Ujjayi Pranayama Technique is one of the eight major types of Pranayama. It is a simple breath control technique that is very easy to practice, yet gives many benefits. It stimulates and balances the Pranic energy that flows through the Nadis. Unlike Sitali and Sitkari, it generates heat. Gheranda Samhita glorifies this breathing as all works can be accomplished with this technique which removes the diseases of phlegm, digestive disorders, cough, fever, enlarged spleen, and nervous disorders. It further adds that a yogi should practice this to get rid of death and decay. It is the only breathing control technique that can be practiced even during the time lying, standing, or walking. However, it is applicable only for variations without retention. When you combine retention with any breathing exercise, it is always advisable in a sitting yoga posture.
As it generates heat, it is a very good practice for the winter and rainy seasons. In summer, you should combine the practice with Sitali and Sitkari Pranayamas.
What is Ujjayi Pranayama?
Ujjayi Pranayama Meaning
The Sanskrit word उज्जायी means the one who is victorious. According to Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga, the word means the practice that conquers bondage. Simply put. it is the practice that removes the obstacles (diseases). Some people call it Ocean Breathing because it creates a sound like the ocean.
Ujjayi Pranayama Steps
Steps – Basic Technique
- Sit in a meditative Asana.
- Then, close your eyes, place your palms on the respective thighs, and assume Gyan or Chin Mudra.
- Take a slow and long breath. Also, watch the breath going in and out.
- Now, contract the glottis and create a gentle pressure as feeble as it could be. To understand this, observe normal breathing. During normal breathing, the incoming and outgoing breath presses the inside walls of the nose. In Ujjayi breathing, you have to shift the pressure from the nose to the throat. If you give more pressure than required, the results would be unfavorable. If the sound of breathing is audible, it means that you are overdoing it.
- Prolong the practice for up to 15-30 minutes. If you are feeling hot, know that it is time to stop.
Steps – Advanced Technique
Adding retention to the above steps is the next stage. However, the variation that requires retention as well as the steps in the advanced technique enumerated below should be followed only in a sitting position.
- Follow Steps 1 to 4.
- First, assume Khechari Mudra and continue Ujjayi breathing.
- Before exhaling, Assume Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha.
- Now, exhale and tilt your head towards the chest along with your breath. When you are at the close of exhaling, your chin should have touched the upper part of the chest. Now, Jalandhara Bandha is in place.
- Retain the breath while three Bandhas and Kechari Mudra are in place.
- At the end of retention, release the three Bandhas and retain Kechari Mudra.
- Then repeat the steps from Step 3 of Advanced Variety.
Ujjayi Pranayama Benefits
Ujjayi provides the practitioner with tranquillity and calmness. It removes stress and anxiety by stimulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System. Hence, it reduces the heart rate, Blood Pressure, and respiratory rate. This was concluded in a study conducted on 60 healthy adults who were doing the practice for three months.
The role of voice is significant in communication. The voice quality is imminent for professional voice users. One study by M.Usha, et al suggested that Ujjayi may be used in voice rehabilitation as a vocal warm-up exercise.
It improves the cognitive abilities like attention and memory of the individuals. Hence, the practice can be used in the student community for better results.
It activates and balances the throat Chakra.
A study by Vinutha S (2019) found that Ujjayi reduces the BMI (Body Mass Index), Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), and Triiodothyramin (T3). The study noted no change in Thyroxine (T3) hypothyroid patients. However, the practice ensures weight reduction in hypothyroid patients. Moreover, various other studies found that it is effective in decreasing hypothyroidism.
According to Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it cures the disorders of Phlegm and increases appetite. Also, it destroys all the defects of Nadis, fluid retention, and the disorders of Dhâtu (humor).
The practice helps with conditions of insomnia. One may combine this practice with Shavasana to fall asleep quickly and get a good night’s sleep.
Regular practice of Ujjayi Pranayama helps to have good cardiovascular and respiratory health apart from the mental health benefits like fighting stress and anxiety. Also, it aids in meditation, Kundalini, and advanced hatha yoga practices. However, the incorrect practice may lead to unfavorable results. Hence, one should learn the technique from a Yoga Guru before practicing.