Ujjayi Breath, translated as ‘Victorious Breath’ holds many important keys for winning at living. Its commonly called “The ocean breath”, a metaphor that offers many insights into the How of it.
How you practise; Making wave likes sounds as you breath.
And how it can transform you into a winner…. read on.
By learning to ride the waves of your breath you gain greater control of the currents of life always moving within you. Making the breath audible, with your wave like sounds, provides an anchor you can use to fix your mind to it’s every ebb and flow. This tide of breathing carries you inwards, into yourself, into the moment where life is always fresh, here and now. This undertow can carry you deep into the the calm depths of your own centre and discover there the ocean of life itself.
While I lived in a meditation centre in NZ, I was disturbed from my deep inner state one practice by my teacher throwing tissues at me. He was trying to find a quiet way to let me know my Ujjayi breath was a little too loud. I hadn’t consciously decided to practise it, but in a room of others where fidgeters were a common distraction, I had adapted my breath to dominate my sound scape. The concept was sound but I could have used some expert advice in execution.
What I didn’t know, and am only just beginning to understand is regarding technique. The popular instruction of constricting the throat may not be the most useful on it’s own. I recently discovered and alternate instruction to lift the back of the palate making it high and spacious like yawning. This produces a sweeter softer sound that feels light and spacious, providing an inner lift to the subtle energies of the body with out creating as much tension. There is a line of fascial connections called the deep front line which includes the bodies myofascial core. giving a slight lift to the top of this line stimulates the whole system. Your Ujjayi will be more sustainable if it has this quality of lightness and spaciousness to it, and the sound will be inviting rather than disturbing.
What are the Benefits?
1. It’s both Refreshing and Relaxing. Oxygenating the body while slowing the breath down has the rule effect of calming and energising.
2. improves concentration. The sound of your breath helps to keep you in the moment and establish a smooth rhythm creating a meditative state for your practise
3. By creating a drag on the breath through the vocal chords you are providing resistance training for your breathing musculature. improving overall tone and performance of your breath capacity.
4. Adding lifting quality to your Ujjayi will invite energy to rise up the midline channel of the body from the lower to higher chakras.
The Crux of the Matter
The body without the Breath is not a living thing. You might think you are your body but what you are runs much deeper. One wave is not the ocean, the wave appears unsteady, the oceanic depths are calm very different. One breath is not a life but it is the way life rushes in to meet you. Picture the rise and fall of your diaphragm as the swelling and cresting of the undertow of the wave, inhaling your diaphragm pulls in and flattens, it swells, crests and begins all over again.
If you think you are the wave you remain on the ever changing unsteady surface of things, but if you let the wave carry you inwards you might discover there you are the ocean of life itself. When you know this, you know you are a living breathing miracle. When you know this you know you have already won, just by breathing.
It’s not too late to join in our Breathing term and learn all about yogic pranayama techniques and benefits.
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Don’t just take my work for it, listen to the ever articulate david garriuges on the subject: