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Ujjayi Pranayama: Benefits, Limitations and How To Practice It

Ujjayi Pranayama Benefits

Ujjayi Pranayama infuses positive healing energy into our bodies to declutter and de-stress the mind.

As the pandemic is taking waves and turns, mental and physical well-being has gained more significance in our lives.

Many of us practically face difficulties in maintaining self-care and over-all well being amid the potential impact of lockdowns and the work-from home normal. 

Practicing mediation or adopting meditative practices is one easy way to maintain self-care. A daily asana or a consistent pranayama exercise can change your life in many ways. 

The ‘Ujjayi Pranayama’ is one such breathing exercise that reduces your mental anxiety, relieves stress, promotes mental clarity and strengthens your immune system, all that’s needed to build physical and mental endurance! 

Here is everything you need to know about this breathing exercise:

What is Ujjayi Pranayama? 

What is Ujjayi Pranayama

According to a study conducted by the Central Michigan University, Ujjayi Pranayama focuses on breathing patterns to calm the mind and enhance concentration levels.

This essentially helps you to override your thoughts that may distract you from staying in a meditative state. Often associated as an exercise that gives you freedom from bondage, this exercise is a part of eight Kumbakhas of Hathayoga

Ujjayi’ comes from the Sanskrit prefix ‘ud’ which means root, and ‘jayi’ which means victorious. It suggests a sense of power and upliftment in physical and mental well-being. 

The reason it is called the victorious breath is the expansion in chest and the belly during the breathing which is reminiscent of a victorious warrior. It can also mean ‘to gain mastery’ at a deeper spiritual level. 

Ujjayi is also called as the ‘ocean breath’ as the movement of air in the throat (glottis) resembles the sounds of ocean waves. It is also called as whispering breathing, snake breathing, and victorious breath. 

Recommended Story – Bhramari Pranayama – Yoga for Mental Detox

How To Practice Ujjayi Pranayama:

How To Practice Ujjayi Pranayama

There are multiple ways to generate Ujjayi – essentially a balance of mind and soul through breathing. The following steps illustrate one of the best known practices of this pranayama. 

  • Sit comfortably in sukhasana or padmasana. 
  • You can also sit in a chair comfortably with your spine erect
  • Keep your eyes closed and clear your throat
  • Inhale slowly through your nostrils until you sense the fullness in your chest. 
  • Retain the inhaled breath for a few seconds
  • Open your mouth and exhale slowly and rhythmically 
  • Allow the air to pass through your constrained throat, by creating a ‘friction sound.’
  • Make sure that inhalations and exhalations are balanced and avoid any jerky or hasty movements.
  • This is one cycle
  • Continue the same practice for at least 3-4 minutes. 

Things To Remeber While Practicing Ujjayi Pranayama:

Things To Remeber While Practicing Ujjayi Pranayama
  • Make sure to take fuller, deeper breaths. Balance every breath and enjoy the quality that it brings to your practice
  • The steadiness, sound, and depth of the Ujjayi is the most important attribute of this pranayama. It helps you synchronise your mind and body. This unification adds richness and depth and cultivates awareness. 
  • To improve stability over time, becoming absorbed in Ujjayi is important for the practitioner. Hence, to remain in the pose he/she chooses for a longer period of time is essential. 
  • Maintaining rhythm is crucial to increase meditative quality and instill endurance in the long term. 
  • Remaining grounded in the practice over time diminishes all kinds of distractions and makes sure the practitioner is self-aware. 
  • The practitioner prepares the body for building internal heat only with rhythmic breathing. The heat cleanses inner organs and eliminates any accumulated toxins. 

Potential Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama:

Potential Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama

According to the National Center of Health, Physical Activity, and Disability,  Ujjayi breathing broadly helps you in three main ways:

  • Improves focus and concentration levels
  • Releases and reduces tension throughout the body and builds a strong immune system
  • Regulates heating and cooling mechanisms within the body

Apart from these benefits, studies have shown that this exercise helps you battle extreme and chronic levels of anxiety and depression. A 2010 study revealed that the exercise has helped cancer patients avoid panic and sleep disturbances, so they can concentrate on the treatment. 

Besides these, here is a list of benefits you can incur from this pranayama exercise:

  • Helps rectify fluid retention in the body
  • Clears phlegm and increases appetite 
  • Beneficial for chronic cold, cough, fever and other normal problems 
  • Helps insomnia and sleeplessness and enhances quality of sleep 
  • Stimulates and balances thyroid
  • Cleanses and refreshes naadis that are subtle energy channels of the body
  • Soothes nervous system and enhances immune function 
  • Slows breathing to increases longevity of life 

Limitations of Ujjayi Pranayama:

Limitations of Ujjayi Pranayama
  • Patients with high blood pressure, cardiac issues, intensive migraine must practice under the guidance of a yoga teacher
  • Pregnant women have to consult their gynecologist and make sure that there is no pressure on the abdominal organs
  • Beginners should not practice this exercise for more than 5 minutes a day

Practicing this pranayama on a daily basis brings relief from negative energies that have been preventing you from achieving the best in terms of health.

Incorporate Ujjayi Pranayama in your daily Yogic practice to stay calm and keep away from the daily stressors!

Also Read – Sheetkari Pranayama: The Pranayama For Calmness and Peace

Written by Dhruv Srivastava

Dhruv is currently an IB high school student. He loves to write and talk about world history and global politics. With an interest in cricket and books, he loves the outdoors but doesn’t mind reading for hours on end. He is also a competitive speedcuber and a member of the World Cube Association (solves the 3x3 Rubik's Cube in less than 12 seconds). Dhruv lives in Mumbai, and loves travelling and learning more about the different people and cultures in the world.

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  1. Benefits of Ujjayi Breath: Ujjayi breath, a fundamental yoga technique, offers numerous benefits. This controlled, audible breath calms the mind, enhances focus, and regulates the nervous system. It increases oxygen intake, improving endurance and detoxification.

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