Today I’m thankful for the warming and centering effects of Ujjayi pranayama (breathing exercise)! I’ve been instructing a variation of the technique in my classes and a few students have loved the effects so far.
Check it out . . .
(oo-jy [rhymes with “pie”]-ee)
ujjayi = to conquer, to be victorious
“Ujjayi” comes from the Sanskrit prefix “ud” (उद्) added to it and root “ji” (जि): “ujji” (उज्जि), meaning “to be victorious”. Ujjayi (उज्जायी), thus means “one who is victorious”. Ujjayi breath means “victorious breath”
According to the Wiki, “Ujjayi breathing is a breath technique (pranayam) employed in a variety of Hindu and Taoist Yoga practices. In relation to Hindu Yoga, it is sometimes called “the ocean breath” (just like the ocean in a conch shell!).” Although ujjayi was classically done on its own, recently it’s been integrated with asana practice.
Sivananda’s description of how to perform Ujjayi:
“Sit in Padmasana or Siddhasana. Close the mouth. Inhale slowly through both the nostrils in a smooth, uniform manner till the breath fills the space from the throat to the heart. (You’ll hear a slight hissing sound.)
Retain the breath as long as you can do it comfortably and then exhale slowly through the left nostril by closing the right nostril with your right thumb. Expand the chest when you inhale. During inhalation a peculiar sound is produced owing to the partial closing of glottis. The sound produced during inhalation should be of a mild and uniform pitch. It should be continuous also. This Kumbhaka may be practised even when walking or standing. Instead of exhaling through the left nostril, you can exhale slowly through both nostrils.
This removes the heat in the head. The practitioner becomes very beautiful. The gastric fire is increased. It removes all the evils arising in the body and the Dhatus and cures Jalodara (dropsy of the belly or ascites). It removes phlegm in the throat, Asthma, consumption and all sorts of pulmonary diseases are cured. All diseases that arise from deficient inhalation of oxygen, and diseases of the heart are cured. All works are accomplished by Ujjayi Pranayama. The practitioner is never attacked by diseases of phlegm, nerves, dyspepsia, dysentery, enlarged spleen, consumption, cough or fever. Perform Ujjayi to destroy decay and death.”