This breathing technique used in a number of Hindu and Taoist Yoga forms is sometimes also referred to as Ocean Breath. Ujjayi Pranayama is a diaphragmatic breathing exercise by virtue of which air first fills up the lower belly, then gradually moves up to the upper rib cage and then upwards to reach the throat and chest area.
To perform sit comfortably in the Padmasana or Sukhasana pose. Take deep breaths with both the nostrils and contract your throat to make the breath long and thin. The tight passage of air in the throat should be felt when the throat is contracted and an oceanic sound is produced because of it. After this breathing process is completed touch the upper chest with your chin (Jalandhar Bandha) and hold your breath for up to 10 seconds (Kumbaka). Then exhale slowly through the left nostril by closing the right one with your thumb. The most important point to remember in Ujjayi Pranayama is that when breathing through the nostril one should make sure that he does not breathe through the throat simultaneously.
For beginner thrice a day is enough however, as you progress the number can go up to 11 times a day maximum. When you start, you can exhale with both your nostrils. The jalandar bandha and Kumbaka should only be practiced once you have managed the basic breathing exercise. This Pranayama should ideally be practiced under the supervision of an instructor.
Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama
Ujjayi Pranayama stretches our breath and heats it up before it enters the body. Due to the heat generated, the body warms up as well and this internal heat unlocks a powerful healing process in our body. This Pranayam has proved to be beneficial for a multiple no of ailments. It is known to cure thyroid problems, throat infections and also benefits patients with asthma, tonsillitis, snoring problems etc.
While the duration of a single breath may vary from person to person, one should not be too hasty in trying to stretch the duration. The basic premise of Yoga is that it should be performed with any pressures and there should not be unnecessary demands made on the body. Beginners should just focus on getting the technique right, the prolonged duration of a single breath will come with time and practice.