Breathing is the new meditation
Not all of us have a meditation practise and in fact, the idea of sitting still and trying to focus and quieten down the monkey mind can be incredibly daunting. You may be familiar with Ujjayi breath from your Ashtanga or vinyasa yoga classes – where we present this (sometimes Darth Vader style) breath as the ‘victorious breath’ (ji = to conquer and ud = bondage) to focus and train the mind during our asana practise.
* Improves the respiratory and circulatory systems
Ujjayi is all about what’s happening in the throat. While it can be practiced in many different positions, we’ll go through the steps while sitting in a traditional meditation posture.
1. Sit comfortably in any seated pose, utilising any cushions or props you might need to be comfortable for a while sitting – often comfort is the key to the practise! Lift the crown of your head toward the sky to lengthen the spine and bring the chin parallel to the floor. Close your eyes.
2. Rest the palms on your knees or bring your thumb and index finger together into a mudra – this creates a circuit that directs prana (life force energy) toward the brain.
3. Take three natural breaths through the nose. Fill the belly with each inhalation and feel the belly draw naturally toward the spine with each exhalation.
4. Gently contract the back of the throat (the glottis) and inhale slowly through the nose. This creates a soft sound of the sea in the throat. Keeping the throat contracted, exhale slowly through the nose. Each breath should be long, deep, and practiced with awareness. When first learning Ujjayi, the breath is usually quite audible. With practice, it becomes so subtle that it’s only audible to the practitioner themselves.
5. Practice Ujjayi for 3-5 minutes, concentrating on the sound of the breath.
6. End on an exhalation and return to natural breathing.
There are no restrictions or contra-indications to ujjayi breath – so you can practise any time of day – even after food. Build your breath practise and feel the benefits! Enjoy! x