September 13, 2012

Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Pranayama, victorious breath, breath with sound. Is a slow diaphragmatic breathing practice, which first fills the lower belly (where most of the capillaries are to feed the body with oxygen), then rises to the lower rib cage , and finally moves into the upper chest and throat, similar to the Three Part Breath practice.

The slower breath allows more time for cells to absorb oxygen. Also heats the body from the inside out. A technique of breath control that you can continually monitor and adjust the evenness of the sound, the smooth flow of breath.

Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayam: A breath that is more calming, balancing and increases the intake of oxygen to all parts of the lungs to move through the body. Improves metabolism and the exhalation gets rid of more toxins. Also improves digestion and enhances functioning of the respiratory system. Great for asthmatics as it tones and strengthens the condition of the lungs and bronchial linings. Brings the mind into the present moment.

Ujjayi Pranayama can be used continuously throughout your Vinyasa Yoga practice or other practices and exercise to maintain a rhythm to the practice, is especially important during transition into and out of poses.

Inhalation and exhalation are both through the nose making an ocean or Darth Vader sound by slightly closing the glottis (where the vocal cords are located and the breath passes). So the throat passage is narrowed creating a rushing sound from the air swirling at the back of the restricted throat. It's the same sound you hear when whispering or fogging a mirror.

How to do the Ujjayi Pranayama practice: Exhale, imitate fogging a mirror, with an open mouth several breaths, then close the mouth halfway through the exhalation for several more breaths. Ujjayi is done with the nose only, so close the mouth to work on Ujjayi Pranayama. So your fogging a mirror or whispering with a closed mouth on the exhalation. The inhale is also coming through the restricted throat making a similar hissing sound as the exhale. Start with 5 to 8 minutes of practice, gradually increase your time to 10 to 15 minutes or you can incorporate this breath through your whole Yoga practice.

You can use Ujjaiy Pranayama to become aware of the breath at times of stress, emotional upset, and when waiting in lines at the bank, grocery store, etc...

Healthy & Happy,
Yoga Chuck

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