Ujjayi Breathing Technique: A Pranayama Exercise for Beginners

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Ujjayi Breath Pranayama

Ujjayi breathing technique is one of the simplest Pranayama exercises and therefore ideal for beginners. It is also the only Pranayama breathing technique which can be practiced throughout the day. The Sanskrit word ‘Ujjayi’ is a combination of two words – Ujj (meaning upwards or superiority in rank) and Jaya (meaning victory or success). Ujjayi breath, therefore, is a Pranayama exercise where the lungs are expanded and chest puffed out like that of a proud conqueror.

How to Practice Ujjayi Breath Pranayama

  • Sit in Vajrasana (diamond pose), Padmasana (lotus position) or Sukhasana (cross legged pose). Make sure you are comfortable in this pose.
  • Keep the back straight and lower the head to the trunk. Rest the chin in the notch between the collar bones just above the breast bone. This process is called Jalandhara Bandha.
  • Rest your hands on the knees with palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and exhale completely.
  • Now the Ujjayi method of breathing begins. Take a deep steady breath through both nostrils. The passage of the incoming breath is felt on the roof of the palate and makes a sibilant sound.
  • Fill the lungs to the brim. As applicable in all Pranayama breathing techniques, make sure that the abdomen is not bloated. The entire abdominal area should be pulled back to the spine.
  • Hold the breath for two seconds. This retention of breath is called antara kumbhaka.
  • Now exhale slowly and deeply until the lungs are completely empty. While exhaling, the passage of the outgoing air should be felt on the roof of the palate.
  • This completes one round of Ujjayi Pranayama.
  • Wait for a second before beginning the second round. Repeat the round with steps 1 – 7 for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Lie on the floor in Savasana (corpse pose).
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Important Note: Ujjayi Pranayama is the only Pranayama technique that be practiced through out the day. It can be done without the Jalandhara Bandha as described in step 2. It can also be practiced when one is walking or lying down in Savasana.

Ujjayi breath purifies the lungs, removes phlegm, gives endurance, soothes the nerves and tones the entire system. It also reduces the risk of coronary problems.

This article is summarized in an infographic below which you may find useful.

Ujjayi Breathing Technique [Infographic]

Source: Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar

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