Muscles trembling, mind wandering, thinking about work that day or what to have for dinner that night, sweat beading on my brow, and wondering how an earth I can hold this posture for a second longer! I am sure anyone who has practised yoga has experienced this… then the teacher reminds me to come back to my Ujjayi breath and suddenly everything seems so much easier, the tension is lifted, my mind is focused on my body and I feel strong again.
There are so many types of breathing (Pranayama) in yoga. Whether it be heating, cooling, energising or relaxing, each one aids your body and mind in different ways. Since teaching I have been starting many of my classes practising Ujjayi breathing. Ujjayi breathing helps create warmth in the body, oxygenises the blood, brings a stillness to the mind, aids concentration and makes holding asanas for a period of time less strenuous.
Ujjayi Breathing Technique:
1. Make sure you are sitting comfortably; your back should be straight, long and keep your shoulders away from your ears. (tip – if your back is rounding or your knees are too much off the floor place your sitting bones on a block or a cushion).
2. Close your eyes and breathe naturally for a few minutes letting your mind settle and your breathing come in to an effortless rhythm.
3. Once you feel ready to start, inhale deeply constricting the muscles at the back of your throat as you would do if you were fogging up a window or whispering and on exhalation. Your breath should be audible sounding like an ocean or a sleeping baby (maybe a bit like Darth Vader!)
4. Continue your Ujjayi breathing through your nose letting your mind focus on the sound of inhalation and exhalation.
5. Using Ujjayi breathing throughout your practise really helps to keep your concentration, balance, grounding in the asana and makes meditation so much sweeter.
If you have never practised Ujjayi breathing before, why not give it a try and see the benefits it brings to your practise!