Monday, June 16, 2008

Ujjayi - Yoga Breathing

Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jI-ee) breath is frequently misunderstood. Several years back, I had a teacher that encouraged us to breath very loudly--"the louder you breathe, the more I know you are paying attention to your breath." He viewed it as an "advanced" yogic state.

Then there are others, like a local energy worker that says, "Pranayama [using the breath to extend life force] should feel as graceful and silky smooth as a ballet dancer."

Further still, I had a meditation student that absolutely loved Ujjayi breathing. She took the practice home with her and returned a couple of weeks later to say that her heart rate actually increased during the practice and was wondering why. I watched and listened to her Ujjayi and it was not a toning in the glottis (in the throat area), but rather a tight constriction.

Ujjayi breathing, meaning victorious uprising, is NOT about constricting to the point of raising the heart rate and blood pressure. Quite the opposite. It is a method to automatically slow and steady the breath. It also greatly enhances awareness of the quality of your breath--and thus your energy and mind. As you steady your breathing and motion, the thoughts in the mind follow suit. This is one of the wonderful benefits to practicing pranayama; Ujjayi being one of the many pranayama techniques available and a foundation for many of the more advanced life enhancing exercises.

If you'd like to grasp the details of Ujjayi check out this amazing article by Doug Keller. He explains and understand the true art of this wondrous practice more than any other teacher that I've run across.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

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