Ujjayi breath an Ancient Yogic Breathing Technique

Ujjayi breathing is a breathing technique employed in a variety of Taoist and Yoga practices. In relation to Yoga, it is sometimes called “the ocean breath”. Unlike some other forms of pranayama, the ujjayi breath is typically done in association with asana practice.

Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower belly (activating the first and second chakras), rises to the lower rib cage (the third and fourth chakras), and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. The technique is very similar to the three-part Tu-Na breathing found in Taoist Qigong practice.

Inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose. The “ocean sound” is created by moving the glottis as air passes in and out. As the throat passage is narrowed so, too, is the airway, the passage of air through which creates a “rushing” sound. The length and speed of the breath are controlled by the diaphragm, the strengthening of which is, in part, the purpose of ujjayi. The inhalations and exhalations are equal in duration and are controlled in a manner that causes no distress to the practitioner.

  • Increases the amount of oxygen in the blood
  • Builds internal body heat
  • Relieves tension
  • Encourages free flow of prana
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Helps yoga practitioner to maintain a rhythm while they practice
  • Builds energy
  • Detoxifies mind and body
  • Increases feelings of presence, self-awareness, and meditative qualities

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