We are all familiar to the calming sound of the ocean, the waves tumbling towards the shore – the peace it brings to our mind is unfathomable.
Now imagine creating this sound with your breath.
Ujjayi in Sanskrit translates to “victory” (hence it is known as the victorious breath).
The sound you create while practicing this pranayama mimics the ocean waves, so it is also known as the ocean breath.
Mastering Ujjayi pranayama can be a little tricky for beginners – as when inhaling and exhaling they cannot produce the sound of the ocean.
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Ujjayi Pranayama Breathing – Ocean Breath!
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.
What is Ujjayi Pranayama? or Ujjayi Breathing
The word “Ujjayi” is from the Sanskrit prefixes “Uj” and “Jay”. Thus, Ujjayi simply means “Vijay” i,e, “One who is victorious” – Ujjayi Pranayama means “Victorious Breath”.
Ujjayi Pranayama is practiced to control your breath and control the respiratory system of the body.
This breathing technique is also known as Victorious Breath and Ocean Breath in English.
While practicing this pranayama, the breath sounds like waves of the ocean, hence the name “Ocean Breath”.
This Pranayama causes hot air in the body and it helps in getting the contaminated and viral substances out of the body.
In this pranayama, breathing is done only through the nose, though you practice exhaling though the mouth until you are comfortable through the nose.
Due to the small respiratory tract of the throat, the air will travel slowly in and out – so while doing this pranayama, your breath will sound like the ocean.
Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama
Integrating Ujjayi pranayama into your practice will deepen your experience both on and off the mat. Here we share the top five benefits of Ujjayi:
- Promotes healthy
- Enhances focus and concentrating.
- Increases positivity and self-awareness
- Generates internal heat, energises the body and mind
- Strengthens the throat and vocal cord, promotes respiratory health.
How to perform Ujjayi?
Explaining ujjayi pranayama breathing can be a bit tricky without a video demonstration, but I’ll do my best here.
I hope this makes things a bit clearer and do feel free to let me know if questions come up.
Start with some simple sounds
Some traditions encourage you to focus on the sound of the breath during inhalations and exhalations. The way I learned ujjayi linked the sound “SA” to the inhale and “HA” to the exhale. The combination of the two sounds creates that oceanic echo, like what you hear when you cup a seashell over your ear.
Direct the breath to the back of the throat
On the inhalation, gently constrict your throat so the base of the tongue contracts slightly. As the base descends, the tip of the tongue gently presses upwards against your palate. When you sip in air through the nose it will sound like a soft, drawn out “SA.” Let the inhalation last 3 to 4 seconds to start.
Release the wave of breath with a-HA
As you start this practice, you can exhale with your lips open and softly whisper “HA.” To make this sound, your entire tongue drops so you can gently push the air out. Eventually, once you’re comfortable with this method, keep the lips closed as you whisper “HA” on the exhalation.
You can work to match the length of the exhalation to the length of your inhalation.
Finally: don’t force it. The waves will come
You are breathing through your nostrils with both lips closed, but it is not as pronounced as a regular breath. It seems almost passive. You shouldn’t have to force or harden anything to breathe. Let the breath be smooth and continuous, and the soothing echo of the ocean resonates almost automatically.
When to perform Ujjayi?
- When you feel overburdened; take a moment and try this breathing technique it will help calm you down.
- Before performing any activity that requires your utmost concentration; ujjayi pranayama is the best to keep your mind from wandering and help you focus.
- Before exercising; this breathing technique helps you garner the energy inside you making your workout session more efficient.
- Before starting your mediation; ujjayi pranayama can bring about a soothing effect on your mind preparing you for your mediation routine.
- During cold climates or if you naturally have a cold body; ujjayi breath has the ability to produce a lot of internal heat, keeping you warm on the inside.
Ujjayi Pranayama Breathing – Final thoughts
The more comfortable you get with ujjayi pranayama breathing, the longer your breaths can last, and you can link it to activities you do in everyday life.
Here’s to your next victorious breath!
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