"Complete your practice one breath at a time!"
Walking into Kia Naddermier Mysore Yoga studio at 7:30 a.m in Paris I heard the unmistakable sound of the Ujjayi breath. The sound of so many yogis practicing together was strangely hypnotic. Ashtanga was the one thing we all had in common and the sound of the breath united us all irrespective of language or nationality.
This months blog introduces the Ujjayi Breath. It can be a little difficult to master this technique but with practice you will gain the proficiency to maintain a strong meditative flow throughout your whole practice.
Narrowing the throat by half-closing the epiglottis (the piece of cartilage at the top of your voice box) gives your breath a voice. Let that voice become your teacher. Listen to the tone of that voice as you inhale and exhale, and make that tone as even and smooth as you can, without any catches or wavering and without any change in pitch. Listening to the voice of ujjayi pranayama will give you greater sensitivity and control over the nuances of your breath.
At first, you may wonder exactly how to manipulate this epiglottal valve at the root of your throat.
Here are two methods which can help you learn this action.
1) Just sigh, and notice the slight constriction in your throat that occurs. That's the area you need to control when you are practicing ujjayi.
2) Open your mouth and inhale softly, noticing where the breath touches your throat. For most people, that will be deep down at the base and back of the throat. Again, that's the spot you need to constrict slightly to practice ujjayi. After you've zeroed in on this area, close your mouth and inhale, letting the breath touch your throat there. Once you can inhale in this way, practice exhaling with the same constriction of the epiglottis.”
You can practice this technique at any time through the day if you're feeling a little stressed. I recommend the INSIGHT TIMER for timing your inhales and exhales. This leads to a better understanding of how the breath can be utilised in your practice.