"Become aware of your breathing. Now, narrow your throat passageway, and create the ocean wave sounding breath, ujjayi" - sound familiar? We do it in almost every yoga class!
Benefits of Ujjayi Prānāyāma
“[Ujjayi] destroys defects of the energy channels, dropsy and disorders of the bodily tissues. It can be practiced in all conditions of life, while standing, sitting or walking.” - Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Okay... here is a list to get you started & motivated!
How to Practice Ujjayi Prānāyāma
“Having closed the opening of the nādi [larynx], the air should be drawn in such a way that it goes touching from the throat to the chest, making a noise whilst passing”. - Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The Restorative Approach to Ujjayi
“Too much force, omitting proper instruction, may cause excess pressure and thus problems for the head, ears, eyes, etc.” - Hatha Yoga Pradipika
1) Easeful & Gentle - Use just enough muscular narrowing of the throat to create the sound - excessive use of those muscles will cause tension in your neck and all the way down the length of your spine. This tension will actually block the ability of your body to uptake the oxygen and the prāna during the practice, and excessive efforting will certainly limit or prevent the quieting effect on the mind that is the purpose of yoga.
2) Quiet & Peaceful - Keeping the sound intenral - not excessively loud - will help the mind draw inward to the sound. This is inline with the yogic practice of pratyahara (inward turning of the mind and senses).
Contraindications for Ujjayi Prānāyāma
1) Do NOT do ujjayi prānayāma during or after release spinal poses, as this can lead to spinal spasms or other forms of acute pain (see effects above for more on this) - ujjayi is totally fine and beneficial during poses in other styles of yoga practice
2) For a person with neck pain, serious neck tension or neck injury, this practice may be ineffective, counter-productive or even harmful, as they have a tendency to tight their neck, choose an alternative practice, including simple natural, gentle breathing with awareness
3) A person taking immunosuppressant pharmaceuticals (as in the case of having had an organ transplant), should NOT practice ujjayi prānāyama, as it can disrupt the life-saving effect of the immunosuppressant.
Yoga Therapist, Ayurvedic Practitioner & Mama - these articles are to support your yoga practice with knowledge and inspiration.