top of page

Ujjayi pranayama: the breath to practice during the practice of the postures with force/endurance . 

(the "whys" and how it works) 

“Close your mouth, breathe through your nostrils - the air passes from the throat to the heart, creating noise. This is Ujjayi  », - says "Hatha Yoga Pradipika". 

Technically, we are doing a partial restriction of the glottis. The sound of inhalation and exhalation should be close to a whistle, and soft, something like the sound of the sea in a shell.


Ujjayi - is a safe and very useful technique, it provides several effects on the body:


1.  Ujjayi activates yoga practice

Concentration on the sound of the breath shifts the focus of sensations from external to internal. Andre Van Lisbeth in his book "Pranayama" notes that, in fact, ujjayi is a step towards meditation because "a deep concentration on the passage of air and on the sound produced distracts our attention from external problems. "And when the attention is inside - we do not waste energy, on the contrary: we maintain it there, and even accumulate it. 

The guardian of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga tradition, R. Sharath Jois in one of his lectures in 2012, says very simply and clearly: "Ujjayi activates the practice (of yoga).  »



2. Ujjayi  stretches the breath, calms and relieves stress

When compressing the glottis the vocal cords assume the same position as during whispering, and the brain perceives this process as the enunciation of sounds (conversation). The sound in our body is perceived by the temporal lobes, and when they are activated, they decrease the respiratory activity, and therefore cause a slowing down of the breath (by reflex).

3. Ujjayi  cleanses the body of toxins

John Scott in his book "  Ashtanga Yoga  »  explains that the  air friction  ”, passing through the glottis, warms the air before it reaches the lungs. For this reason, ujjayi generates heat and perspiration, with which toxins leave the body. Thereby,

the combination of asanas with ujjayi gives a powerful warming of the body, but the heart at the same time works in "  eco mode  - and this is another important effect of ujjayi.



4. Ujjayi  makes it easier to exercise during physical challenges  :

"Ujjayi strongly lowers the heart rate - about 10-20 beats. We tested: the first set of Ashtanga (Ashtanga yoga) without ujjayi - 150 beats/min, the same with ujjayi - no more than 130 beats/min This makes it easier to carry physical loads" - said the school teacher "  Agapkin Yoga Station  »  medical therapist, Sergei Agapkin (Rus.).

In addition to developing cardiac endurance, ujjayi improves gas exchange by increasing partial pressure in the lungs: oxygen passes more easily through the walls of the blood into the alveoli.



5. Ujjayi  leads  the heart :

Heart ripple effect only occurs when ujjayi is combined  with physical activity. When we breathe ujjayi, inhaling, our venous return  increases, and the heart beats faster, and when we exhale, the venous return slows down, and the heart

beats slower. This provides a training effect because we increase the working range of the heart muscle.
"In addition, during ujjayi breathing the blood supply to the heart changes, the heart works in a mode of intermittent hypoxia: if it beats less - it receives less oxygen, and if it beats often - it is again saturated with oxygen. For the heart it is very useful "- says Sergey Agapkin.


6. Ujjayi  leads  respiratory muscles:

Resistance to airflow through a narrowing of the glottis causes the

respiratory muscles to work with the increased load and by this contributes to them

strengthen, says the president of the Yoga-Therapeutic Society of St. Petersburg, cardiologist doctor, Artem Frolov.  



7. Ujjayi  improved  bronchial permeability:

The most important effect of ujjayi breathing - is the improvement of the condition of lungs and

expectoration (evacuation of mucus). Obstruction of the glottis allows internal tension  to stretch the bronchi, which makes them more passable (improves passage through the bronchi).
Thus, ujjayi is especially useful for people

who tend to bronchial obstruction (narrowing of the bronchi in some

places), and this applies to almost everyone who has ever smoked.



8. Ujjayi increases  venous return:

Ujjayi - this is very effective breathing in the case of varicose veins, as it improves venous return.

The most important mechanism of venous return - it is the suction effect of the rib cage during inspiration. During inspiration, combined with ujjayi, the pressure in the rib cage decreases more, than during a classic inhalation, offering

strengthening venous return. The blood "  rushes  to leave the area of higher pressure to the area of lower pressure (towards the lungs), and therefore the venous return increases.
Thus, each breath constricts venous blood to the heart, literally "sucks in"

venous blood, which increases the filling of the heart before its subsequent reduction (contraction).



9. Ujjayi  encourages the gentle practice of yoga:

"If you breathe correctly, you will be able to practice for hours," - said R. Sharath Jois.
Petri Ryaysyanen talks about the effects of ujjayi in the book “
  Ashtanga yoga,” he notes that deep, calm breathing helps to gently enter an asana, building it well, as well as relieving tension from muscles and tendons.
Tense, rapid breathing shows loss of energy and thoughts
  wandering  ". 

In one of his lectures in Mysore, Sharath Jois said:  shallow breathing means that we are not present in the asanas, our mind is wandering elsewhere. This can lead to muscle soreness and injury. "  



10. Ujjayi  learn to control the breath:

By listening to our breath, we learn to follow and maintain the flatness (continuity) of in-breath and out-breath, engaging the mind in an almost meditative process. 

By controlling the breath, we essentially still the mind. And this is the most important effect of yoga. "  True knowledge can come to us only when the mind is steady," -

(the guardian of the Ashtanga Vinyasa tradition, Sharath Jois).

Download this article? 

bottom of page