Ujjaya breathing is a breathing technique often practiced in yoga while being in different poses as well as transitioning from one to another. Some call it “Darth Vader breath” or more poetically “ocean breath” as it has a specific hissing sound. Essentially the technique is quite simple - on the exhale you slightly contract your throat and breath out with your diaphragm as if you were trying to fog a mirror and do the same on the inhale with your mouth closed. It takes a bit of practice but it’ll be worth learning as there are quite a few awesome benefits.
1. Just like Kapalabhati technique, Ujjaya breathing creates heat in your body which is why it’s essential during a warm-up stage in your yoga practice to prepare the tissues to be stretched and twisted. A few Sun Salutations that are a popular way to warm up really should be practiced with Ujjaya.
2. When you are focused on contracting your throat and producing a hissing sound, it naturally brings your mind into the present moment, on your personal yoga practice which should really be your goal.
3. Ujjaya breathing allows you to bring more oxygen to your body. By elongating your exhale you will be able to relax the muscles and therefore go deeper into a pose.
4. Focusing on mastering Ujjaya breath helps to build endurance.
5. Ancient yogic scripts also say that this type of breathing opens nadis (energy channels in the body) thanks to what your energy flows freely inside you without escaping, sort of like in a closed circuit.
To take your yoga practice to the next level we will start incorporating Ujjaya breathing during our classes. It’s a part of old yogic breathing practices (Pranayama). Challenge yourself next time to try it out and see how it affects your own body and mind.