Yoga Knowledge – April 2017

What is Ujjayi Breath?

“Ujjayi, also known as “Ocean Breath”, is a three-part breath that takes air first into the lower belly (activating the first and second chakras), then the lower rib cage (the third and fourth chakras), and finally into the upper chest and throat; the process is reversed on exhalation. An ocean sound is created through the nostrils and resonates in the throat, as the glottis (the space between the vocal folds) is controlled by the larynx muscles to increase or decrease the area according to need. Sounds emanate from this space, as in voice pronunciation. When tension in the folds is changed, the ocean sound can be produced (Staugaard-Jones 2015).

Ujjayi is a warming and very grounding breath used in pranayamas and asanas. It is especially important during transition into and out of asanas, as it helps practitioners to stay present, self-aware and grounded in the practice, which lends it a meditative quality. Ujjayi enables the practitioner to maintain a rhythm to his or her practice, take in enough oxygen, and helps build energy to maintain practice, while clearing toxins out the bodily system. It is also a helpful way for the practitioner to keep the vital life force, prana, circulating throughout the body rather than escaping from it.

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