We’ve been enjoying the lovely Ujjayi breath as our pranayama practice in classes this week.
Sometimes known as Victorious breath, it’s a wonderfully calming, quieting breath.
I usually explain how to do it by suggesting students make the sound of the sea – the waves rolling in and out of the shore – whilst breathing slowly in and out through the mouth – this helps create a focus on the throat. Once a slow, gentle rhythm is established, then transfer to making the same sound, with the same feel in the throat, but breathing softly in and out through the nose.
What’s actually happening is that the glottis is restricted, which serves to slow the breath down. The pranayama has a soothing effect on the nervous system. Some find it helps with insomnia.
If you’d like to try Ujjayi breath, sit comfortably, making sure you’ll be warm. Let your spine be upright, including your neck. Hands can rest gently in your lap or in Chin Mudra (tip of thumb and first finger touching). Gently settle into a slow and comfortable breath, thru the nose, for a few minutes. Then try making the sound of those ocean waves, breathing through your mouth. Having got the hang of it, move to breathing through the nose and still hearing that wonderful ocean wave sound. Keep the breath gentle, soft and slow. After about 3-5 minutes, let your breath settle back into it’s normal rhythm, and then choose whether to gently stretch and carry on your day, or to move into a period of relaxation.
Please note Ujjayi breath is not recommended for anyone suffering from severe depression or psychosis as it takes you so deep within yourself.