BY: ERIK HUSTON
The rise in the yoga pants industry signifies that yoga is becoming much more common these days. Like most millennials who are drawn to bettering themselves, I had to check out this ancient spirituality-exercise hybrid.
I started my journey by becoming a member of my local yoga studio and exploring their schedule. The options were endless and overwhelming. Flow, Chakra Flow, Candlelit Flow – Why so many flows? I ended up choosing one that really stood off the page – Ashtanga.
I went in thinking this was just an average yoga class. I laid my mat on the floor and rested in the beginning meditation called “corpse pose.” The class started and the teacher began chanting in a foreign language, which I thought was very odd. Between the oms and the chanting I was worried that I accidentally enrolled in a crazy advanced class, complete with headstands and pretzel poses. A few people left the class once the chanting began, but I decided to stick with it. I ended up loving the whole experience, and learnt something that I apply to my life almost every day. It’s called the “Ujjayi Breath” in ancient Sanskrit, also known as the “Victorious Breath.”
This breathing technique does a lot for me. Whenever I’m stressed it calms me down. When I’m cold it warms me up. The mystery behind the breath is in the ancient philosophy behind it. According to ashtangayoga, Prana is the key to the breath’s power. “Yogis are convinced that everything is prana (energy). The breath links the physical and energetic universe.” In fact “it is said that Yogis can melt snow by using Ujjayi breathing.” In short, the force behind the Ujjayi breath, once mastered, is incredible.
This breathing technique does a lot for me. Whenever I’m stressed it calms me down. When I’m cold it warms me up. The mystery behind the breath is in the ancient philosophy behind it.
Here is how you do it:
1. Sit with an erect spine and take three long breaths. Breathe in and out of the nose, making sure you inhale just as long as you exhale.
2. Now constrict your throat muscles just a bit and make a silent “HAAAA” sound, while keeping your mouth closed as you inhale through your nose.
3. Exhale doing the same thing for the same length of time as your inhale.
If you are doing it right you will sound like Darth Vader from Star Wars. My yoga teacher said that the “Victorious Breath” provides internal heat to the body. If you combine this with the external heat of a hot yoga class then according to her you will have one of the best detoxes available.
According to ashtangayoga, the breathing technique is especially useful for people who suffer from chronic obstructive lung conditions or asthma. “Ujjayi pranayama is also a very valuable technique from a physiological point of view. Breathing through the nose humidifies the inhaled air, tempers it and removes dust particles. Using Ujjayi pranayama allows you to breathe clean air. The murmuring Ujjayi sound causes the bronchi to vibrate subtly, activating the ciliated epithelium. Dust particles will also be removed from the lungs in this way. During normal breathing, the pressure on the bronchi during exhalation is quite modest. Ujjayi pranayama maintains steady pressure inside the bronchi, even during exhalation. This counteracts the collapsing of the smaller bronchi, allowing the exhalation to be expanded and the amount of residual air in the lungs to be reduced.
The “Victorious Breath” provides internal heat to the body.
According to yoga philosophy, this breath also balances and soothes the emotions as well as providing physical stamina. We live in a world of constant stressors and most of us are willing to jump on any opportunity that will improve our ability to handle stress. In today’s world our ability to handle stress is directly correlated with our success in life. Ujjayi is a great way to increase this vital skill. You don’t need to be in a yoga class to practice this breath either. Whether you’re in traffic or waiting for the bus the “Victorious Breath” will bring you the power for success.