Yoga Hero: All of Yoga Podcast – Episode 2

2: Ujjayi breath; the what, why and how

Learn what ujjayi pranayama is, how to do it, the benefits of the breath, and what to look out for

Often, in a yoga class, your yoga teacher will say ‘now engage the Ujjayi breath if you have that in your practice’, or ‘now start your Ujjayi breath’ or something along those lines. As yoga teachers, there’s so much for us to tell you, to keep you safe, to help you add to your practice, explain left right forwards backwards and so on, and we still want to give you some space with your thoughts, so this is quite a time efficient way of teaching, now it’s time to start the breath.

However, if you don’t know Ujjayi, or you were never quite sure how to do it, or you’ve got a brain like a sieve like me, and you’ve forgotten how to do it, then this doesn’t help too much.

This episode has been created for you to listen to now, and come back to as often as you like, to guide you through the what, the why and the how of the Ujjayi breath. The what, the why and the how are all timestamped if you want to skip to a particular section!

[01:29] The what

[03:39] The why

[06:31] The how

As always, we would love to know what you think of the our All of Yoga Podcast, do leave an honest review if you can, or drop us a message @beayogahero

Once you’ve mastered the breath, you’ll likely want to incorporate it in to a physical class at your leisure, so below is a completely free 10 minute class, for you to try just that!

Listen to ‘Ujjayi breath; the what, why and how‘ where you get your podcasts:

Thank you, and happy listening!

Ujjayi Breath – The what, why and how – Transcript

The What

Ujjayi breath is actually Ujjayi pranayama. So what does that mean? Pranayama indicates a breathing exercise, but it is a Sanskrit word. Or if you slow it down and split it up: prana ayama.
Prana is the energy in yoga. A bit more than blood or energy, it’s a vital energy, a life force; and this will be the focus of a future episode, so do keep your eyes peeled for that.
Ayama means to expand. So pranayama, the breathing exercises, expand our vital energy!

Ujjayi means victorious. Victorious! So why would a simple breathing practice be related in any way to victory?

Well as we know, yoga is much more than just the physical practice, yoga is the science of the mind. You could say it’s the mastery of the mind… meaning mastery over thoughts. Thoughts is something that we’ll really be getting in to a lot in this podcast, but for now, trust me I’m a yoga teacher, believe that it IS possible to have space between thoughts. It IS possible to have a thought, and not immediately think it’s true or be wrapped up in it. It IS possible to have a thought, without it triggering another, and another and another in very quick succession. And victorious is that victory, the victory over the incessant thoughts. Victory over a busy busy mind.

The Why

The why. Well unsurprisingly, the main why, as to why you would practice Ujjayi is to work towards that victory over an incessantly thinking mind. The good news is, that we don’t have to practice for years and years and years to see results; in fact, I believe that it’s possible to experience an improvement maybe even straight away. Maybe not a vast change, but a little change. A little space between thoughts. A little step towards acceptance.  A little shift towards feeling a touch calmer, meaning you’re able to sleep a bit better, so then you feel more alive tomorrow. Little changes, but that build up the more we practice.

There are a couple of other reasons why you’d practice the Ujjayi breath. As we’ll find out in the how section, the ujjayi breath is a slight narrowing of the throat, so the same amount of air that you’d normally breathe – actually probably more – is passing through a smaller space, and a by-product of that is heat, so it helps to warm you from the inside.

The ujjayi breath also produces a sound, some call it the ocean sound, some call it a Darth Vader sound!, but this sounds gives you something to focus on when you practice. And when you’re focused on the breath, you’re not being pulled around by your shopping list, your email inbox, your to do list, that really annoying text you got from your neighbour… etc. It gives us time and space away from the incessant thoughts. When the ujjayi sound has gone, you know you’ve got distracted, and that’s a trigger to come back to the breath, back to the present moment, back to the technique.

The How

You’ll want to focus on this completely, so if you’re driving or concentrating on other things, come back to this when you’re ready. Find yourself a comfortable sitting position and no you do not have to sit on the floor! You can also stand, that would be fine. However, where ever you are, make the spine long and tall. And take a couple of deep breaths, and relax any areas that are tense.

First of all, we’ll inhale and sigh the exhale breath out, just like you’re fogging up glasses to clean them.

Keep going with this, but when you’re ready start to pay attention to the patterning of the throat as you sign the breath out – this is how you’ll have the throat for ujjayi.

Keep going, on an exhale keep the lips together so the exhale will come out of the nose, but you still have that slight constriction of the throat that you did when you were sighing the exhale out of the mouth.

Keep going, and on your next inhale, keep that patterning of the throat – so now you have the slight constriction on your inhale and on your exhale breath. This is the ujjayi breath technique!

Watch out for tension in the shoulders as you inhale, try to keep them relaxed and send the inhale deeper into the lungs.

Keep going, now focusing on making the inhale and exhale even in length, and even in power.

Then, when you’re ready, pause, let go of the technique and see how you feel.

As you get more experienced and more confident, you can play with how dynamic and subtle you can make it, and how that makes you feel.

Well done!

All of Yoga Episode List

Episode 1 – Yoga Nidra for Deep Sleep

Episode 2 – Ujjayi breath – the what, the why and the how

Episode 3 – What is Yoga?

Episode 4 – The thing about thoughts

Episode 5 – Self love – the what, why and how

Episode 6 – Yoga teacher training – the what, why and how

Episode 7 – Micro rest, midi rest and maxi rest

Episode 8 – Ways to deepen and advance your yoga practice

Episode 9 – Styles of Yoga – Ashtanga

Episode 10 – Forgiveness

Episode 11 – Styles of Yoga – Yin

Episode 12 – The four types of people and the four ways to treat them

Episode 13 – Align your intentions and actions

Episode 14 – How to prepare for your first yoga class

Episode 15 – Tips for developing a regular yoga practice

Episode 16 –  Start Yoga in September

Episode 17: Styles of yoga – Restorative Yoga

Episode 18: Beautiful guided Savasana

Episode 19: Control the controllables

Episode 20: How to stop overthinking, according to yoga

Episode 21: Morning Yoga Nidra for a great day!