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Ujjai Breathing | Ocean Sounding Breathing Technique

"Ujjayi breathing, to get a real feeling

Yogi gonna let you know

That I wish you were here with me"

- from Ziggy Marley “Beach in Hawaii”

Ujjai Breathing

Ujjayi means "one who is victorious"

It comes from the Sanskrit where “Ujji” means "to be victorious".

“Ud” means “bondage" or "binding" as well as "upward" and "expanding." It suggests a sense of power and upliftment.

‘Jaya’ means victory and success or "to conquer" or "acquire by conquest”.

Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) breath means "breath of victory". it is the basic breathing technique we use in yoga practice

The reason this is called the victorious breath is that the expansion in the belly and chest occurs during the breathing

Ujjayi breathing is sometimes called "the ocean breath", as the sounds of movement of air in the glottis (throat) resembles the sounds of ocean waves.

This is a technique that builds heat in the body and relaxes the mind. It suits students of all levels—from beginner to advanced

The distinctive sound The Ujjayi breath is a profound meditative state that oxygenates the blood and balances the male and female energies.

This breathing is deeper than normal, making it different from regular breathing

Like all pranayama, it’s best to learn Ujjayi in person from a qualified instructor.

How to do :

  • Sit in the most comfortable position for you, like with crossed legs, or sitting on a chair, sitting in Hero pose with your back straight or in child pose

  • Bring your chin toward chest

  • Place your hands on your knees, palms facing up, or sideways or downwards, with arms straight and shoulders soft

  • Place the bottom of your tongue against the roof of your mouth while the tip of your tongue is pointing toward the back of the mouth, as far back as it can go without strain

  • Close your eyes. Breathe in and out through the nose.

  • Take a slightly deeper inhalation through your nose. Then exhale slowly through your nose while constricting the muscles in the back of your throat (the glottis).

  • The constriction should create a deep sound that resembles the sound of ocean waves If you have trouble getting the right sound for your breath, try this: With your mouth open, try exhaling while making the sound “AAAAH”. It makes a very similar to the sound you make when you are trying to fog up a mirror

  • Do it a couple of times until you get comfortable with this form of breathing

  • Now close your mouth and attempt to do the same sound while you exhale, You will feel the outflow of air through your nose

  • Once you have mastered this on the exhales, use the same method for the inhales, gently constricting the back of your throat as you breath in.

If you are practicing this exercise correctly you should sound like waves in the ocean

the inhales can be compared to the sound the ocean makes as the water is gathering up to form the wave, the exhales can be compared to the sound of the waves crashing to the shore Focus on maintaining an even breath (4 -6 counts) on inhale and exhale

If you have natural pause after inhaling and exhaling let it be, natural pause is not locking Once you can comfortably sit in a static position maintain 10-20 continuous Ujjayi breaths. The challenge is to maintain this same quality of breathing as you move through your asana practice. Please note * Relax your throat, soft palate, tongue, neck and jaw completely. * Inhale into low ribs all the way around and also soften the belly/pelvis/low back as if they inhale slightly too. * Exhale: hug the pelvic floor, low belly and then low ribcage in and up in that order, to press the breath out through a totally open, soft throat. * Notice where you tend to hold tension around the neck, jaw, tongue, inner throat, soft palate. Aim to keep the tension released until you create a new habit of freedom instead of constriction. Try not to do

  • Nostrils sucking in and flaring out

  • Only making Ujjayi sound on the Exhale

  • Irregular breathing,

  • On and Off breathing

  • Too much effort, not enough ease , affected facial muscles


  • Creates internal body heat and energy

  • Helps to release tension

  • Lengthens your breath

  • Strengthens your lungs and diaphragm

  • Increases the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream

  • Regulates the blood pressure

  • Helps us maintain focus and a good flow during the yoga practice

  • Increases self-awareness and brings us to the present moment

  • A well performed Ujjayi adds value to any yoga practice

  • Increases focus and concentration

  • Relaxes mind and body

  • Energizing

  • Soothes and rejuvenates the nervous system

When to Use Ujjayi Breath

  • When you are practicing yoga: Try and direct your attention to the Ujjayi breathing while you are practicing yoga.

  • It will help you stay focused and flow easily from one asana to the other.

  • When you are feeling anxious, stressed or out of balance: Ujjayi breath is really good for settling anxiety and stress, also for balancing the mind.

  • If you find yourself feeling anxious or stressed, try shifting into Ujjayi breath. You should notice a calming effect after a few rounds.

  • The steadiness, sound, and depth of the Ujjayi breath helps to link the mind, body, and spirit to the present moment.

  • This unification adds richness and depth to your practice and helps to cultivate presence and awareness, preparing your meditation.

The more you practice the more you will feel comfort and you will start exploring Ujjayi breath deeper and start noticing the difference in how we react or approach our asana practice.

When we have a breath driven practice, the posture comes out of following the breath. The breath connects you to the feeling of the pose. It lets you trace the body as the muscles engage.

You can follow the sensations of expansion as you give the posture back to the breath.

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