What the Ujjayi? | Yoga


Ujjayi Pranayama, the victorious breath, is that audible breathe heard in yoga class that is often compared to the sound of the ocean. The lungs are fully expanded and the chest is puffed out like that of a victorious conqueror. The sound of Ujjayi pranayama serves two purposes: One, it stimulates the nadis, or energy channels, in the sinuses and at the back of the throat, which, in turn, promotes mental clarity and focus. And two, it provides a sound to focus on, so that the mind can become more still.

How to Ujjayi:

Inhale through your nose, then exhale slowly through a wide-open mouth. Direct the out-going breath slowly across the back of your throat with a drawn-out HAAAAAA sound. Repeat several times, then close your mouth. Now, as you both inhale and exhale through your nose, direct the breath again slowly across the back of your throat. This will, hopefully, create a soft hissing sound.

This sound helps to slow the breath down (which is exactly what we want for Ujjayi), to focus awareness on the breath, prevent your mind from wandering and to regulate the breath by continually monitoring and adjusting the evenness of the sound.

Eight addtionals benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama:

1. Improves concentration in the physical practice. Becoming absorbed in Ujjayi allows you to remain in poses for longer periods of time.

2. Lends a meditative quality that maintains the rhythm of the class.

3. Diminishes distractions and allows you to remain focused and present.

4. Regulates heating of the body.

5. Can release tension and tight areas of the body.

6. Tells us when we need to rest. It allows us to practice honesty in our practice, taking a step back to let go of our ego.

7. Allows us to practice full deep breaths during the challenges of a physical practice teaching us that we can stay just as equanimous when faced with the challenges of our daily lives.

8. Additional benefits include diminished pain from headaches, relief of sinus pressure, decrease in phlegm, and strengthening of the nervous and digestive systems.

Sachi Doctor

Elemental Alchemy, 90 Rio Vista Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94611

Sachi Doctor is an Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health coach who founded Elemental Alchemy with the mission to provide a resource for those navigating their way towards optimal mind-body health.

Diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at a young age, Sachi has spent over twenty years exploring different health modalities, treatment plans, diets and mindfulness practices to help alleviate chronic pain and restore balance.

After years of looking to others for a model of health with no relief, Sachi realized that the answers she sought were not hidden in someone else’s prescription for wellness but unique to her, and that the first step towards discovery was actually tuning out what was right for others and tuning into herself.

As she tapped into the wisdom of her own body, she discovered that the elements foundational for health  — the blueprint she so fervently sought — was within her, within each of us. Since then Sachi has been passionate about helping others also cultivate clarity and inner wisdom for vibrant health.

In addition to her Ayurvedic and nutrition education, Sachi has completed over 800 hours of yoga teacher training and continues to study with her mother, her first yoga teacher, for whom these practices are a way of life.

Sachi is a board member of the Prison Yoga Project at San Quentin State Prison and serves as an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit that raises funds within the US yoga community to support microcredit programs for women in India. She holds a Msc in Development from the London School of Economics.