Pranayama Basics I – Darth Vader and why we control our breath in yoga

Have you ever wondered why in yoga we actually synchronize the movement with the breath? Or what purpose exercises like the Fire Breath, Kapalabhati or Ujjayi have?

Me too. Pranayama has become one of my favorite topics in yoga over time. Because I’ve come to appreciate the effect of breathing exercises

What is pranayama?

Pranayama is composed of several words. Prana is the vital or vital force which flows through our body and which is stimulated and balanced by all yoga practices. Often our breath is equated with prana. “Yama” means as much as control. In the whole word is also “Ayama”, which means the exact opposite, so let go or release. The supposed contradiction dissolves in this way: pranayama = release of the vital force via the control of the breath.

To whom this is too freaky: breathing exercise does it as a translation too!

Control of Prana is done by regulation of length at inhalation (Puraka), exhalation (Rechaka) and pauses between breaths (Kumbakas). In yoga, there are numerous pranayama exercises that regulate and control certain parts of the breath and either soothe or stimulate. All have a stabilizing effect, because shoulder and chest area sink down and relax.

How to Pranayama – the Ujjayi breathing

Probably the most basic pranayama exercise is Ujjayi breathing. It is often translated with sea-noise breath, taught in almost all dynamic yoga styles, and practiced especially during Asana practice. She also sounds like Darth Vader. It warms the body, energizes and calms the mind. Incidentally, “Ujjyai” means victorious and means the triumph over our thoughts, or rather the eternal thought-loops.

1. Sit down first in an upright and comfortable seat, where you can raise your spine and your knees are below your hips.

2. Puff your mouth open against your hand as if you wanted to fog glass. This will narrow your glottis. Keep the feeling in the throat and breathe out with closed mouth through the nose.

3. Now keep your glottis in the same way as you inhale. The result is an even noise that makes your breath easily audible. The sound is a bit reminiscent of the waves of the ocean.

4. Now start inhaling and exhaling to be the same length and equal strength. Most of the time we breathe in too hard and much slower. It helps to count in the head: one, 2, 3, 4, out, 2, 3, 4, a ….

5. Now stop breathing between breaths, but breathe in or out evenly. The flow of breathing is so intense.

6. Last Step: Always breathe in Ujjayi! While sitting, the exercise is easier than in the movement, but with a bit of practice and concentration, you can apply this breathing soon as you perform the asanas. Try it and enjoy!

What is the benefit of breathing in Ujjayi?

I’ve found myself that Ujjayi breathing is not just pushing my asana practice around worlds. Because if I concentrate continuously on breathing, I am completely in my yoga practice and can feel every body position deeper and manage with more ease. But also in everyday life Ujjayi sometimes works wonders. Due to the balancing effect brings me Ujjayi in stressful situation or when waiting quite down and in the moment. And this is not a funny Eso-stuff, but works!

But you should be careful: Ujjayi is an audible breathing exercise and not necessarily suitable for the supermarket checkout. I just say: Darth Vader is behind you …

Then have fun breathing and see you soon when it comes to Kapalabhati and Nadi Shodana.

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