Ocean waves, see-saw effect, soft whisper, hissing, Darth Vader breath…giggles vibrate the yoga studio. What is an ujjayi breath? New to yoga, ujjayi is quite the foreign word. It is Sanskrit meaning “victorious breath.” Mastering the breath. Staying in the moment with breathing. The breath, the respiratory system, the lungs flowing of oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, is the only autonomic system we can control.
What is an ujjayi breath? Ujjayi breathing is a slow, rhythmic breath used in most yoga classes. The breath is done in and out of the nostrils. The inhale is victorious, full and vibrant. The exhale is cleansing, and audible from air tickling the vocal cords. A gentle breath which brings awareness to our inhalations and exhalations. A conscious breath to allow mindfulness, self care, and hyper awareness to the body, the outside environment. Traffic jams, chaos, tension… when and wherever life needs to slow down and breathe sweet. Ujjayi breathing slows the heart rate, calms the mind, decreases blood pressure, releases cortisol (stress hormone) and brings heat to the body.
“Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.” -Nelson Mandela
Why do we do this Darth Vader breathing in yoga classes? Not only to release stress, but from my experience when I concentrate on my ujjayi breath it helps me to focus and experience peace. I am able to stay in a balance pose. Be strong in a warrior pose. Relax in a restorative pose. Be present in my body & relax the anxiety in my mind. Most of all bringing attention and awareness to my own yoga practice and my own yoga teaching.
Sit back relax. Take a DEEEEP belly breathe in through the nose. Hold 1-2-3… and out through the nose saying the word haaaaaa…fogging up a mirror, hold 1-2-3! Do this 3 or 4 times and see how you feel more victorious. Then allow the breath to go back on autopilot, enjoying your day.