The Ujjayi Breath, also known as Victorious or Ocean-Sounding breath, is a wonderfully relaxing breathing practice.
This breathwork is based on a steady inhalation and exhalation through the nose, with a mild constriction at the back of the throat.
The constriction creates an “ocean sound” that helps to focus the mind, and create a relaxation response in the body.
If you’re feeling anxious, nervous, or less than confident, or if you are dealing with medical issues, give this simple breathing technique a try. Practice upon waking, when lying in bed before sleeping, or anytime!
This breath is soothing and calming. There are no medical restrictions.
1. Hold one hand up in front of your face—palm turned toward your face—and imagine your palm is a mirror. Next, pretend you are fogging up the mirror with your breath. To do this, exhale with an ‘H’ sound. “Haaaaaa…” This is the ocean sound.
2. Drop the hand, and repeat.
*Notice that compared to a exhaling normally, adding the ‘H’ sound allows you to lengthen your exhalation.
Inhale normally, and repeat. As you empty the air completely, the naval draws back toward the spine. Exhaling fully in this way will allow you to deepen your next inhalation.
3. Inhale normally, and practice the exhalation again, this time with the lips closed. Continue making the ‘H’ sound in the back of your throat as you exhale, but exhale through the nose, with the lips lightly closed.
4. Now, make the same ‘H’ sound with your mouth open as you inhale. You’ll find this to be super uncomfortable! So just do it once or twice. Then, keeping that constriction in the back of the throat, that ‘H’ sound, inhale through the nose with the lips closed.
Once you follow these simple steps, that’s it! You no longer need the above info. You’re ready to engage the Ocean-Sounding breath. Ready to relax.
A few suggestions to support your new breathing practice:
Sit comfortably with a long spine, or lie down. Soften the jaw. Soften the brow.
Breathe slowly and deeply, in and out of the nose. Lips are together, teeth apart.
Begin to engage the Ujjayi breath by inhaling and exhaling through the nose, while gently constricting the back of the throat, using the ‘H’ or ocean sound. Keep the lips lightly closed.
Extend each exhalation, emptying completely.
Deepen each inhalation, filling the body fully.
As you inhale, you may want to imagine the breath moving into the body through the lower belly, or pelvic region, and continuing up the torso, expanding the rib cage all around the body, feeling the breath in the sides and back of the body, then moving higher, under collarbones and into the tops of the shoulders.
As you exhale, imagine this 3-part wave of breath washing down from collarbone region to the pelvis.
Inhale—3-part wave of breath washes onto the shore—
(Up the torso from pelvic region to collarbones, and/or tops of shoulders)
Exhale—empty completely (from collarbones to pelvis) feeling the naval draw back toward the spine as the 3-part wave of breath retreats from the shore, returns to the sea.
Besides being a published author and Songwriting instructor at Project Write Now in Red Bank, NJ, Mimi Cross is a 200+ hour certified Kripalu Yoga teacher. She has been teaching people of all ages Yoga and Meditation since 2001.