Ujjayi breathing is a type of yogic breathing technique often used with ashtanga or vinyasa yoga, both breath-synchronized styles. The sound it produces has given it names like Ocean Breath (because it sounds like softly breaking waves), Hissing Breath and, in my house, Darth Vader Breath. It is believed to fortify the nervous and digestive systems. Become comfortable with this technique first before incorporating it in practice.
- Belly breathe deeply through the mouth. If possible, hold the uddiyana bandha.
- As you exhale, constrict the back of your throat, tightening the airway. Pretend you are fogging up a window on a cloudy winter day.
- After this becomes easy, try to do the same on the inhalation. This is where you'll notice the ocean/hissing/Lord Vader comparison.
- Once the breath is controlled with the mouth open, close the mouth and breathe through the nose. The sound will remain the same. Keep the same pressure in the throat. This is Ujjayi breath.
Maintaining the friction in the throat, like pinching a water hose to concentrate a stream of water, gives ujjayi breath power that can be sent to other parts of the body. Women have used it to help them through natural childbirth. Athletes have engaged it during tough endurance events. Some people even use it to clear their minds before a job interview.
Some styles of yoga, particularly ashtanga, rely on bandhas and ujjayi to help generate the heat necessary for opening and looseniing the body. However, if you do any sort of yoga, incorporating the ujjayi breath will add focus and energy when you may need it the most.