"Breathe or you will die". Obviously the breath is important. On a day to day basis our autonomic nervous system controls our breath. That is, we breathe automatically. In yoga we ask you begin to pay attention to your breath. By bringing awareness to your breath you begin to connect the body and the mind.
In yoga, one of the types of breath is called Ujjayi (pronounced ooo jai yay). It is done with a pose (asana) in Vinyasa yoga to link the breath with movement. When done properly, Ujjayi (translated as “victorious”) breathing should be both energizing and relaxing. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both dirga (long) and suksma(smooth). The sound of Ujjayi is created by gently constricting the opening of the throat (the glottis muscles) to create some resistance to the passage of air. Gently pulling the breath in through the nose on inhalation and gently pushing the breath out through the nose on exhalation against this resistance creates a well-modulated and soothing sound—something like the sound of ocean waves rolling in and out.
To begin with imagine you're trying to blow fog on a mirror. Then practice this same technique except with your mouth closed and breathe in and out slowly through your nose. It's not an over breath. It can take time to master the ujjayi breath, so be patient. In class I often remind yogis to find their breath, it's amazing how quickly we lose our focus and allow our minds to wander.
Why else do we suggest this breath?
It improves concentration.
It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (the one that calms you).
The air passing through the nose allows you to create internal heat, like an internal massage.
It helps release tension
Want to learn more? Come along to a class at Ebb and Flow Wellness studio.