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Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi means rising victoriously. When practiced regularly it keeps the chest and torso tall, which makes the practitioner look proud... victorious. Ujjayi breath concentrates the flow and gives the practitioner more control of the breath and is also good for the lower back and reduces the mass around the waist line.

Ujjayi pranayama can be practiced throughout the day as a way to de-stress and be practiced with other pranayama techniques in order to enhance your practice. 

 

"Restrict the opening of the throat Nadi so that the air touches from the throat to the chest, making a sound while passing."

-Hatha Yoga Pradipika Chapter 2 verse 51

 

It is also known as "Ocean's breath" because of the sound that comes with this pranayama. It is similar to placing your ear to conch shell- It's the subtle sound of waves crashing into the beach, then receding back into the ocean.  

 

Yogi's believe that our life is measured by the amount of breaths that are taken, so they practiced pranayama as a way to slow down, and conserve the breath. Ujjayi is used to lengthen the breath and lengthen the span of life.

How to Practice Ujjayi Breath:

In ujjayi breath we are changing the shape of the opening of the glottis, the opening between the vocal chords. In ujjayi breath, you are pushing that muscle to the front of the throat, then keeping it there. This muscle is the one we use to swallow and cough so you can find that muscle by practicing them a few times. At the "top" of swallowing you will notice the throat moving up and forward, that is where you want to have it for ujjayi breath. 

Alternate method:

Find a comfortable seated position. Gently exhale all of the air from the lungs. Slowly inhale, filling up the body, then exhale make a sound with the mouth closed that sounds like "hhhhha". Try to make the sound continously as you exhale. If it sounds choppy or is difficult to sustain, its a sign that you are stressed. Think about slowing down your breath just a little bit, letting of effort. Eventually this will smooth out during practice.

Benefits- Ujjayi breath can help better control your breath, especially while practicing asanas. It can create heat inside your body so it makes a great way to get ready to practice or just to start your day. The full deep breaths that Ujjayi allows can also massage and start to warm up the internal organs. It is also very calming, can be used to help de-stress from a long day at work. It becomes a type of meditation as the breath sounds like your own personal ocean; crashing into land and then receding back into the ocean. Constricting your breath in this way, concentrates and lengthens the breath so all the cells in your body can fill themselves up with live giving prana.

Don't Force Anything! It is in our nature to try and perfect things, so when you first begin a pranayama practice you may feel the urge to try and perfect it right away. If we approach pranayama in this way it can lead to injury, so it's important to approach each practice with an idea of using the least amount of energy possible. If a noise is too loud, this shows that there is an excessive inner struggle going on. It requires the use of various muscles for exhaling, and for controlling the breath to make the sound. When practicing, it is important to use the muscles gently, so that the internal energy flow is gentle so that stress isn't created 

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