Yoga Breathing Technique to Feel Great

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.

Yoga Breathing Technique to Feel Great

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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24 replies
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  1. Patricia Khan
    Patricia Khan says:

    Suggestions: for going to sleep is to create a relaxing mantra: as you Inhale….say “relax” and you exhale “let it go”. It surely quiets the monkey mind ….gets boring….and then you’re off to sleep. :-D
    For practicing the throat constriction for Ujjayi breath: Imagine you are holding a mirror…..open your mouth and fog the mirror. Then close your mouth and make the same noise on Inhalation and Exhalation …..a subdued Darth Vador sound :-D PatKhan

    Reply
  2. vijaya kurup
    vijaya kurup says:

    Dear Anmol
    can you pl suggest some yoga/breathing for singers which will improve voice and sing long phrases?

    Reply
  3. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    When doing this breath I find I’m unsure if we are to breath through the mouth or nose. Could you clarify please? Thanks for all the great information you have shared! What a blessing!

    Reply
  4. Aileen
    Aileen says:

    Great advice, It seems to me that there is a wealth of knowledge to understand for a relative newbie like myself. I thought I would start off with breathing exercises so I purchased a book which I think is what I am looking for I seem to be getting a bit overwhelmed with all the advice given everywhere and I don’t know if I have gone out of my league for a beginner. If anyone can give me any info or advice would be greatfully appreciated. The author of the book is YOGI RAMACHARAKA. If anyone can advise me if I have jumped too far ahead of myself for just starting out. This is the site where I purchased the book online at
    . I am not
    doubting the content of the book It has been fascinating reading so far. I only want to know if this is right for someone like myself. Thanks
    Aileen.

    Reply
  5. Trupti Mehta
    Trupti Mehta says:

    Nitin,

    Sodarshan Kriya is normally done for a minimum of 40 days, but mastering it can take quite a bit longer.

    We will work on the Ujjayi Pranayam video … keep an eye out for it.

    All the best,
    Trupti

    Reply
  6. nitin
    nitin says:

    Hi Anmol,
    I feel a lot of difference mentally and physically just in 5 days of yoga exercises
    from your website.The energy level is far better than before and i feel effortless in doing my work.Thanks a lot!!!!

    Can you please post a video demonstrating ujjayi pranayama?
    Also in sudarshan kriya, how long will it take to master it?

    Once again thanking you,
    God Bless you ,
    Nitin…….

    Reply
  7. nitin
    nitin says:

    Hi Anmol,

    Keep up the great work!
    I believe many people will benefit a great deal from these techniques including me.

    Are there any meditation techniques which if done before sleep would help me to sleep fast?Iam not able to sleep early at night and thus not able to rise early.

    With lots of good wishes,
    nitin………..

    Reply
  8. Angela
    Angela says:

    Dear Anmol,

    This question is awkward but here goes….in order for the alternate breathing exercises to be effective the air from inhale and exhale needs to enter in by the side of the nostril that is left opened. This is impossible for me due to my lack of a septum. The air simply does not enter my body correctly for the alternate breathing exercises to be effective. With this being said, what would you recommend as far as breathing exercises that I can do to get the benefits that alternate breathing is so rich in. I hope there is some because the breathing exercises are a top component for the body in all areas and my favorite part.

    Thank you and have a wonderful day,

    Angela

    Reply
  9. Niyati
    Niyati says:

    Yoga today is very important in people’s life. It keeps people healthy. Yoga and Meditation are effective in the treatment of insomnia. And I have some good yoga tips at which will help u.

    Reply
  10. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi La Vonne,

    Cycling will help by increasing your blood flow, overall energy and respiratory systems. All of which are important for progress with Kundalini. It is a great way to complement a Kundalini Yoga practice, which is designed to focus these capacities to specific regions of the body, to balance chakras and promote greater flow of Kundalini.

    Exercise has been know to awaken kundalini, and the rhythmic alternating motion of cycling would seem a very balancing activity, but as above I would say it is better seen as a complimenting activity than a primary way to awaken the chakras.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  11. La Vonne St Clair
    La Vonne St Clair says:

    Good Morning, Anmol. It’s lovely to read your articles each week. I am planning to take up bike riding as soon as the weather warms up a bit and I have question about it. Does the repetetive leg and back motion of pedaling help to balance the chakras and raise the kundalini energy? Love to know, thanks, La Vonne

    Reply

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