Breathing Exercise (Pranayama) - Ujjayi (Loud Breathing)
Breathing is life. It is one of our most vital functions. One of the Five Principles of Yoga is Pranayama or Breathing Exercise which promotes proper breathing. Proper Breathing, in a Yogic point of view, is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control prana or the vital life energy. Pranayama - the science of breath control; consists a series of exercises intended to meet these needs and to keep the body in vibrant Health.
Benefits of Ujjayi
Ujjayi strengthens the Nervous and digestive systems and gets rid of the phlegm. According to the Ancient Yogic Text, diseases are caused by an excess of either phlegm, wind or bile.
The Practice of Ujjayi (Loud Breathing)
Ujjayi This consists in drawing air in through both nostrils with the glottis held partially closed. Ujjayi translates as "what clears the throat and masters the chest area." This partial closure of the glottis produces a sound like that heard in sobbing, except that it is continuous and unbroken. The sound should have a low but uniform pitch and be pleasant to hear. Friction of air in the nose should be avoided; consequently no nasal sounds will be heard. A prolonged full pause should begin, without any jerking, as soon as Inhalation has been completed. Closure of glottis, use of chin lock and closure of both nostrils are standard. Prolong the pause as long as possible; but it should be terminated and exhalation commenced smoothly and slowly. When properly performed, exhalation proceeds slowly and steadily through the left nostril with the glottis partially closed as in inhalation. One may begin to exhale with release of air pressure by lifting the finger from his left nostril, loosening his chin lock and then partially opening his glottis. Exhalation should be complete.
Variations of Ujjayi Breathing
Ujjayi Breathing has many variations. For example, we can breathe in through the throat, then completely close one nostril and breathe out through the other nostril, which is only partly closed. This technique is called an Anuloma Ujjayi. In a Pranayama technique called Viloma ujjayi, we breathe in through the nostril and breathe out through the throat. These techniques are used to lengthen the inhalation and adapt techniques of the Anuloma Viloma Breathing Technique. In Ujjayi Pranayama, it is important to follow this rule: "When we regulate the breath through the nostril, we never breathe through the throat at the same time".
Although the total length of time required for a single Cycle of Breathing will vary with different persons, certain ratios of the periods needed for inhaling, pausing and exhaling are recommended. The period occupied by exhaling should be about twice as long as that occupied by inhaling. Practice inhaling and exhaling without a full pause. Then, when you feel ready, hold your breathing for a pause which is comfortable. With continued practice, this pause can be extended to a duration which is double that of the inhalation or equal to that of the exhalation. Advanced practitioners of Yoga hold their pauses to four times the duration of inhalation and double the duration of exhalation.