Yoga Breath - Why It Is So Important (...And How To Do It)

Amy Lynn Grover
Yoga Breath - Why It Is So Important (...And How To Do It)
Yoga for Life - A weekly column by Amy Lynn Grover

The yoga breath - In my opinion breathing is the most important part of a physical yoga practice. From my teaching experience as well as taking notice while in class, it seems to be the most difficult part for people to get and to understand or stick with throughout the practice. Here are three very important effects of the yoga breath also know as Ujjayi on your personal yoga practice.

Internal Heat

When only breathing through the nose, your breath is warmed, which warms the lungs and blood while creating a furnace like effect that warms the entire body.

Focus

The sound and sensation of the Ujjayi helps in maintaining awareness of the breath flowing with steadiness, ease and balance throughout your asanas and sequences.

Calming

The rhythmic sound of the Ujjayi helps you to calm your nerves and creates a quieter internal practice.

When you start a yoga session, tune into your concentrated Ujjayi breath to calm and centre yourself and prepare for the practice ahead of you. From there use this breath as your fuel to drive you through your practice. It will energize you and allow you to persevere through the most challenging poses.

How To Do The Yoga Breath

When the practice becomes more rigorous, consistent breathing becomes challenging to maintain. The natural tendency when things get tough or uncomfortable is to hold the breath periodically and breaths become shallow pants, gasps or wheezes. When the quality of the breath is compromised, it’s a sign to back off and rest in a child’s pose or corpse pose until your breath can resume to even Ujjayi breathing. Here is how to do it:

The breath sounds similar to the ocean waves coming and going. It’s also been referred to as The “Darth Vadar” breath. There is a slight restriction in the throat that gives it this sound...

  1. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale deeply through your mouth (as if you were fogging up a mirror). Try this a few times...
  2. Next, close the mouth and begin breathing only through the nose. Apply a restriction on the back of the throat on both the inhale and exhale.

This is the Ujjayi breath.

Keep practicing, it will eventually become comfortable and second nature to use in your practice when you get good at it.

Source: Teaching Yoga Essential Foundations and Techniques, Mark Stephens