Ujjayi Pranayama – calms the mind, warms the body

Yoga guru, Anjit Suhag, tells us how by practicing Ujjayi Pranayama one can calm and relax the mind as well as the body.

Ujjayi Pranayama is a type of Pranayama that entails deep inhalation through both nostrils with a partially closed glottis. This Pranayama can be done at anytime (without retention) and hence called Ujjayi Pranayama. All stages of this Pranayama, except those with retentions (Kumbhaka), maybe done at any time.

The prefix ‘ud’ means upwards or expanding. It also conveys the sense of pre-eminence and power. ‘Jaya’ means conquest or success and also means restraint from another point of view.

Ujjayi Pranayama is a breath control practice in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest puffed out.

How to do it?

  • Sit in any comfortable position like Padmasana, Siddhasana or Virasana.
  • Make sure to keep the back erect and rigid.
  • Now, lower the head to the trunk, rest the chin in the notch between the collar-bones just above the breast-bone (Jalandhara bandha)
  • Stretch out the arms and rest the back of the wrists on the knees.
  • Join the tips of the index fingers to the tips of the thumbs, keeping the other fingers extended. (jnana Mudra)
  • Close the eyes and look inwards
  • Exhale completely
  • For Ujjayi breath take a slow, deep breath through both nostrils. The passage of the incoming air should be felt on the roof of the palate while making a sibilant sound (sa). This sound should be heard.
  • Fill the lungs with air up to the brim. Care should be taken not to bloat the abdomen during this process of inhalation.
  • Hold the breath for a second or two. This internal retention is called ‘Antara Kumbhaka’.
  • Exhale slowly, deeply and steadily until the lungs are completely empty. As you begin to exhale, keep your grip on the abdomen, after two or three seconds of exhalation, relax the diaphragm gradually and slowly
  • While exhaling, the passage of the outgoing air should be felt on the roof of the palate. The brushing of the air on the palate should make an aspirate sound (ha). This exhalation is called rechaka.
  • Wait for a second before drawing a fresh breath. This waiting period is called Bahya Kumbhaka.
  • Repeat the cycle for five to ten minutes keeping the eyes closed throughout.
  • Lie on the floor in Savasana

Ujjayi Pranayam maybe done without JalandharaBandha.It can be done even while walking or lying down. This is the only Pranayama that can be done at all times of the day and night.


This Pranayama aerates the lungs, removes phlegm, gives endurance, soothes the nerves and tones the entire body system. Ujjayi without Kumbhaka, done in a reclining position, is ideal for persons suffering from high blood pressures or coronary troubles.

The practice of this Pranayam brings amazing relief to patients with enlarged ventricles and congenital heart defects. Moreover, it stills the fears that beset heart patients who are afraid to make the least movement lest they aggravate their condition.

Important details

  • All stages of all Pranayama begin with exhalation and end in inhalation.
  • All inhalations are made with a sibilant sound ‘ssss’ and all exhalations with aspirate ‘hhhh’
  • While sitting for Pranayama in the initial stages, use a support.
  • Savasana is suggested at the end of each Pranayama.


Yoga teacher

New Delhi

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