When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath. ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika(1)

Ujjayi means victory and in Yoga, victory refers to gaining inner freedom and mastery over ourselves. Ujjayi can be a practice that supports re-gaining control and focus over fragmented, stressed minds and bodies and disconnected selves. A main purpose of the Ujjayi breathing according to Yoga is to increase the quality and vitality of our energetic experience and mental focus in service of becoming more present and more powerful in your life.

The throat constriction inherent in the technique focuses breath and prana(vital energy) and the sound produce provides a focal point for the mind to settle upon creating a meditative focal point. When utilized with full Yogic breath over time the practice also Yogis believe it may help bring down blood pressure & heart rate. Also, it can help make the mind calm and peaceful and support the lessening of inner stress. It is designed to create a calming effect on the entire nervous system. If you are stressed then 3-5 minutes of Ujjayi breath can reenergize you. This pranayama is very effective for relaxation of body and mind.

Basic Practice –

1.)  Beginners can start this breathing practice)pranayama in a seated position. Easy pose(simple cross-legged seated posture) is comfortable for most beginners.

  2.)  Begin with long deep Yogic breath of an even length on the inhale and exhale. The ratio of 4:4 is an appropriate starting point for most. With practice one can increase the counts to 4:8, or 5:10 or 6:12 seconds

 3.)   Next, begin to constrict the throat gently to create an even raspy/hissing sound with breath. This sound is NOT produced in vocal cords but produced by contraction of throat or epiglottis. You may whisper the count of 1, 2, 3, 4 on the inhale and exhale to initially create and get a sense of the throat constriction. Or you may simple contract the throat and make a frictional sound. Let go of the overt whispering after a few breathes as you get familiar with the technique and retain the smooth flow of breath and the accompanying sound. Continue with this practice for 3-5 minutes.

 4.)  Once mastered some schools of Yoga use this breath is used in yoga asana, particularly flow/Vinyasa styles. This helps release stress faster and more efficiently as it makes the mind focused easily when the sound and breath become fully connected to the movements and asana.

Precautions –

Pregnant women and those with cardiovascular/heart conditions or lung problems should not do this breath unless cleared by a physician. Avoid breath retention (holding the breath) in these and other circumstances in which it is contra-indicated..

Discontinue if nervousness or anxiety appears.

Don’t struggle to attain the breath ratio indicated—breath without straining and find the ratio that works

If you feel dizzy or disoriented then please stop the practice and continue normal breathing.

To pursue this or any Yogic pranayama should be done with a qualified Yoga teacher to gain the intended positive benefits. Read the site disclaimer for more information. Read the site disclaimer for more information.

(1) from the Quote Garden http://www.quotegarden.com/breathing.html