Prana means breath and Ayama means expansion. Pranayama’s exact translation therefore, is the extension of breath and its control. In other words, Pranayama is the science of breath and it’s a key part of practicing yoga. According to B.K.S. Iyengar, “The yogi’s life is not measured by the number of his days but by the number of his breaths”.
Pranayama promotes the free flow of prana through the body and creates a greater sense of self-awareness. Among its other benefits are the following:
- Calms the mind and body
- Balances the cardiovascular and respiratory systems
- Stabilizes blood pressure
- Oxygenates the blood
- Releases tension
- Helps free pent-up emotions
- Eases insomnia
These regulated and controlled breathing patterns practiced in yoga strengthen the respiratory system, sooth the nervous system and reduce craving. There are various types of pranayama breathing as per ancient scriptures including: Suryabhedhana, Ujjayi, Sitkari, Sitali, Bhastrika, Bhramari, Murccha’ and Plavini.
Ujjayi breathing has been part of yoga practice for thousands of years. Ujjayi breath helps synchronize the movements in a rhythmic manner throughout the yoga practice. Ujjayi is a Sanskrit word that translates as “victorious.” It is also sometimes called “oceanic breath.”
To practice ujjayi breathing, the inhalation and exhalation are expressed through the nose. The inhale is slightly longer than normal and smooth. The exhale is slow with the muscles at the back of the throat constricting, creating a sound like ocean waves. Based on my experience, incorporating Ujjayi breath in your yoga routine will improve your practice significantly. Give it a Try!