Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark

What is Ujjayi?

Discover the art of breathing and apply it to your practice.

By Tim Miller

meditation HP

When done properly, Ujjayi (translated as "victorious") breathing should be both energizing and relaxing. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both dirga (long) and suksma (smooth). The sound of Ujjayi is created by gently constricting the opening of the throat to create some resistance to the passage of air. Gently pulling the breath in on inhalation and gently pushing the breath out on exhalation against this resistance creates a well-modulated and soothing sound—something like the sound of ocean waves rolling in and out.

The root of your problem may be as simple as the effort you exert to perform Ujjayi. It is important to remember that the key to Ujjayi breathing is relaxation; the action of Ujjayi naturally lengthens the breath. Some small effort is required to produce a pleasing sound, but too much effort creates a grasping quality and a grating sound.

To practice the inhalation, focus on creating a soothing and pleasing sound that is unhurried and unforced. I suggest working on your Ujjayi breathing in a seated, relaxed cross-legged position. Imagine sipping the breath in through a straw. If the suction is too strong the straw collapses and great force is required to suck anything through it. Once Ujjayi breathing is mastered in a seated position, the challenge is to maintain the same quality of breathing throughout your asana practice.

Throughout your practice, try to maintain the length and smoothness of the breath as much as possible. Once you find a baseline Ujjayi breath in a pose that is not too strenuous (Downward Facing Dog for example), endeavor to maintain that quality of breath throughout the practice. Some asanas require great effort, and you may begin to strain in your breath.


Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark
Full Name
Address 1
Address 2
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email (req):

Reader Comments

jacquie

I have a question, some yoga centres are doing Hot Ashtanga yoga, my question is, when the body getsreally hot the breath naturally shortens to cope with the heat (like a dog panting). It seems the body is getting overworked by doing Ujjayi with Ashtanga in a very hot room?
Anyone think it might be a little too much, possibly overheating the body?

Brahmavidya

Good article
Om Prem

jessica-may

i want to see a breathing exersise vidio but there isn't one i can find. Can you please make it more easy to find one.
thankyou love from jessica-may

Add a Comment »

Your Name:

Comment:

Stay Connected with Us!

Yoga Journal Live events
sd14 San Diego
Sheraton San Diego
July 10-14, 2014
Register
2014 new york live New York
Hilton New York
April 24-28, 2014
Register

More Events

Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus
Liability insurance and benefits to support
teachers and studios.
Learn More
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 4 FREE GIFTS
Your subscription includes
Yoga for Neck & Shoulders • Yoga Remedies
Yoga for Headaches • Calm, Cool, Collected
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Yoga Journal
and my 4 FREE downloadable Yoga Booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions