Ujjayi breath benefits build internal heat, regulates body temperature, aids in concentration, and can help relieve headaches and sinus pressure (1). It is a breathing technique used in a mixture of Taoist and Yoga practices.
The sound that Ujjayi produces encourages us to synchronize breath with movements during yoga, making the whole yoga practice more rhythmic.
Yoga breathing practices, termed “pranayama” in Sanskrit, are a vital part of evolving your yoga practice. Ujjayi breath benefits impact the whole cardiorespiratory system, releases emotions of stress and frustration, and helps soothe the mind and body (2).
When performed correctly, Ujjayi breathing should be both energizing and relaxing.
There is no doubt about the profound relationship between the breath and the mind. Breath is essential. Breath is life. Holotropic breathwork uses music, and deep circular breathing to access deep emotions and unconscious thoughts, feelings, emotions, and tensions. While agnisar pranayam breathing improves digestive issues. Breathing has a major impact on your health.
When following Ujjayi, you simply fill your lungs, while slightly contracting your throat, and breathe through your nose. The sound of Ujjayi is created when the opening of the throat is constricted and creates some resistance to the passage of air.
The pulling of the breath in the inhalation and pushing the breath out on exhalation against this resistance creates a well-modulated and soothing sound—something like the sound of ocean waves rolling in and out.vThis breathing technique is used throughout Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga practices.
Ujjayi Breath Benefits
1. Calms and Relaxes
A focused Ujjayi breath can release tension and tight areas of the body. By controlling your breath, you calm your mind and bring awareness to the present moment. Manipulating the breath can alter how we feel, accounting for as much as a 40 percent variance in feelings of anger, fear, joy, and sadness, according to findings in the journal Cognition & Emotion.
2. Weight Loss
Ujjayi breath increases levels of leptin, a hormone produced by fat tissue that signals the brain to inhibit hunger, according to research from Shirley Telles, PhD, director of the Patanjali Research Foundation in Haridwar, India.
3. Warms the Body
Ujjayi breath controls the warming of the body. The resistance of the air moving within the lungs and throat creates internal body heat (3). It is similar to a massage for the internal organs; as the core grows warm from the inside, the body becomes prepared for the asana training. This heat makes stretching safer while the inner organs can be detoxed.
4. Reduces Pain
Ujjayi breath triggers the release of endorphins, which helps combats pain. Ujjayi breath benefits include reduced pain from health issues like headaches and sinus pressure while strengthening the nervous and digestive systems.
5. Increases Energy
Ujjayi breath transports oxygen into your body to support its functions and dispels carbon dioxide out of your body. Oxygen is also directly tied to how our body produces energy. The more oxygen you have in your body, the easier your body produces the energy molecule ATP. Ujjayi breath benefits will help you feel more revitalized and rejuvenated.
6. Lowers Risk for Chronic Disease
Ujjayi breath lowers your stress levels. When you have lower stress levels, you have lower cortisol levels. High cortisol levels contribute to many chronic health conditions. The stress hormone often raises your blood pressure and can increase the risks of a heart attack or heart disease. Cortisol also increases your blood sugar.
7. Stimulates Nadis
In yoga theory, nadis carry prana, life force energy. The Nadis (energy channels in the body) brings mental clarity and focus. Ujjayi breath stimulates Nadis and reduces distractions to help you to become self-aware and grounded in practice.
8. Improves Blood Flow
During Ujjayi breath, the upward and downward movement of the diaphragm helps improve the flow of blood int the body. As the blood circulates, it delivers oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells and takes away waste products.
9. Reduces inflammation
Diseases like cancer only thrive in bodies that are acidic in nature. Ujjayi breath is said to reduce the acidity in your body, thereby making it alkaline. Stress also increases the acidity level in the body. Ujjayi breath also reduces stress and thus the acidity.
10. Stimulates Lymphatic System
As our breathing is what moves the lymph, shallow breathing can lead to a sluggish lymphatic system which will not detoxify properly. Ujjayi breath will help you get the lymph flowing properly so that your body can work more efficiently.
11. Improves Digestion
Ujjayi breath supplies more oxygen to all our body parts including our digestive system, thus making it work more efficiently. The increased blood flow due to deep breathing also encourages intestinal action which further improves your overall digestion. In addition, ujjayi breath results in a calmer nervous system, which in turn also enhances optimal digestion.
Ujjayi Breath Benefits – (con’t)
Ujjayi breath is pragmatic teaching of equanimity, non-attachment, not being swayed by the pulls of our desire to feel good (Raga) and repulsion when we feel bad (Dvesha).
When practiced correctly, Ujjayi breath will both energize and relax the body, mind, and spirit. The breath should be steady, rhythmic, smooth, and full. The “ocean” sound should soothe your mind. Throughout your practice, keep the steadiness, length, and smoothness of your breath as much as you can.
Ujjayi Breathing Technique
If you want to master the ujjayi breathing technique check out the videos below:
Ujjayi Breath Cues
A few reminders on ujjayi breath cues:
- Inhale as you lift up or move upward
- Exhale as you move downward or draw in and up with mula bandha
- Inhale to lengthen the spine
- Exhale as you twist
- Exhale during the most active (“work”) part of the pose
Some useful ujjayi breath cues from yogajournal.com:
- “How is your inner dialogue going?”
- “Move toward the sensation instead of away from it.”
- “Acknowledge the tightness in your body. Ask what feels good to open in your body in order to be most accessible to the pose.”
You can practice Ujjayi breath any time you wish. You don’t have to be on your yoga mat.
Since the Ujjayi breath is especially good for settling anxiety and stress and balancing the mind, try shifting into Ujjayi breath cues are best whenever you find yourself becoming annoyed or stressed.