Ujjayi Breath step by step
Ujjayi is one of the principal pranayamas, not only in itself, but also because it is important in the practice of the asana. Ujjayi is the breathing method used in Ashtanga and in many other styles of yoga.
One of the meanings of Ujjayi is “victorious” –powerful breath that helps the practitioner master a meditative state, where he has the control and power over his mind.
In Ashtanga it is very important to master the synchronization between the movement and breath and when you learn it you enter a calm meditative state in your body and your mind.
Step by step pointers to practice Ujjayi breath:
1) It is characterised as a deep, hollow sound coming from your throat. It is sometimes easier if you think of your breath as ocean waves.
2) First sit in easy crossed legs, half lotus or full lotus (you need to be comfortable so don’t force a lotus if you wont be able to sit in it for a while)
3) The breath starts from your belly, moves into your diaphragm expanding your ribcage, your chest and finally moves into your throat.
4) Start with deep, equal breaths. 4 counts inhale and 4 counts exhale. After, try to lengthen your breath to 8 counts inhale and 8 counts exhale.
5) Begin with practicing exhale. When exhaling whisper a sound “Hhhhaaammm” . Practice it a few times with mouth open and when you have mastered it continue the same with mouth closed (in your mind keep saying “Hhhaaammm”) . Pay attention to the throat, the glottis is slightly closed and the air is flowing through the back of the throat and back of your nostrils.
6) Now keep your glottis in the “whispering” slightly closed position and start practicing your inhale. If your throat is in the right position your inhale will also make the hollow soft noise. (keeping your chin to your chest might help you master the closing of the glottis)
7) Finally practice Ujjayi inhale and exhale. It might take some time to master it, but when you get it, it will always stay with you :)
When you learn the Ujjayi as Pranayama then you will be able to apply it in your asana practice. It will make your practice more grounded, meditative and rhythmic. Furthermore, Ujjayi breath is the best way how to oxygenate your body, as the air flows through your lungs much deeper than in your every day breathing.