Ujjeyi prāṇāyāma strengthens the throat

Post By: Published on: December 26, 2016 Reading time: 3 minutes

School of Yoga explains ujjeyi(ud = root + jaya = victorious)

Ujjeyi is a form of diaphragmatic breathing where the glottis is closed by constricting the throat during inhalation and exhalation.

Ujjeyi technique explained in easy steps.

This prāṇāyāma has two parts,

  • First, sit comfortably in padmāsana, sukhāsana or vajrāsana. Keep back erect.
  • Next, keep mouth closed. Then, press the tongue to the roof of the mouth to close the circuit of prāṇa flow.
  • Following this, close the glottis and tighten the throat.
  • Lastly, place hands in chin or chinmaya-mudra.

The first part covers diaphragmatic breathing.

  • Now, keeping the belly relaxed, draw the air in using the diaphragm.
  • Remember, when the diaphragm reaches its bottom position, the abdomen is relaxed and the lower abdomen is distended to its maximum capability.
  • Also, the breathing sensation should be experienced at the throat.
  • Importantly, focus at the centre of the viśuddhi-cakra and at the bottom of the abdomen at the pubis.
  • Finally, exhale until complete evacuation of the lungs is accomplished.

The second part covers breathing through a tightened throat (constricted glottis).

  • The glottis is the opening between the vocal chords in the larynx. During this procedure, the throat is tightened when the breathing action occurs resulting in a “rushing sound”, like the sound of the ocean.
  • As breathing progresses, the flow through the tightened throat should be kept steady. Consequently, the abdominal and diaphragm pressures should be managed without unduly stressing either areas.

What are the various ujjeyi variations?

There are multiple variations in this prāṇāyāma;

a- Variation 1 – include kumbhaka (holding) in the process.

b- Variation 2 – do ujjeyi with kumbhaka and jalandhara-bandha in the process.

c- Variation 3 – add kumbhaka, jalandhara-bandha and mūl̄a-bandha to the process.

What are the benefits of ujjeyi prāṇāyāma?

The direct benefit of ujjeyi is the strengthening of diaphragm, glottis and epiglottis. Consequently, this procedure is very useful in overcoming snoring. Also, ujjeyi is very useful in improving thyroid functioning, acting in support to sarvāṅgāsana and viparīta-karaṇī.

Ujjeyi is a variation of the valsalva manoeuvre. In the valsalva manoeuvre, the mouth is blocked, the nose is closed and the breath is forced out, releasing pressure in the eustachian tube. Therefore, this prāṇāyāma improves cardiac and upper respiratory tract health.

Finally, ujjeyi is particularly useful in treating psychosomatic stress. In a stress situation, the individual’s breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Consequently, the throat gets constricted, resulting in increased pressure within the pharyngeal and aural cavity. As a result, there is increased pressure in the eustachian tube or middle ear. Therefore, practice of ujjeyi will result in a equalisation of middle ear pressure with the eustachian tube.

Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on ujjeyi (Chapter 2, verse 51 to 53)

Ujjeyi – Close the nāḍi in the throat and draw in air such that it goes touching the throat to the chest while making a noise in passing.
Perform kumbhaka and exhale through the idā (left nostril). This removes śleṣma (phlegm) in the throat and increases gastric fires.
It destroys the defects of the nāḍi, the doṣas and dropsy. Ujjayi should be performed in all conditions, even while walking or sitting.

Points to ponder on ujjeyi

Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazingHatha Yoga Pradeepika
External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadirespiration

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