This is another pranayama that I love to practice and teach, it is the Ujjayi Breath  - “the breath on which to rest the mind”1.

Here I will describe it exactly as I taught it at my class this evening (of course it’s always better to be in a class and learn it “live”).  In this description it is the ujjayi breath as a pranayama practice (it is also used in the physical practice of Ashtanga). 

There are variations of teaching and practice, this is my current practice.  However, I also like work with more control of the abdomen, keeping a subtle drawing in while the breath expands the chest.

It is better to sit for the practice, not lie down, as you can drift off a bit.  However it is a great breath to help you sleep and, if you have been ill or injured and maybe can’t continue with your usual yoga practice then lie down and enjoy the balancing and restoring effects.

There are various positions for sitting or kneeling - not many people I know are totally comfortable in the full lotus position but if it’s ok for you then that’s the one to do.  Otherwise try half-lotus, cross-legged or kneeling.  Use a block or blanket to lift your hips, pad your knees and ankles.  You can also use a prayer stool or sit on a chair.  You must feel comfortable so you can relax - experiment with your position.  Make sure you will be warm and undisturbed.

You can now listen to a recording of the practice here

Ujjayi breathing



Yoga and well-being with Lesley Doveton        

The transcript...

Come into a comfortable kneeling or sitting position , one in which you can relax

Place the backs of your hands on your knees and touch your thumb and forefinger together, in jnana mudra the other three fingers straight.  Take your attention to your feet and legs,soften and release your feet and legs,  relax your buttocks and release into your sitting bones.  Feel spacious in your hips and spread that space to your lower back.  Let go into the ground. Now lift up through your spine away from the heaviness of your base, feeling light and spacious; release your shoulders and softly lift the base of your skull so that your chin draws slightly in towards your throat.

Now follow your breath, breathing in and out through your nose.  Find an easy and balanced rhythm.

Develop your breathing so it becomes longer, slower and smoother.                

Take the breath to your abdomen as well as your mid and upper chest, work from the bottom up on both the in and out breath.  Feel the breath’s easy expansion and contraction in your front, sides and back.

Now, imagine you are standing close to a mirror.  Take a long slow in-breath through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth, making a  long “haa” sound  as if you are steaming up the mirror. 

Do that again, listen to the sound and feel the sensation in your throat.

Now breathe in and out through your nose again and continue to feel and hear the “haa” sound.  Now as you breathe in, continue to maintain this  subtle throat constriction and hear a sightly higher-pitched “saa” sound.  Continue this breath finding a smooth rhythm.

Let your mind rest on the breath and enjoy the balance between the in-breath - the sun breath and the out-breath - the moon breath.

Now let your mind rest on nine more breaths..... (long break in sound recording here) .......then relax your breathing so that your body breathes itself.

Sit and enjoy the feeling.

1. Quote from Philip Xerri