Ujaiya Pranayama for Calm and Energy!

How You Can Use Some Yoga Philosophy to Bring Calm Into Your Life!

It almost sounds too good to be true.  Did you think to yourself that you were far too busy, or that it seemed too self indulgent to spend time on yourself when you had so much to do?  We tend to put in the time to fully apply ourselves to our daily work – our employment, our caring for others, our routine chores.

As we strive to work hard we can find ourselves squeezed of time and for some people they can begin to literally feel squeezed of the breath inside them.  I have often been so busy that I have found myself feeling frazzled, my blood pressure rising, my free time compromised by a never ending list of tasks to complete.  Have you ever found that you are breathing quickly, through your mouth, with barely a rise or fall of your rib cage?    Have you felt that your blood pressure has been rising as you’ve been trying hard to complete a task or rushing from one place to the next?

In yoga there is a type of breathing called Uijaya (Ooj-eye-yaa) breathing that you can practically apply to help you, and you will find it has an enormous positive impact on your physical and mental well being.   Breathing exercises are one of the parts of the yoga philosophy, and one obvious benefit is that taking the time to do a breathing exercise will make you stop, put your work and other chores aside, and it will help you still your thoughts and focus on yourself and your body.  For me, I find that this is a very calming breath that instantly improves how I feel and how I handle stressful situations.  It also helps me to sleep better and to keep perspective on my work load and chores.

Allow yourself the time to find a comfortable sitting position in a quiet place and close your eyes.  Keep your spine straight and rest a hand on each knee so that your chest is not constricted.  Remove any scarves or tight fitting garments you are wearing, and you may want to open a window.  Start to inhale and exhale through your nose and not your mouth, leading you into deeper breathing and away from the shallow upper chest breathing that we tend to do, particularly when we are stressed.  Try to inhale slowly for a count of three and to exhale slowly for a count of three.  You will feel your belly rise as you inhale, and this is your diaphragm filling with air, until your chest also begins to expand.   If you can, make your breath long and smooth, and inhale and exhale for even amounts of time.  As you relax you may find that you can breathe in and out for longer, and if you practise this breathing exercise more often then it will become easier and more comfortable and your inhalation and exhalation will be longer.  Initially try to sit calmly and breathe this way for about ten minutes, building up the exercise to twenty minutes or longer when you need to.  You will find that with regular practise the benefits become greater and that in your everyday life you breathing, energy and sleep will improve.

Apart from the mental benefit of letting yourself relax and put your stresses and strains on hold for a time, there are important physical elements to breathing exercises.  Oxygen is our body’s most vital nutrient and whilst we can last days without food or water we cannot last many minutes without oxygen.  In Yoga the breathing exercises are called pranayamas, which literally translates as “extension of the life force”, which is what oxygen is to our bodies.

The oxygen that enters our body helps to purify our blood stream, and actually helps to energise our bodies.   It can lower your blood pressure and you may also find it interesting to know that the animals which breathe the slowest live the longest, such as the wise but hard working elephant!   It is also believed that body has chakras, energy points, and that Uijaya breathing stimulates some of these chakras inside us.

This breathing exercise, Uijaya, actually translates from Sanskrit as Victorious Breath!  Imagine taking the time out to let your body relax and feel the energy that oxygen can give your body, whilst experiencing the lowering of your blood pressure and physical relaxation.  Perhaps when you return to your work you will find that you too are more Victorious!