breathe yoga


By Melody Lima


When I become overwhelmed with tasks, expectations and responsibilities I turn to my pranayama or breathing practice.

Pranayama encourages me to be motivated and creates a sensation of calm victory to face challenges head on.

Ujjayi pranayama is breathing in and out through the nose while constricting the back of the throat. This creates a sound similar to the sound of ocean waves. With a smooth, focused, slow and gentle approach to inhalation and a steady, unwavering exhalation, Ujjayi can be both energizing and relaxing from the challenges of everyday life.

Translated as victorious, Ujjayi, is both dirga (long) and suksma (smooth) as Patanjali suggests in the Yoga Sutras. The push and pull of the breath against resistance creates a calming and soothing pranayama practice. Ujjayi pranayama lengthens the breath with a small effort producing relaxation.

“As the fire blazes brightly when the covering of ash over it is scattered by the wind, the divine fire within the body shines in all its majesty when the ashes of desire are scattered by the practice of pranayama.”
~Geeta Iyengar

Ujjayi pranayama can be practiced in a seated position or within the practice of asana postures. As the practitioner maintains both length and smoothness of the breath, a baseline of Ujjayi breathing is established to grow within the asana practice.

In a pose that is not too strenuous like Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), strive to maintain that quality of breath throughout the practice could experience maximum benefits.

As our busy lives unfold and expectations rise, take a moment or two and simply breathe.


Photo: laurenklein/tumblr

Editor: Dana Gornall