What exactly is Ujjayi breath?

Have you heard your yoga teacher mention Ujjayi breath in class, but you haven’t been sure exactly what they’re talking about? Never fear – we’re here to break it down for you 🙂

What it is

Ujjayi breath – which translates as Victorious Breath – is a specific way of breathing that warms your entire body and helps you to connect more deeply with your physical yoga practice.

How to do it

To utilise Ujjayi breath, you need to create a slight constriction in the back of your throat. Let’s workshop this a bit:

Put your hand just in front of your face. Inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth, breathing warm air onto your hand, using the kind of breath that you would if you were trying to fog up a mirror. Feel that gentle constriction or tightening in the back of the throat? That’s exactly what we need to create with Ujjayi breath, but with the mouth closed. Take a couple more rounds breathing out through the mouth onto your hand, and then when you feel ready, try closing your mouth, releasing the hand, and just breathing in and out through the nose. Keep that constriction through the back of the throat as you exhale. You’ll create a sort of Darth Vader type sound (or the sound of the ocean, if a Vader reference doesn’t do it for ya.) Got it? If you’re still not super clear, no worries – Youtube has approximately 30,000 videos to help you along 🙂

Why we do it

This breath is so loud it can help to drown out all our loud monkey mind thinking, so it’s amazing for overthinkers or anyone with a lot of anxiety. It requires focus, so you’re catapulted into the present moment. It’s also steady and strong, so we can tell clearly when we might be pushing it too far in a yoga posture and letting the ego take over.

A focused Ujjayi breath can help us to release tension we might be holding anywhere in the body. As well as that, the friction created by the air passing through the throat creates an intrinsic heat in the body, warming up our body internally.

And what I love most about Ujjayi breath is that it helps to create a deeper connection to the other yogis around us – I loooove that feeling in class when everyone’s breathing is strong and synchronised. There’s really nothing more beautiful! So – lots of reasons to give Ujjayi breath a go in class, or in your home practice 🙂

Sarah

Author Sarah

Sarah is a vinyasa yoga teacher and wellness writer based in Dublin, Ireland. Yoga is her true love, the thing that she is called to share with the world. She has also always had a passion for writing, and loves nothing more than combining the two things that set her soul on fire and writing about yoga! You can follow her on Instagram at @thesmilingyogi_ for lots more posts about yoga, wellness, and happiness :)

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