Ocean Breath, Ujjayi Pranayama
Ujjayi pranayama or ocean breath was also known as Victorious breath, conqueror's breath and sounding breath. The sound made by this breath could be compared to that made by the ocean, which can have a tranquilizing influence. It is done by making a soft hissing sound or a gentle snore and is one of the important pranayama or yoga breathing techniques.
The Sanskrit word 'Ujjayi' means 'one who is victorious'.
Sound, which is a form of vibration, is one of the means that yoga employs to harmonize the vibration of your body and mind. In fact, the repetition of special sounds is one of the older and more potent techniques of yoga. Mantra yoga or chanting is one way of training the mind to develop concentration.
Hatha yoga or the practice of yoga poses includes various methods of breath control, all of which belong to the more advanced practices and traditionally follow extensive purification of the body and mind. It is best done at the intermediary to advanced levels. There are only a few that are suitable for beginners. Ujjayi pranayama is suitable for beginners.
Ujjayi pranayama is done in association with yoga pose practice and is a diaphragmatic breathing technique. Inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose unlike in the Shitali Pranayama or cooling breath. Ujjayi pranayama builds internal body heat. It is especially important during transition into and out of yoga poses, helping the student stay in the present, self-aware and grounded in the practice.
Research studies have been conducted on the effects of practicing pranayama on oxygen consumption, its effect on metabolic rate and on the heart rate.
Did you know that the practice of pranayama can remove toxins from the body?
Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama
There are many benefits gained by practicing pranayama regularly. Some of the benefits of practicing ujjayi pranayama or ocean breath are:
- strengthens the diaphragm
- slows down the mind
- stills the emotions
- expels stale air from the lungs
- purifies the respiratory system
- the sound or sonar breathing stimulates the energetic centre at the throat
- relaxes the body
- slows the heart rate
- lowers blood pressure
- induces a deeper and more restful sleep
- gets rid of toxins in the body
- improves concentration
- stimulates the metabolic rate
- increases blood circulation
- increases oxygen absorption of the lungs
- reduces migraines
- improves digestion
- strengthens the condition of the lungs
How to do Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Breath or Victorious Breath
It is a good idea to visualize the cleansing, calming ocean when you practice this pranayama breathing technique:
- Sit upright comfortably cross-legged on the floor or lie in Corpse Pose. You can also sit upright on a chair in the Egyptian pose.
- Exhale completely.
- Draw in the breath slowly through your nose, allowing the inhalation to fill your abdomen and lungs.
- Contract the back of your throat slightly and make a soft, hissing sound as you exhale and inhale slowly through the nose
- The sound emitted should be audible but not too loud, similar to the sound of steam softly escaping from a radiator or a gentle snore.
- Continue breathing slowly, focussing on the sound you make, as you inhale and exhale.
- Repeat 3-5 times.
In the beginning it is a good idea to do it 3-5 times then gradually increases to 3-10 minutes over the next few weeks.
Resources for Further Practice
- Effects of Pranayama on the Brain
by Sannyasi Sivagyana (Richard Budden), Australia -- Yoga Magazine - Magazine of the Bihar School of Yoga. Discourses, Yoga Research, Articles and more from one of the worlds most respected yoga schools.
- How to Comfortably Sit Cross Legged in Yoga
Many of us take sitting cross legged on the floor for granted. However, are we in perfect balance and alignment when we sit on the floor. Find out how to sit correctly and for long periods to practice yoga, pranayama or meditation.
- Yoga Breathing Exercises, Pranayama
Yoga breathing techniques or pranayama are an ancient yogic tradition and can be easily applied to our modern lifestyles. It has many physical and mental health benefits that will help you enrich the quality of your life.
One of the best books I have read on Pranayama, this book by Richard Rosen can help you begin the practice without a teacher and do it yourself for a year. Of course having a teacher is the best way. However, this book addresses the beginner level and will help to make a start.