Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower belly (activating the first and second chakras), rises to the lower rib cage (the third and fourth chakras), and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. The technique is very similar to the three-part Tu-Na breathing found in Taoist Qi Gong practice.
Inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose. Beginner’s should first practice with the mouth open by whispering “Ahhh” with the inhalation and “Haaa” with the exhalation. Then close the mouth and continue to breath through the nose with the same constriction in the throat. The “ocean sound” is created by moving the glottis as air passes in and out. As the throat passage is narrowed so, too, is the airway, the passage of air through which creates a “rushing” sound. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm, the strengthening of which is, in part, the purpose of ujjayi. The inhalations and exhalations are equal in duration, and are controlled in a manner that causes no distress to the practitioner.
Here’s a taste of this week’s Yoga Flava TV Snack, “Ujayii Breath”, and check in weekly for new episodes on Elev8:
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