Poses & Techniques,  Uncategorized

How to do Ujjayi Breath for Stroke & Traumatic Brain Injuries

Ujjayi breathing is a type of pranayama (yogic breathing technique) that involves partially constricting the throat to control the flow of air as you breathe. It’s also commonly known as “victorious breath” or “ocean breath”.  This breathing technique can help calm the mind, improve focus, and promote relaxation in the body and mind. It can also create heat in the body which is helpful to promote blood flow during physical activities. 

Ujjayi breath is often used in yoga practice, particularly in vinyasa yoga where breath is paired with movement, but can also be helpful in managing stress and anxiety in everyday life. 

Below we’ve outlined how to practice Ujjayi Breath as well as some alternative options for individuals or survivors who find the full use of constricted breath too restrictive. We recommend starting this breathing practice for just a few minutes at a time and gradually increase the length of your practice as you become more comfortable with the technique.

Ujjayi Breath – Exhale Constriction Only

  1. Find a comfortable seated position, with your back tall and your feet firmly planted on the ground. This should be a comfortable but supported posture.
  2. Option here to place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. This can be helpful to bring your attention to your breath but is not required for this breathing practice. If it’s easier, let your hands rest comfortably in your lap.
  3. Bring your attention to your breath, feeling the rise on your inhale and fall of your chest and/or belly with each exhale. Continue this long focused nature breathing pattern until you feel steady and comfortable to try the next step.
  4. On your next breath out, partially constrict the back of your throat. This will create a slight hissing sound as you breathe out. It can be helpful to imagine that you’re breathing out on a cold pane of glass so it fogs it up. 
  5.  Inhale through your nose, focusing on taking long and slow breaths.
  6. Continue this pattern of inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth with a slightly constricted throat for several breaths. Notice any heat or sensations that arise as your use this breath. 
  7. Option here to gently seal your lips together so both your inhales and exhales are done through your nose. You will still create a muted hissing sound as you continue to constrict the back of your throat for your exhales. 
  8. After a couple minutes, return to a natural breathing pattern, releasing the constriction you had on the back of your throat. 

Ujjayi Breath – Inhale & Exhale Constriction

The full Ujjayi Breath includes constricting the back of your throat for both inhales and exhales. While this is a great practice for creating heat in the body, it can also feel like you have a shortness of breath. 

Please discontinue this practice if you have any light-headedness or start to feel any sensations of panic or discomfort. 

  1. Find a comfortable seated position, with your back tall and your feet firmly planted on the ground. 
  2. Option here to place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. Otherwise, let your hands rest in your lap.
  3. Bring your attention to your breath, feeling the rise on your inhale and fall of your chest and/or belly with each exhale. Continue this long focused nature breathing pattern until you feel steady and comfortable to try the next step.
  4. On your next exhale, partially constrict the back of your throat. This will create a slight hissing sound as you breathe out. It can be helpful to imagine that you’re breathing out on a cold pane of glass so it fogs it up. 
  5.  Maintain this constriction in your throat as you inhale through your nose. You will hear a soft hissing sound, similar to your exhale.
  6. Continue this pattern of constricted breathing, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth for several breaths. Notice any heat or sensations that arise as your use this breath. 
  7. Option here to gently seal your lips together so both your inhales and exhales are done through your nose. You will still create a muted hissing sound as you continue to constrict the back of your throat. 
  8. After a couple minutes, return to a natural breathing pattern, releasing your throat so your breaths or uninhibited.

Let’s Try it Together! 

 

Remember to keep your jaw relaxed and your mouth closed as you practice ujjayi breathing. With regular practice, you should start to feel the calming and centering effects of this powerful breathing technique. 

Ujjayi is just one of the many breathing techniques that we use in our online chair yoga classes. Breathing practices have been shown to help with mental clarity, focus, and concentration in survivors.

Learn more about our weekly live chair yoga classes and how they can be a part of your stroke recovery today! Email us at info@unalomelotus.com or call 720.505.4015

 

Sources: Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama; Health Line Ujjayi Pranayama