Ujjayi Breathing – “The Ocean Breath”
I attended a very exciting class this morning. Instead of immediately getting into the poses, our instructor had us take about 10 minutes to lie down in Shavasana and focus on our Ujjayi breathing, which is also known as “the ocean breath” or commonly referred to as “cobra breathing.”
The instructor was very descriptive in her explanations and had us breathing deeply in ‘sooooooooos’ and ‘haaaaaaaas.’
She had us breathe in through the nose and focus on the sound ‘sooo.’ Then she had us breathe out through the mouth while we practiced making the audible sound of ‘haaaa.’ Then we switched over to breathing both in and out through the nose, while remaining steadily focused on the ‘haaaa’ sound – even during the exhalation through the nose.
We practiced this breathing for what seemed like forever, until it was almost a natural experience and didn’t require any thought. And when we stopped thinking about the breathing, it became effortless.
It was then – and only then – that we began to move through the poses for the class. As we moved through our poses, our instructor continued to give subtle reminders for us to stay intently focused on our Ujjayi breathing.
When we finally finished our class with Shavasana, our instructor said “Okay, you can now disengage your Ujjayi breath and relax into stillness.”
Wow, what a great way to practice! I’ve always worked at staying focused on my breathing, making sure to remind myself not to hold it during longer extended poses. But this intense breathing warm-up really shifted the whole perspective of breathing for me and my mind truly focused 100% (okay, maybe 93%) on my breathing throughout the class.
So whether you’re a teacher who can work this into your next class or a yoga practitioner, I highly recommend that you try to take the time to show up 10 to 15 minutes before class and go into deep Ujjayi breathing. I think you’ll be as blown away as I was to find what a difference it makes to your whole yoga practice.
[tags]Shavasana, cobra breathing, Ujjayi breathing, breathing warm-up, yoga practitioner, yoga practice, breath technique[/tags]