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Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath) and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

By Dr. Himani Bisht +2 more

Introduction: 

Nowadays the internet is all about fitness goals and workout challenges. Of these fitness goals, one of the major ones is yoga. Famous Bollywood celebrities like Sara Ali Khan, Janhvi Kapoor and Shilpa Shetty do their yoga practice. Yoga is an art of the old times that involves physical movement. Yoga is among the six systems of Hindu philosophy: Samkhya, Vaisheshika, Yoga, Nyaya, Uttara Mimamsa and Purva Mimamsa. Pranayama is practised to control and restrain one’s vital energy in the body. Ujjayi pranayama is one of the techniques practised in yoga. The most popular type of breath control utilized in yoga is ujjayi breathing. It is a method that concentrates on using your nose to breathe and compressing your throat to produce a sound like a faint snore. Let us look at some of the health benefits of ujjayi pranayama.1 

ujjayi pranayama benefits

What is Ujjayi Pranayama? 

Pranayama is a breathing technique that is embedded in yoga and practised simultaneously. It can control the energy in one’s body and regulate the breath to the proper channel.1 Ujjayi pranayama is also known as ocean breathing or victorious breathing. Ujjayi is composed of two words- ‘ud’ which means a sense of superiority or power, and ‘jaya’ means victory, conquest, or success, giving it the meaning of victorious breathing. It is known as ocean breathing due to its ocean wave-like sound during exhalation and inhalation. The sound is produced due to friction of the throat with the air. Ujjayi pranayama can be practised alone or with other yogic exercises.1,2 

Did you know?

How to Do it? 

The ujjayi pranayama steps are given below: 

  • First, sit in a yoga pose like Padmasana (Lotus pose) with your eyes shut and your back straight. 
  • Take a long deep breath slowly from both nostrils. 
  • While inhaling, try to contract the throat and feel the touch of air in your throat. 
  • Be cautious that the air does not touch inside the Nose. 
  • A distinct sound is produced when the air touches the throat. 
  • Keep breathing and relax. 
  • Slightly contract the rear of your throat and make a gentle hissing sound as you inhale.  
  • The sound is not forced, but it can be loud enough. 
  • Now breathe out by closing your right nostril and exhale from the left nostril. 
  • Try to produce the sound ‘HHHHAA’ while exhaling.2 

Did You Know? 

Here are a few fun facts about ujjayi pranayama that you might find interesting: 

  • Ujjayi pranayama is referred to as Darth Vader breath due to its distinctive sound. Darth Vader is known for his unique sound. Similarly, ujjayi pranayama also creates a unique sound. 
  • Ujjayi pranayama creates a whisper-like sound, similar to the sound of ocean waves rolling in and out of the shore.  

Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama 

Ujjayi pranayama is a breathing technique that may help to manage mental, physical, and spiritual health. Some of the potential benefits of ujjayi pranayama are: 

1. Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama to Improve Quality of Voice: 

Ujjayi pranayama may improve voice quality, giving a soothing and powerful melodic texture. Everyone can practice ujjayi pranayama and majorly this may help the people who use their voice regularly in their profession. Regular practising of ujjayi pranayama may reduce the risk of voice disorders in teachers, singers, and actors. However, further studies are required to see if Ujjayi pranayama can help to improve the quality of voice.1 

2. Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama for Thyroid Gland: 

Ujjayi pranayama may help in the case of hypothyroidism, which is caused due to limited activity of the thyroid gland. Practising Ujjayi pranayama may help to improve thyroid function. However, more research is yet to be done to check the exact function of Ujjayi pranayama on hypothyroidism. You must consult a doctor instead of self-medicating if you have thyroid disease.2 

3. Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama for Asthma: 

Ujjayi pranayama may be helpful in the case of asthma. Ujjayi pranayama may be often recommended as a combination therapy along with conventional asthma treatment. More studies are yet to be done to check the effect of Ujjayi pranayama on asthma. If you experience severe asthma attacks, you must immediately consult your doctor.3 

4. Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama for Reducing Blood Pressure: 

Ujjayi pranayama may be beneficial to individuals with high blood pressure. A study conducted on sixty young healthy volunteers suggests that regular practice of Ujjayi pranayama may lower blood pressure. The same study suggested that regular practice of ujjayi pranayama may reduce the pulse rate in the body.4 However, further studies are yet to confirm if Ujjayi pranayama can reduce blood pressure. You must consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure and do not self-medicate.4 

I would like to emphasise a gentle caution for those with low blood pressure when it comes to practising Ujjayi Pranayama. This particular breathing technique involves applying pressure to the carotid sinus, which may potentially cause a further decrease in blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure, it is important to consult a doctor before incorporating Ujjayi Pranayama into your practice.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

5. Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama to Improve Attention: 

Research conducted to study the immediate effect of ujjayi pranayama on the cognitive abilities of males, it was found that ujjayi pranayama may calm the mind and improve attention and memory. However, more studies are required to check the effect of Ujjayi pranayama on enhancing attention and other cognitive functions.5 

6. Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama for Anxiety: 

Ujjayi pranayama may help to reduce and manage anxiety. However, further systemic studies are required to evaluate the effect of Ujjayi pranayama on anxiety. Therefore, it is important to consider consulting a therapist or psychiatrist if you feel anxious often.6 

7. Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama to Stabilise Energy: 

Ujjayi pranayama may be used to stabilise energy and consciousness. When individuals practise Ujjayi pranayama, they might experience pure consciousness. In a study, this was reflected on an electroencephalograph, which is an instrument used to measure the electrical activity in the brain. However, further studies are yet to confirm if Ujjayi pranayama can stabilise energy and consciousness.7 

Other Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama: 

  • Ujjayi pranayama may clear blocked arteries and regulate cholesterol levels. 
  • It may help with cataracts, migraine, and sinus problems. 
  • It may lower the risk of heart attacks. 
  • It may reduce thyroid problems. 
  • It may reduce cough, fever, and chronic cold. 
  • It may improve lisping problems in children. 

