Ujjayi Breathing to Help You Focus on Your Breath
Ujjayi breathing has quickly become my favourite breaths to teach and to practice. For me, it is the best way to focus my monkey mind. The gentle ocean-like sound and natural lengthening of the breath help me relax in no time.
I love teaching ujjayi breathing to students because it is fairly straight forward and most people catch on quite quickly. I also teach ujjayi breathing a lot in class for the same reasons I practice it myself.
This type of breath works at any time during a yoga class. During opening meditation ujjayi breathing is wonderful because it slows the breath and focuses the mind so easily. It’s great to practice during a vinyasa class because the sound of the breath makes it easier to focus on and students don’t lose their breath during fast movements. Sometimes I will pause in Tadasana or Balasana in the middle of class to give students time to reconnect with their breath, focus their mind, and ground their self.
How to practice Ujjayi breathing:
- Sit in a comfortable position with a tall spine and shoulders relaxed
- Place your palm a couple inches infront of your mouth
- Breath in and out through an open mouth
- Now, gently constrict the back of your through like you would if you were whispering or fogging up a mirror
- After a few breaths find the same constriction in your throat but inhale through your nose, mouth closed, and exhale through your mouth
- After a few breaths like this place your hand down and find the same constriction breathing in and out through your nose
- Now you’re practicing ujjayi breathing!
- Continue to breath this way, in and out through your nose, for as long as you like.
You can view a video demonstration of ujjayi breathing here.
Ujjayi breathing requires a gentle constriction of your through and because the space for your breath to move through becomes smaller your breath natural lengthens. This is also what causes the gentle ocean like sound which is the reason for the nickname ‘Ocean Breath’. These two aspects are what help focus your mind. Ujjayi breath also helps to heat your body so it’s great to practice in the early morning, evening and on cooler days.
How often do you practice ujjayi breathing, on and off the mat?
by Ally Potrebka, RYT200, Yogacara Teacher Trainer