Ujjayi translates from Sanskrit as the victory breath or breath of fire. The victory referenced is the victory of union, or self-integration, which is the fundamental process of yoga. In a sense, this practice aims to demonstrate how the breath can glue the mind, body and soul together. It is also a Pranayama that you can practice anytime and anywhere. It is excellent for promoting sleep, relaxation and even meditation. Unlike some other forms of pranayama, the Ujjayi breath is typically done in association with asana practice.
Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower belly, rises to the lower rib cage, and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. Inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose. The deep vocal sound is created by expanding the glottis as air passes in and out. As the throat passage is narrowed so, too, is the airway, the passage of air through which creates a sound very similar to Darth Veda in the film Star Wars. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm, the strengthening of which is, in part, the purpose of Ujjayi. The inhalations and exhalations are equal in duration, and are controlled in a manner that causes no distress to the practitioner.
The Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama
Ujjayi Pranayama is a balancing and calming breath which increases oxygenation and builds internal body heat. It may be used continuously throughout a yoga class. This breath enables the practitioner to maintain a rhythm to his or her practice, take in enough oxygen, and helps build energy to maintain practice, while clearing toxins out of the bodily system. This breath is especially important during transition into and out of Asanas (postures), as it helps practitioners to stay present, self-aware and grounded in the practice, which lends it a meditative quality.
If you have any further questions about the Ujjayi breath we use in class, you can either ask me at a yoga class in Southampton or use the facebook group.
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