Ujjayi breath is the foundation of the power yoga practice. It is the tread that connects every piece of the practice together. With out it we are working through a great exercise program, but we’ve lost what makes it Yoga.
How to practice with Ujjayi breath
For some people learning to practice with ujjayi breath takes a bit of time, but once you’ve learnt it you won’t lose it, and it’s worth any effort it takes!
Vinyasa is a system in which breath correlates with movement. For every breath there is a movement, and for every movement there is a breath. Sometimes the movement will be very subtle (e.g. lengthening the spine on an inhale or gently relaxing on an exhale) but there is always this connection between movement and breath. In time, we don’t actually distinguish movements from breath, instead they become one.
Also in power vinyasa yoga the inhale always correlates with expanding the body (e.g. moving into upward dog, lengthening of the spine) while the exhale correlate with contracting or deepening (e.g. downward dog, rotating further, bending forward)
Learning Ujjayi breath
Breathing in and out of your nostrils, gently constrict the throat muscles and make an ocean-like sound. Allow your ribcage to expand, filling your lungs completely with each inhale. See if you can keep uddiyana bandha engaged (drew navel gently to spine) through this whole process so that the belly stays still and lifted as the ribcage expands and releases like the wing of a bird.
The sunglasses exercise
Imagine you want to clean your sunglasses. Pretend to hold them about 10cm in front of your mouth and make the “haaa” sound you would to fog them up. After doing this a few times, imagine you are pulling that same air back into the mouth. Once your comfortable going both in and out, keep doing the same thing only close your mouth and let the air enter and leave from the nostrils. You might also find it helpful to add a subtle yogi smile to the inhalation! J
Have fun playing with it as it really will take your practice to another level and might even experience a glimpse of meditation in motion, if you haven’t already done so.
Think this is plenty for you all for now and will give you more in a few weeks. So if there is any thing in particular let us know.
Take care & keep shining brightly & loving deeply
See you on the mat, Namaste