(Last Updated on : 23/02/2010)
Amongst the wide varieties of Pranayama that are popular through out India, Ujjayi pranayama is indeed an important one. The prefix 'ud' means expanding or upward whilst the suffix 'Jaya' stands for victory or success. It also means restraint or curbing. Quite ideally therefore, "In Ujjayi Pranayama, the lungs of the practitioner are fully expanded as that of a mighty conqueror". In the ashtanga yoga Ujjayi pranayama is mentioned as an archetypal kind of yoga which controls the vital airs (prana). There are about 70 types of pranayama mentioned in the traditional texts.
There are diverse opinions regarding the origination of the name Ujjayi. According to one school of thought, in ancient India, while sharing greetings people pronounced loudly the word, "Ujjayi". Hence it can be said that the word Jaya and the 'cognate words' are always pronounced loudly. Thus there is no denying of the fact that loud pronunciation is one of the main characteristic of Ujjayi. This loudness is also prevalent in the technique employed in Ujjayi pranayama asana, especially during the partial blockage of the 'glottis'.
In the old Hatha Yoga text, a reference of the Ujjayi Pranayama can be found. In the performing technique of Ujjayi, 'Kumbaka' is considered as a necessary yoga prior performing the Ujjayi Pranayama. Authentically , the Pooraka, Kumbaka and Rechaka needs to be executed before performing the Ujjayi pranayama. These are nothing but extremely controlled breathing technique, using both nostrils in various permutations and combinations.
Techniques Of Ujjayi
: The distinct pranayamic exercise aids in stretching the breath whilst warming it, prior letting it to enter the lungs and therefore supports in heating the body. Three techniques like Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka complete the whole process of Ujjayi while making it a unique and healthy pranayamic exercise.
: The process of single inhalation has been termed as Puraka. In Ujjayi, Puraka is therefore the act of the inhalation process, which is carried on a regular and in a simultaneous basis.
: In Pranayama, Kumbhaka stand as a particular breathing technique. The apt process of the suspension and the retention of breath is the key factor of Kumbhaka that has been categorized into two broad categories as Antara Kumbhaka and the Bhaya Kumbhaka.
: An important technique of Pranayama, Recaka, deals with the relaxation of the chest. Rechaka in brief refers to a typical form of pranayama in which the exhalation is lengthened.
Steps for Ujjayi Pranayama :
1. One need to Sit erect in any comfortable posture while keeping the spine straight.
2. Inhaling slowly while drawing the air by both the nostrils is the second step. Inhaling should be done in such a way that while inhaling the touch of air is experienced in the throat and some sound is produced.
3. During inhalation the abdomen should not bulge out and the chest need to be expanded.
4. After completing inhalation, slow exhalation is to be done. During exhalation chest should go inside and abdomen should remain steady.
Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama
The benefits of Ujjayi pranayama are immense. This type of Pranayama creates positive and negative air pressures in the lungs and also in the stomach cavity. Ujjayi pranayama also causes good effects on the internal organs.
Precautions during Ujjayi Pranayama
While practicing the Ujjayi pranayama it is indeed necessary to follow some precaution. While doing Ujjayi pranayama air should touch the throat. It is also advisable to not let abdomen to bulge out. After practicing it for few days and after knowing one's limitations, the ratio between inhalation and exhalation should be kept as 1 : 2.