Warming Breath, Ujjayi Pranayama – Hatha yoga classes in Milton Keynes
Ujjayi Pranayama – use ‘Warming Breath’ breathing throughout your asana practice (yoga postures). Ujjayi means victorious, or expanding. In this pranayama, the breath is kept high up in the chest, rather than being allowed down into the abdomen. The chest is therefore puffed up, hence the name.
Another key characteristic of Warming Breath is the soft sound produced by the air in the throat, and it is possible that Ujjayi comes from the word Ujjapi which means “pronounced aloud.” This sound is produced by partially closing the glottis so that a soft hissing noise is heard during inhalation and exhalation. This noise is felt as a slight contraction of the throat and helps regulate the flow of air. In Warming Breath (Ujjayi) as in most other forms of pranayama, the mouth is kept closed and breathing is done through the nose. This pranayama is very energising.
– Yoga Lily, Hatha Yoga classes in Milton Keynes
1. Sit on the floor in any comfortable posture in which the back can be kept straight. Keep the chin parallel to the floor, so the head is balanced, neither tilting forward normal back. Relax your shoulders. Close your eyes. Throughout the practice keep the attention on the throat, chest and abdomen, without letting your thoughts stray.
2. Exhale fully. Slightly contract the perineal muscles. Before the next inhalation, direct your attention to the abdominal area and activate the abdominal muscles, slightly pulling the naval toward the spine.
3. Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils, keeping the abdomen still. Close the glottis partially (as if swallowing) to produce an audible hissing sound. However, this sound should be soft and breath should be relaxed. The breathing should never be strained, but only controlled. Since the abdomen is slightly contracted, it cannot push out and so the air fills the chest, which expands with the inhalation. Fill the lungs up slowly as you ensure the area between the naval and pubis stays still. It may help to keep one hand on the abdomen to check its movements. Then slowly exhale, keeping your throat constricted in the same way to produce this ocean-like sound. Again, keep the lower abdomen still. This constitutes one round.
4. It may be difficult in the beginning to produce the characteristic Ujjayi sound. This will come with practice. Remember that the most important part of the Ujjayi breath is the control of the abdomen and the smoothness of the flow of air.
5. When learning this technique, only do a few rounds at a time, taking a few normal breaths in between if necessary. Then gradually increase the number of rounds to 15 as you become more comfortable with this practice.
Breath, life and energy are intrinsically connected and yogis have a single word for all three of them – prana. Pranayama, where Breath is controlled, increases vitality and mental focus, and expands consciousness.
Breath acts as a bridge to our nervous system and by exploring pranayama practices we can observe how deeply it is connected to the mind. Just as our breathing alters depending on our mood, our psychological state can be altered by changes in our breath. Conscious breathing brings oxygen and energy to the cells and enhances all cellular processes. It’s a fantastic source of energy. It’s simple: when we breathe better we feel better.