Yoga Breathing Technique to Feel Great, Sleep Better & Live Longer

Ujjayi Yoga Pranayama

Yoga Breathing Technique to Cure Insomnia & Promote Longevity

What is Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Yoga Pranayama, or the victorious breath, is another breathing technique worth having tucked away in your toolbox of valuable yoga exercises for optimum living.  Anytime you find that you can’t sleep, need to relax, regain your health, get a dose of joy or prepare your mind for meditation, you can pull out this amazing technique and enjoy it’s wide ranging benefits.

Ujjayi Yoga Pranayama is an integral part of Hatha Yoga and is widely used by many different schools of yoga.  On Mastery of Meditation & Yoga, this breathing technique will be chapter 10 on our ongoing Free Online Yoga Breathing Exercises E-book.

The great thing about Ujjayi Yoga Pranayama is that you can practice it anytime and in any position (in fact I am doing and enjoying this technique even as I write this article now), but the tricky part is that, although it is a very simple technique, it is a little bit difficult to describe in words.  Nevertheless, I will try to explain it the best way possible and am sure soon enough it will become a part of your yoga knowledge and spiritual practice. 

Below are the bountiful benefits of this breathing technique, followed by step-by-step instructions on how to practice this pranayama.

Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama:

  • Relaxes the mind and calms the entire organism down.
  • Promotes a sense of joy and peace.
  • Prepares the mind for meditation.
  • Rebalanced the internal systems, helps the body regain it’s equilibrium and promotes longevity.
  • Excellent technique for those who can’t sleep and helps treat insomnia.
  • Helps lower blood pressure.

Cautions for Ujjayi Pranayama:

Although there are not many cautions for practicing Ujjayi Pranayama, I have presented an advanced version below, which you should not rush to do until you have developed your capacity sufficiently.  So, in other words, steady gentle progress is the name of the game.

Instructions for Beginner’s Ujjayi Breathing Technique:

As I mentioned above, one of the best parts of this breathing technique is that you can practice it in any position.  You are welcome to do Ujjayi Pranayama, sitting, standing, lying down or even while taking a walk.

  • Start by taking five long, deep, slow breaths to help relax you.

  • Close your eyes if you like.  Do close them if you can’t sleep and are going to use this breathing technique to help you conquer insomnia.

  • Now comes the slightly tricky part.  You can going to constrict the throat muscles slightly and visualize as if you are breathing through a hole in your throat.  This slight constriction and visualization should lead to the air making a soft oceanic sound as it passes through your throat region.  The sound should be that of the distant ocean surf.  Steady and soft as you inhale and also, steady and soft as you exhale.  Pretend as if you are breathing not through your nose, but your throat instead.

  • Continue to breathe in this way and allow you entire mind and body to be consumed by this pleasant sound.  Find a nice slow rhythm and lose yourself to it.

  • Continue on for as long as you like, or until you fall asleep .

Instructions for Advanced Ujjayi Breathing Technique:

The advanced version of this technique incorporates breath retention into the cycle.  Don’t use the advanced version if you are employing the technique to help you sleep.  Simply use the beginner’s version and extend the time for inhalation and exhalation to a comfortable level.

For the advanced version, you are going to develop the inhalation, hold breath in, exhalation time cycle to a ratio of x-4x-2x.  So if you inhale for 4 seconds, you will hold your breath in for 16 seconds and then use 8 seconds to exhale.  But it is very important that you move towards this ratio slowly.

A good approach is to work up to 4-4-4 and then gently increase the hold and exhalation portion to 4-5-5 until, 4-8-8.  Then work your way up to 4-9-8 and onwards to 4-16-8.  Again, find an approach that suits you, but in all cases don’t strain or overdo it.

You can practice Ujjayi Pranayama for 11 minutes or more.

Ujjayi Breathing Technique Final Thoughts:

Remember the key to this technique is the soft sound you are creating with the air passing through your throat.  It is like the very soft snoring of a sleeping baby, and hopefully that is how it will help you sleep as well. 

Another breathing technique which bestows similar benefits to Ujjayi Pranayama is Anuloma Viloma Pranayama, which is perhaps the most famous of all yoga breathing exercises.

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23 replies
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  1. Voice 365
    Voice 365 says:

    Hi Anmol,

    What is the difference in benefits between Ujjayi and Anuloma Viloma Pranayama? You mentioned they are similar. When would you choose one technique over the other?

    Reply
  2. Greg
    Greg says:

    I feel like I get flam when doing this and I can’t seem to breath like this for a long time. Every ten breaths I have to swallow really hard. Is this normal?

    Reply

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