When I went for my yoga teacher certification at Aumtar Tantra Hatha and Vinyasa in Cancun this year, I did not know how much I would be using Ujjayi or ‘Darth Vader’ breath. It’s a breathing technique taught while holding yoga poses and during meditations. And to my surprise, I was using Ujayii breath when I wanted to pause and relax during the day! Some say it “sounds like the ocean” which is somewhat true as you just breathe in and out the nose in the throat area.
We were shown in the Vinyasa yoga class to pull in our tummies lightly and then send breath higher up to the chest area using Ujayii breath. This slight pelvic contraction is called “Mulabanda.” The instructor explained the Mulabana helps close the lower ‘pleasure or fear/survival’ areas of the body and while the breath lifts up the energy to the divine higher level parts from the navel to the top of the head and beyond.
With Ujjayi breath you breathe in and out of the nose with the lips sealed - no breath passes the lips. This also serves to build heat in the body. The lips gently close and although the breath is passing through the nostrils the emphasis is in your throat. It sounds like an ocean or “Darth Vader”.
When to use Ujjayi breath
Use Ujjayi breath to calm down. By focusing on your breath. It enhances your relaxation response and allows the body to bring in more oxygen. It thus slows down the parasympathetic nervous system. With controlled and conscious breathing, you connect to your essence and bring yourself to the present moment.
You can practice Ujjayi breath any time you wish. If you are on your yoga mat, acknowledge that the breath creates heat in the body.
Not only does Ujjayi hold a mirror up to your existing unconscious habits but it soon becomes a new habit, one that can soothe, lull and seduce your body and mind into a state of increased and progressive ease. You can with an emotion, feel the heat yet feel radically calm and undisturbed.
Whether or not your using Ujayii Breath with your meditation and yoga practice, deep breaths can help calm and center you anytime. To peace…