This breathing technique can help steady a wandering mind while fully aerating the lungs. It can soothe the nervous system, alleviate exhaustion, and leave you feeling replenished. Inhale slowly, quietly, deeply, and steadily, keeping your mind quiet as you fill the lower, middle, and upper part of the lungs sequentially. Enjoy the natural pause for a second or two after the inhale and exhale and pay special attention that the brain doesn’t tense especially at the top of the inhale. As you exhale, sense a softening in the diaphargm as your chest deflates slowly.
This is how B.K.S. Iyengar describes Ujjayi Pranayama in Light on Yoga:
“The prefix ud attached to verbs and nouns, means upwards or superiortity in rank. It also means blowing out or expanding. It conveys the sense of pre-eminence and power.
Jaya means conquest, victory, triumph or success. Looked at from another viewpoint it implies restraint or curbing.
Ujjayi is the process in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest is puffed out like that of a proud conqueror.”
In Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood, Geeta Iyengar describes Ujjayi as the “expanded conquest of life-force energy.”
You can start with up to 8 to 10 cycles, but if you find yourself straining, try alternating the cycles of Ujjayi with normal breathing. It is a wonderful way to settle into Savasana at the end of your yoga practice.