Ujjayi Pranayama: Victory Breath
Ujjayi pranayama (victory breath) adds a slight constriction in the throat to a basic diaphragmatic breathing pattern, and thus engages and directs the flow of udana, the upward flowing pranic force.
Gently constrict the aperture of the throat to create a subtle hissing sound.
To practice ujjayi breath, sit in a comfortable posture with a neutral spine. Gently constrict the aperture of the throat to create a subtle hissing sound; this action is similar to saying “aah” without vocalizing and then closing your mouth. Keep the throat constricted on both the inhalation and the exhalation and draw the breath in and out from the diaphragm, not from the chest. Make both parts of the breath equally long and smooth, and make sure there’s no pause in between.
Your conscious awareness of this flow in the sushumna nadi will help activate udana.
Ujjayi breath will become slower and more drawn out; soothe your mind by focusing your attention on its sound. Let your attention draw deeper than the surface of the throat: exhale as you move your awareness from your eyebrow center to the navel center; inhale and draw your awareness from the navel center to the eyebrow center. Your conscious awareness of this flow in the sushumna nadi will help activate udana and collect the dormant and scattered pranic force throughout the body and mind.
Practice to your comfortable capacity, then relax the throat, rest your attention at the eyebrow center, and sit quietly enjoying the subtle flow of the breath. You may bring a mantra to your awareness and allow it to resonate in this space, or feel the light and energy from the eyebrow center expanding to fill the whole mind and body.
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For over 20 years Sandra Anderson has shared her extensive experience in yoga theory and practice with students from all over the world. A senior faculty member and resident at the Himalayan Institute, her teaching reflects access to the living oral tradition, and the embodied experience of 30 years of dedicated practice. With a background in the natural sciences and interest in classical Sanskrit, along with frequent pilgrimages to India, Sandy has a rare capacity to eloquently convey the... Read more>>