I can’t believe it is so hard to find a simple explanation of Ujjayi breath(ing). There is loads of information that talks about the spiritual links and nature and it origins. This article is about the mechanics of Ujjayi breathing for those who are just not into the spiritualism.
Before you start using Ujjayi Breath various situations to manage pain, alleviate discomfort or in your quest for greater sexual satisfaction, it is best to just practice the breathing technique on its own. The Ujjayi breath is typically done in association with asana practice. Asana is any posture useful for restoring and maintaining a persons well-being and improving the body’s flexibility and vitality. Primarily though, its origins are cultivating the ability to remain in seated meditation for extended periods.
Inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose. An “ocean sound” is created by moving the glottis as air passes in and out. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm, the strengthening of which is, in part, the purpose of ujjayi. The inhalations and exhalations should be equal in duration, and are controlled in a manner that causes no distress to the practitioner. i.e. don’t strain to fill your lungs or empty them.
Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath. Keeping your chest still, you first fill the lower belly which pushes your belly out. Then rise to the lower rib cage and finally the upper chest and throat. When you lungs are full, hold your breath for a second or two. Don’t block your nasal passage with your tongue or pallet to hold the breath in, just hold your diaphragm and chest muscles in place. You should be able to allow small amounts of air to flow in and out if you wanted to.
When you breath out, let the air rush out at first (to make the ocean sound) and just let the breath slow to a stop at the end and relax with your lungs empty for a second or two. Again, don’t block the airways. Then start the cycle again..
Practice this in a comfortable sitting position with your eyes closed. No sooner than you think you are comfortable you will want to touch/scratch your nose or rub your eye or scratch your forehead. The idea is to breath through those moments and remain still. Focus on the breath flowing up through the top of your nasal passages and into the back of your throat in a big arc. Then back the other way. Listen to the “Ocean sound”. If you can’t feel it, imagine the air flowing up into your skull and your nasal passages opening.
The idea is to stay focused on your breath or breathing. As you relax you will start to daydream or maybe start pondering some part of the day or something you still need to do. Just slowly bring your thoughts back to your breathing as soon as you realise your mind is straying.
These are the mechanical and mental processes for a good Ujjayi breath. When you can breath through the itchy nose and other distracting sensations you will find that you can breath through all sorts of discomforts and even painful events.
It is a good way to wind down at the end of a day. It is basically a form of meditation in itself. Great way to relax before sex too.