Ujjayi pranayama (breath technique) is used throughout any yoga asana (posture) practice. A soft sound is generated by a slight constriction in the back of the throat. Some people have compared it to the sound of the ocean, a forest wind, or for the Star Wars fans… Darth Vader breath :). The most important thing to learning this breathing technique is relaxation. The sound should be soothing and relaxing as you inhale and exhale.
The “HA” technique
- Inhale through the nose, then exhale through the mouth as though fogging up a mirror, making a “HA” sound. Familiarize yourself with the feeling in the back of your throat as you exhale.
- The next step is to close the mouth halfway through your exhales, allowing the breath to cyclone in the back of the throat and chest.
- Once you feel comfortable with the feeling of ujjayi, attempt to breathe only through the nostrils while still making the resonant sound in the body at the back of the throat and chest.
- Refinement of ujjayi comes when you begin to find more relaxation around the chest and rib cage. The sound becomes more consistent and relaxed as well. Work at visualizing the spine as a straw, “sipping” breath through the throat into the body, using the diaphragm as the active muscle of control.