Think about that time in the evening when you are lying in bed and just about to drift off to sleep…try to recall what the breath felt like? any sound of the breath?
You may have experienced the unconscious action of Ujjayi breathing. The Ujjayi breath is a slow rhythmical breath that almost feels like you are breathing directly through the throat. There is a slight hissing like sound that is only audible to you as the breath is drawn steadily but slowly inward and outward.
One of the benefits of this type of breathing include creating a state of deep relaxation. According to Swami Satyananda (APMB 2002) this tranquillising breath is “used in yoga therapy to soothe the nervous system and calm the mind”. In this way it quite helpful in dealing with insomnia.
Ujjayi pranayama also offers benefits in stimulating the metabolic rate and increasing the blood circulation through the body. In some traditions you may be directed by your teacher to practice Ujjayi breathing during the pose.
When you consciously practice Ujjayi breathing you begin by observing the natural breath at the nostrils then take your awareness to the breath at the throat. Begin to slow the breath down so it is long and controlled…slightly flexing the glottis at the back of the throat which narrows the air passage just a little and it will make a sound. Then focus on the sound of the breath in the throat. There is no strain.
The sound may remind you of sound of a baby snoring softly. Ujjayi breathing can be practised in a sitting position in preparation for meditation or lying in Shavasana..to aid in relaxation.
Only practice for short periods of time to begin with and check with your teacher to make sure this practice is suitable for you.