It’s known as the oceanic breath, breath of victory, or perhaps more jokingly as the Darth Vader breath. Ujjayi pranayama is one of the first breathing techniques you’re invited to integrate with your asana practice. With this kind of breathing practice in your tool kit, your experience on the mat can be transformed from clumsily huffing and puffing through an exercise routine to an ease-filled and powerful movement meditation. Though many teachers had mentioned ujjayi breath in class, I never really knew what it meant. When we were instructed to lead our movements with the breath, I’d just move into the pose while holding my breath, and then squeeze out a breath or two before moving to the next pose.
If it was a particularly fast-moving practice, eventually, I’d be covered in sweat, panting hard, trying desperately to get oxygen into my body, and nowhere near a peaceful state of mind. When we were resting on our hands and knees, Sarah kneeled next to my mat and asked me to watch her while she demonstrated ujjayi. I believe it was this integration of ujjayi breath that broke through a large barrier in my practice for me. Explaining ujjayi pranayama breathing can be a bit tricky without an audiovisual demonstration like Sarah gave me, but I’ll do my best here. Some traditions encourage you to focus on the sound of the breath during inhalations and exhalations. On the inhalation, gently constrict your throat so the base of the tongue contracts slightly.
As you start this practice, you can exhale with your lips open and softly whisper “HA.” To make this sound, your entire tongue drops so you can gently push the air out. You are breathing through your nostrils with both lips closed, but it is not as pronounced as a regular breath.
The more comfortable you get with ujjayi pranayama breathing, the longer your breaths can last, and you can better link it to your movements on the mat for a more powerful and integrated practice.
Zainab has been teaching yoga since 2007 when she taught classes to stressed graduate students while completing a Master's degree in Journalism in New York City. Join the community and discover yoga together with hundreds of thousands from all over the world. Pranayam is a word derived from Sanskrit where "prana" means life force and "yama" means control. There are eight limbs in Ashtanga Yoga where Pranayama is the fourth 'limb.' Many yoga gurus recommend including pranayama with yoga practice along with other limbs such as Niyama, Yama and Asana.
The way we breathe and the function of breathing itself is extremely important in how our body reacts to difficulties. One of the benefits of Pranayama Yoga or Breathing Exercise is that it improves autonomic functions.
Pranayama Yoga or Breathing Exercise, when done regularly, can be beneficial in alleviating asthma symptoms. Ghata: This an advanced stage where your inner processes help you in controlling your breath.
The fourth stage helps you in unraveling your potential for attaining a higher mental level.
Inhale deeply through your nose and you will feel your diaphragm going down, expansion of lungs and your abdomen projecting out.
Exhale rapidly through nostrils and feel your collar bones coming down, deflating of your chest and shrinking of your abdomen. You can feel your diaphragm moving down, permitting the expansion of the lungs and the abdomen forced outward.
Exhale forcefully through both the nostrils with complete emphasis on your exhaling breath along with pulling in of the muscles of your stomach, in order to expel the air. Next, breathe in deeply and slowly through your left nostril till your lungs fill with air. Now take off the thumb from the right nostril and continue to place the right hand adjacent to the nose and lungs filled with air. Exhale through your nose along with a humming sound which should commence from your throat.
Next, very slowly exhale while chanting "Om." The "O" should be long with the "M" kept short.


If you are suffering from any health problems, such as hypertension, hernia, heart problem etc., then make sure to consult your physician and obtain consent before starting pranayama yoga or breathing exercise. If you are doing pranayama yoga or breathing exercise during the evening time, then make sure your stomach is empty. If you have fever or are suffering from any medical condition, then you have to consult with your doctor before starting Pranayama yoga. Individuals having abdominal surgery, wounds, hernias, appendicitis, peritonitis, a prolapsed uterus or rectum, or women who have given birth recently should not do Kapalbhati Pranayam. Children aged more than 5 years should do Bhastrika Pranayam for not more than 2 minutes; and Anulom Vilom and Kapalbhati Pranayam should not exceed 5 minutes. When done mindfully, ujjayi breath is warming and cleansing; it can energize as well as calms and balances.
In those early days, I was so focused on getting the poses “right,” that the breath was virtually forgotten, and since breathing is a fairly subtle action, I’d fake it. Ultimately, I was tiring myself out faster and making my practice harder (and not in a good way). About half way through the class, I can only assume I looked anything but graceful as we moved from pose to pose. My sweating decreased tremendously—because I was no longer struggling to breathe—and my movements became so much more efficient and powerful because they were actually synced with my breath. I hope this makes things a bit clearer and do feel free to let me know if questions come up!
Eventually, once you’re comfortable with this method, keep the lips closed as you whisper “HA” on the exhalation.
Pranayama yoga, also known as breathing yoga, is founded on the beliefs of controlling ones' breath and is almost always a part of yoga.
There are Five Principles of Yoga of which one is Pranayama Yoga, which is a Breathing Exercise. In today's hectic life with air pollution and other breathing problems, we tend to breathe shallowly and this limits the natural functioning of our lungs. According to a modern research, it has been reported that pranayama yoga or breathing exercise is beneficial in treating a variety of stress-related disorders.
