Benefits and Uses
Ujjayi (oo-jy-ee) breath is commonly used throughout yoga classes and practices. In a regular (non-prenatal yoga) class, it is used to calm the body and mind, heat the body internally to permit fluid movement and stretching, as well as provide a meditational focal point during the practice for you and those around you. Ujjayi breath in a prenatal yoga practice shares these same benefits, as well as perhaps the most important benefit: providing breath awareness and practice in preparation for delivery. Learning a few breathing techniques during pregnancy can give you the confidence and peace of mind to approach delivery with ease.
Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair, with your spine straight and tall. Place your hand in front of your mouth (but not touching it) and take a deep breath in through your nose. On your exhale, open your mouth and expel the air with a “haaaaahhh” sound as though you are fogging a mirror. This sound, created by the slight restriction in the back of your throat at the glottis, is the ocean sound that you will make during ujjayi breath. Now, inhale again through your nose, and on the exhale close your mouth and exhale through your nose, trying to create the same sound by the slight constriction in the back of your throat. Now try and create the same sound on your inhalation (this is usually difficult at first and may take practice).
The combination of the long and even ocean sounding inhalations and exhalations through nose is ujjayi breath. Try it now for five minutes or so with your eyes closed. Try to make length of the inhalations and exhalations evenly paced by counting to a set number on each (you can always make the length shorter or longer). Practice as much as needed. With time it will become more natural and effortless, and should make you feel relaxed and at ease.
- Modifications: Ujjayi breath is safe for everyone and there are no contraindications. If you are suffering from a sinus infection, cold, allergies, or any difficulty breathing from the nose, however, ujjayi breath might be uncomfortable. If this is the case please wait until you can breathe freely through your nose.
Some people might find that they become a bit lightheaded during ujjayi breath. This is probably due to the increase of oxygen, which you may not be used to, and is perfectly normal.
- Release: Once you have completed five minutes or so, return to a normal breath. Observe any changes that may have occurred in your body and/or mind.