Yoga Breathing 101: Ujjayi Breathing and Moving Meditation Part 1/3


Yogic breathing or Pranayama, is one of the favourite aspects of my yoga practice. You can do it all month long and you can even do it if you don't feel like stripping down to your yoga gear and hopping on a mat. It's like a relaxing bubble bath at the end of the day, there's something in it for everyone. 

This is why I've put together a three part blog on the basics of yoga breathing. It's an important aspect of our yoga practice, that's often completely over looked. If your new to yoga, you may be so focused on holding the posture, that the breath is completely forgotten about. Pranayama can be practised during our active physical yoga practice but also, outside of this when we practice Sadhasana (meditation postures.) 

The many benefits of yoga breathing

Pranayama has huge benefits for everyone. On a basic level, prranayama helps to relax you if you are feeling, tired, anxious or stressed. It can also revitalize you and give you more energy when you feel that you just can’t keep going. Pranayama can help give you clarity and cool headedness, when our thoughts start racing (especially in the middle of the night) and you just can’t ‘turn off’ that monkey mind. So it’s great for helping you to sleep too. Deep breathing pumps spinal fluid to the brain; prevents any build-up of toxins in the lungs and stimulates the pituitary gland. Who knew breathing could do so much?

Pranayama has huge benefits for everyone. On a basic level, prranayama helps to relax you if you are feeling, tired, anxious or stressed. It can also revitalize you and give you more energy when you feel that you just can’t keep going. Pranayama can help give you clarity and cool headedness, when our thoughts start racing (especially in the middle of the night) and you just can’t ‘turn off’ that monkey mind. So it’s great for helping you to sleep too. Deep breathing pumps spinal fluid to the brain; prevents any build-up of toxins in the lungs and stimulates the pituitary gland. Who knew breathing could do so much?

Turning your practice into a Moving Meditation: Ujjayi Breathing

The first breath I'm going to introduce you to is Ujjayi Breath. I'm assuming that most you have some level of yoga practice and this is an easy one, which can be learned and practised by anyone. You will eventually be able to use Ujjayi breathing throughout your physical yoga practice (when your on the mat,) and you'll find that everything flows so much more easily and that by breathing this way, you are able to extend more fully into your postures. It will be come like second nature (I promise!)

Ujjayi breathing, or Darth Vadar breath as it’s commonly known for its ominous sound, and is used during most dynamic or flow yoga practices. In a yoga practice, it is used to soothe the body and mind and allow us to move more easily from posture to posture. It creates internal heat within the body, which allows fluid movement and stretching. Ujjayi breathing also provides a great point of focus during your actual yoga practice, encouraging your asanas (postures) to flow into and become 'a moving meditation.' 

How to do it:

  1. Come into simple cross legged position, with your spine straight and tall.
  2. Place your hand in front of your mouth (but not touching it) and take a deep breath in through your nose.
  3. On your exhale, open your mouth and expel the air with a “haaaaahhh” sound as though you are fogging a mirror. This sound, created by the slight restriction in the back of your throat is the ocean (or Darth Vadar) sound that you will make during ujjayi breath.
  4. Allow a smile to gently form on the lips. This helps to open the back of the throat. Do not clench the jaw.
  5. Take another inhale through the nose, and on the exhale close your mouth and exhale through your nose. Try to create the same sound in the back of your throat.
  6. Now try and create the same sound on your inhalation (this is usually difficult at first and may take practice).
  7. Continue to inhale and exhale throughout your yoga practice or as required.

Give it a try the next time you hit the mat, you will start to feel the difference in your practice immediately. If you forget about the breath as you practice, that's okay too. Just bring your attention back again, and continue.

Namaste, Cheryl xx