He considered ujjayipranayama
the ideal breathing technique to accompany movement, and it remains central to the practice of AshtangaVinyasaas well as other modern schools of Yoga. As a method
of strengthening mind-body awareness, ujjayi
pranayama was the ideal choice; giving the practitioner an additional tool
to focus the mind, lengthen the breath and conduct heat in the body.
Achieved with a slight
narrowing of the epiglottis, ujjayi
can be maintained indefinitely and helps to create continual awareness of every
part of the breath. It helps the deep Yogic breath to become fixed and
lengthened, tying you to the experience of your breath throughout your
practice. Such a sustained technique recognizes breath as an essential bridge
between conscious and unconscious, taking you quicker and deeper into the
united awareness of mind and body. This, of course, is the aim of every asana practice; the eventual removal of
distinction between mind and movement, and even breath and movement.
Such considerations may
be the reason why ujjayi pranayama got
its name. Using the Sanskrit roots for both ‘victory’ and ‘bondage’, it is ‘the
breath that gives liberation’. The bondage referred to is the bondage of
duality– where liberation means collapsing the division between mind and body
in order to reveal the united intelligence of the whole system. Just as it
empowers us in our asana practice, so
it can empower us in life – ujjayi breathing
is easy to adopt at any time and helps us to remain mindful in the face of
Born of the highest
concept of Yogic philosophy, we need not forget its usefulness as a therapeutic
tool: tranquilizing the mind, aiding deep sleep, lowering blood pressure,
toning the respiratory system and aiding the circulation of prana. Ujjayi pranayama works for us along the whole spectrum of Yogic
practice – offering us a tool for basic calm and stress-relief as well as
access to the higher ‘psychic’ practices, enabling the practitioner to enter
subtler states of mind.
How to practice Ujjayi Pranayama.
is essential to master the full Yogic breath. This means the easy and fluid
practice of the full three-part breath, filling the abdomen, chest, then
clavicular cavity, before deflating from the abdomen with an exhalation of equal
length. This process is to be maintained throughout the practice of ujjayi.
contract the epiglottis to create a soft snoring sound in the throat. Maintain the
contraction without tension - you should be able to effortlessly sustain it
throughout your practice.
How to teach Ujjayi Pranayama.
teaching ujjayi breath, there are a number of visualizations
that may be useful to your students:
to imagine that the breath is being drawn in and out through a small hole in
the throat, instead of the nostrils.
the intended sound as the waves of the ocean.
advises imagining you are cleaning your sunglasses. Tell your students to make a
‘hahh’ sound from the throat with the mouth open, as if fogging sunglasses.
Keep practicing until they can perform this breath regularly on inhalation and
exhalation. Then, simply close the mouth and continue through the nostrils with
the proper ujjayi breath.
students to simulate snoring, then experiment with more relaxed versions of
this until it becomes an effortless contraction.
students to come close and imitate the sound that you are making. Depending on
your students’ learning styles, this can be enough. Some students pick it up by
imitation alone, without ever being asked to try it.
For expert tuition in pranayama and other Hatha Yoga methods, read more about Kairali