This fourth stage is open to analysis and may or may not be included in yoga practice by some practitioners. You can feel your collar bones coming down, deflating of the chest and shrinking of the abdomen. Place the rest of the fingers on the sides of your nose with the pinky fingers adjacent to the nostrils. With your pinky fingers, partially close your nostrils all the while keeping your lungs occupied with air. While doing pranayama, try to keep the muscles of your stomach relaxed, as if they are held too tightly, then oxygen cannot be inhaled deeply into the lungs.
Pranayama breathing is a tool that can help alleviate many of these issues through a consistent practice.
The combination of the two sounds create that oceanic echo, like what you hear when you cup a seashell over your ear. When you sip in air through the nose it will sound like a soft, drawn out “SA.” Let the inhalation last 3 to 4 seconds to start. Zainab's teaching style draws from several styles of practice including Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Prana Flow, Power Yoga and Viniyoga and integrates a practical focus on anatomy and alignment. If we adopt the correct technique of breathing, then the circulation and absorption of oxygen in the body increases and the body is better able to get rid of toxins. This is a breathing series you can do in the comfort of your home or in the company of fellow yogis in a Bikram yoga class.
Let the breath be smooth and continuous, and the soothing echo of the ocean resonates almost automatically. She is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 200 hour-level and is currently completing her certification at the 500-hour level.
By breathing properly in a correct manner, the oxygen supply to the blood and brain is increased and this helps in controlling the "Prana" or vital life. Zainab has trained with New York teachers Charles and Lisa Bennett Matkin, Prana Flow creator Shiva Rea and her senior trainers Twee Merrigan, Simon Park, Maria Garre & Coral Brown.


Pranayama Yoga done in combination with asanas brings about purification and self-discipline of both mind and body in the highest manner. In the 90 minute class, you spend more time doing this opening breathing series than any other posture.
When she is not on a yoga mat, Zainab also spends her time as a freelance writer and editor.
Her work has been published in Fit Yoga, Women’s eNews, Zink, & Living MySore online magazine. After years in New York City, she is embracing country life in the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. By listening to the words of the dialogue, you can bring yourself into the present and learn to react simply to the words, without casting judgement on the teacher delivering them. For extra core strength, at the end of each exhale contract the abs even more pushing out the last bit of breath. When you practice this breathing on a regular basis, you can build the capacity of your lungs tremendously making more room for oxygen to fill your lungs. We typically use a small portion of our lungs to breath, so my intentionally filling each corner of your lungs with air, you are stretching and building the health of your lungs.Boosts immune systemBy tilting your head back and forth during this exercise, you compress and extend many of the lymph nodes on your throat and the back of your neck.
Some believe this is a good way to boost your immune system and start moving the lymph around your body.How to do Pranayama BreathingFor those of you who are new to this breathing exercise, here are two great videos to show you how to do it properly.
Reply Lindsay Dahl October 31, 2014 at 11:41 am # This has been a big stress reliever for me too.
Reply karen October 31, 2014 at 11:36 am # Not all breathing is created equal but it is important to relax your muscles. As a result, I write about a variety of issues including: food, health, the environment, feminism, and stories about people being agents of change. May 11, 2016 My Favorite Oils for Face, Body, Hair and Diet April 9, 2016 Skip The Cold Towel At the End of Your Hot Yoga Class April 6, 2016 Is Collagen the Secret to Healthy Skin, Hair and Joints?
Tension headaches were the most common, but every few months throughout my 20’s I would get completely debilitating migraines that would last for days. Now I get mild headaches every once in a while, usually when my spine is out of alignment due to my scoliosis or from sitting at my computer for too long, but they are quickly relieved by an adjustment from chiropractor or doing a little yoga.Two weeks ago I woke up with an excruciating headache that was clearly a sign that something in my body was off.
At first I thought it was a side effect of a blood detox that I am doing, but when it persisted for several days despite all of my standard go-to home remedies (neti pot, various nasya (nose) oils, clove oil massage, Sombra; natural pain relieving gel, ginger tea, hot baths + steam, homeopathic headache formula, my TENS unit and my foam roller) I was a little perplexed. About a week into the headache that was primarily on the right side of my head and neck, I decided to do some alternate nostril breathing before my morning meditation session. This method of pranayama (conscious breathing) is known for balancing ida and pingala, the two main channels of energy that run through and around our spines, so I thought it may help a little with this one-sided headache.I was totally blown away that after about five minutes of this breathing exercise my stubborn headache was almost totally gone.
The following day my headache was totally gone, but the right side of my neck was still pretty stiff from being clenched up for so long. I got one round of acupuncture, during which I chanted a mantra “my neck is relaxed” and all symptoms, completely dissolved. You can bet I am adding this practice into my daily sadhana.Alternate Nostril Breathing is the best form of pranayama for reducing anxiety and alleviating insomnia.
Rest your left hand on your left thigh or knee, or make a circle with your thumb and index finger touching and extend your other three fingers straight.4. Fold the index and middle fingers on your right hand into your palm, leaving your other three fingers extended. Inhale through your left nostril, close your left nostril with your ring finger and hold your breath with both nostrils closed, then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril while keeping your left nostril closed. Repeat the process beginning on the other side, breathing first through your right nostril with your left nostril closed.7. In her quest for true and total health, she discovered Ayurveda and become so passionate about it that she became a certified Practitioner.
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