Ocean breath (ujjayi pranayama) is basically a beginner-level breath regulating technique.
It is a soft, whispering breath that creates a sound that helps in synchronising your yoga poses (asanas) with your breath. It is one of the most common forms of pranayama (breath control), which can be used during any yoga pose.
Ocean breath (ujjayi pranayama) can also be referred to as:
- Victorious breath
- Whispering breathing
- Snake breathing
- Snoring breathing.
In ujjayi pranayama, you have to constrict the back of your throat to support the lengthening of each breath cycle.
Each exhalation and inhalation needs to be full, deep, controlled and long. You can easily perform this breathing technique while sitting in a comfortable position with your legs crossed. Once you get to learn it, you can start using it during every yoga asana.
How to do ocean breath (ujjayi pranayama) in yoga? Correct form and technique
To do this yoga asana, follow the below-mentioned steps accurately.
- Sit up straight with your shoulder blades relaxed and away from your ears. Close your eyes.
- Start to inhale and exhale through your mouth. Make sure you don’t breathe from your nose.
- As you exhale, bring the awareness to your throat, and start to tone your glottis or soft palate (throat), while tightening your air passage. Just think of fogging up a glass. You should be hearing a soft whispering or hissing sound.
- Once you exhale, start to apply the same contraction of your throat to every inhalation. Once again, you’ll hear a soft whispering sound.
- As you control your throat during both exhalation and inhalation, close your mouth, and start breathing from your nose.
- Continue to apply the same tone to your throat as you did when your mouth was open. Your breath should make a hissing sound coming in and out of your nose.
Now that you know how to do the ocean breath, you can easily use this breathing technique during your yoga session.
If you need something to support you while holding a yoga pose, make sure to use the ujjayi pranayama, and apply it.
As you become familiar with its basics, practice it frequently to use it in your yoga asanas without pausing in between your sessions. You can also ask your yoga instructor to give you feedback on whether you are performing it correctly or need modifications.
Common mistakes to avoid
The most common mistake yoga practitioners make while doing the ocean breath is tightening their throats. Always remember that instead of tightening your throat, you only need to have a slight constriction.
Also, make sure you sit in a tall, upright position with your legs crossed nicely. Do not bend or move your neck while performing this breathing technique.
Potential benefits of ocean breath (ujjayi pranayama)
Ujjayi pranayama offers several health benefits, including:
- Improves your concentration level
- Improves life longevity, as it slows the pace of your breath
- Boosts immunity
- Regulate mental health and focus
- Refreshes and cleanses the nadis (energy channels of your body)
- Fills the mind and body with fresh life force
- Releases stress throughout the day
- Promotes cooling and heating of the body
- Helps improve voice
- Controls snoring and promotes sleep
- Rejuvenates and calms the nervous system
- Helps control heart-related illnesses and high blood pressure.
Various studies suggest that practicing the ujjayi breath has a great positive influence on the nervous and cardiorespiratory systems. It helps eliminate irritation and stress and also potentially calms the body and the mind.
Although the ocean breath is a safe and effective breathing exercise, if you have any type of breathing issues or health concerns such as asthma, this breathing pattern can be difficult for you.
To keep the exercise safe, ensure you are breathing correctly, and stop immediately if you feel lightheaded or dizzy. You shouldn’t feel any strain or pain while practicing the ujjayi pranayama.
The Ocean breath (ujjayi pranayama) is one of the most common and effective forms of breath practiced in yoga.
It is an excellent technique that mainly focuses on breathing through your nose and contracting your throat to create a sound similar to that of a snore.
When you feel stressed, the slow and relaxing breathing technique of the ujjayi breath can be really helpful in calming your nerves, body and mind.
Whenever you find yourself irritated, try to do the ujjayi breath for a few minutes, and notice how relaxing and soothing the entire process can be.