Pranayama: Ujjayi breathing

In our yoga practice, we learned different breathing techniques. They are all important, and I enjoy breathing practices and meditation. However, I will write about a type of breathing method that helps active asana engagements—ujjayi breathing.


When I first learned about ujjayi breathing, my teacher said it is a good pranayama to warm up our body. Later, in our training, I also learned that it helps trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system functions to assist our body’s rest and digestion response when the body is in a relaxed, resting, or feeding mode. This means that ujjayi breathing works to make us more relaxed and calm, and deepens our postures by relaxing the muscles. I do feel like this breathing indeed helps me keep my mind focused on the ‘present’ moment during my asana practice. I feel that it helps reducing stress and anxiety especially when trying challenging poses.


After practising yoga for a while, I started to notice how the quality of my breath impacts the overall quality of my learning journey. While it is challenging, I came to enjoy ashtanga practices, which requires a lot of focus and strengths. If I want to be in a fully focused state, I have to be ‘present’ with my breathing. Increasingly, I realized that ujjayi breathing stops me from rushing through the asana and helps me create inner stillness. Eventually, my goal is to be able to really combine my mind and body with the breathing during my ashtanga practice, and be able to embody the experience the breathing, as if my breath is moving my body (and no longer me).


I really appreciate the powerful nature of breathing. After all, yoga is an ultimate form of balancing act, and breathing is the key for the balance. With steady, controlled breathing, our bodies are able to reach places where we want to be, physically and mentally.