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Ujjayi Pranayama (breath regulating technique)

Updated: May 31, 2023

Sit in a comfortable seat and close the eyes for a few slow deep breaths. Take a few moments to deepen the breath and find an even length inhalation and exhalation.

1. Bring your awareness to where the breath goes as it enters the body. Ujjayi breath is a diaphragmatic breath, filling the belly and then lungs on the inhale. Practice filling the belly, then lungs, taking a brief pause at the top of the inhale, and emptying the lungs and then slightly contracting the belly to release air from the belly. Notice the slight pause again at the bottom of the exhale.

2. Maintaining this diaphragmatic breathing, begin deep breaths in through the nose and exhale out the mouth, as you imagine you were fogging up a mirror with your breath. Your exhale should make the sound “haaaaah.” Practice this a few times.

3. Continue this breath, but this time, seal the lips and create the same “haaaaah” sound with the mouth closed. You should notice the slight constriction in the back of the throat, which narrows the passage of air for longer and slower breath cycles.

4. Keep the mouth sealed as you breathe in and out cultivating an oceanic sounding breath, in and out through the nose.

Ujjayi: Sanskrit prefix “ud” and the root “ji”, combined together as, “ujji”, which means “one who is victorious.” Ujjayi breath is translated as the “victorious breath.”

Pranayama: Sanskrit “prana” meaning “life force” or “vital energy” and “ayama” which is to “control” or “extend.” Therefore, pranayama is to “control the breath.”

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