Yoga practice may develop the mind and body. However, it is still not an alternative to modern medicine. You must not rely on yoga alone to treat any condition. Please consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your condition correctly and advise accordingly. Moreover, it is necessary to practice and learn yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher to avoid any injuries. 

I may recommend trying Ujjayi Pranayama for those seeking natural ways to manage sleep-related issues. By practising Ujjayi Pranayama, individuals may experience a calming and soothing effect on the mind, promoting more restful and peaceful sleep.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Risks of Exercise 

The risks associated with Ujjayi pranayama are as follows: 

  • Introverted people shall avoid performing Ujjayi pranayama 
  • Individuals suffering from heart disease may be at risk. Therefore, they shall not combine mudras and breath retention with Ujjayi pranayama.  
  • Those suffering from a slipped disc of vertebral spondylitis shall be careful of the position. 
  • You must not contract the throat strongly while performing Ujjayi pranayama.8 

You must practice yoga under the guidance of a trained yoga professional to avoid any injury. 

Conclusion 

Ujjayi pranayama is a breathing technique known as ocean breathing or victorious breathing. Ujjayi is composed of two words- ‘ud’ which means a sense of superiority or power, and ‘jaya’ means victory, conquest, or success. Ujjayi pranayama may help to improve the quality of voice. It may act against hypothyroidism, asthma, high pulse rate and blood pressure. It may also be used to improve attention, manage anxiety, and stabilise energy in the body. It is advised to perform Ujjayi pranayama under the training of a yoga professional. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to do the ujjayi pranayama technique? 

First, sit in a yoga pose Padmasana (Lotus pose) and close your eyes with your back straight. Then, take a long, deep breath slowly from both nostrils. While inhaling, try to contract the throat and feel the touch of air in your throat. Be cautious that it does not touch inside the nose. A distinct sound is produced when the air touches the throat. Keep breathing and relax. Slightly contract your throat and make a gentle hissing sound as you inhale. The sound is not forced, but it can be loud enough. Now breathe out by closing your right nostril and exhale from the left nostril. Try to produce the sound ‘HHHHHAAA’ while exhaling.2 

What are the benefits of ujjayi for the thyroid? 

Ujjayi pranayama may help in the case of hypothyroidism and may reduce thyroid problems.2 

Is there any benefit of ujjayi pranayama for high blood pressure? 

Yes, ujjayi pranayama may help to reduce blood pressure.4 

What are the health benefits of ujjayi pranayama? 

Ujjayi pranayama may help to improve the quality of voice. It may act against hypothyroidism, asthma, high pulse rate and blood pressure. It may also be used to improve attention, manage anxiety, and stabilise energy in the body.1-7 

What are the risks associated with ujjayi pranayama? 

Introverted people shall avoid performing Ujjayi pranayama. Individuals suffering from heart disease may be at risk. Therefore, they shall not combine mudras and breath retention with Ujjayi pranayama. Those suffering from a slipped disc of vertebral spondylitis shall be careful of the position. You must not contract the throat strongly while performing Ujjayi pranayama.8 

Is ujjayi pranayama a heating pranayama?

Yes, ujjayi pranayama is often considered a heating pranayama because it generates warmth in the body through the regulation of breath and activation of the throat muscles. This can help stimulate circulation and create a sense of internal warmth during practice.

References: 

  1. Usha M, Bhat JS, Kumar BR, Bajaj G, Shruthi PP. Immediate effects of “Ujjayi Pranayama” on aerodynamic, acoustic and self-perception parameters of voice in professional voice users. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2022 Jan 1;13(1):100490. Available from: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0975947621001388?token=D6853B94AB47FA31AAC77954AAB0A5238D9ACD8FFF6737C98D8BF24FA9545A7985B27082717551957A0FCA292697B1DF&originRegion=eu-west-1&originCreation=20220915162132 
  1. Dinesh R, Sandeep K, Rachana J, RajeevS. METHOD OF UJJAYI PRANAYAMA IN THE MANAGEMENT OF HYPOTHYROIDISM. WORLD JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICAL AND MEDICAL RESEARCH. 2020 July 6(8), pp.213–216. Available from: https://www.wjpmr.com/download/article/70072020/1596185932.pdf 
  1. Lathadevi GV, Uma T. Evaluation of pulmonary functions in asthmatics after six weeks of ujjayi pranayama and shavasana training. Biomedicine. 2012;32(1):52-6. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289388427_Evaluation_of_pulmonary_functions_in_asthmatics_after_six_weeks_of_ujjayi_pranayama_and_shavasana_training 
  1. Mahour J, Verma P. Effect of ujjayi pranayama on cardiovascular autonomic function tests. National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2017;7(4):391. Available from: https://www.njppp.com/fulltext/28-1476538333.pdf 
  1. Singh P. THE IMMEDIATE EFFECT OF UJJAYI PRANAYAMA ON COGNITIVE ABILITIES OF MALE PARTICIPANTS: PRE–POST DESIGN. Available from: http://www.libraryofyoga.com:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456789/1896/1/Abstract-pooja.pdf 
  1. Dwivedi N, Dwivedi SK. Impact of Ujjayi Pranayama on anxiety. IAHRW International Journal of Social Sciences Review. 2020 Sep 1;8(7-9):333-5. Available: https://www.proquest.com/openview/b731c7a03aa2b02a36e1391280362a87/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=5347679 
  1. Patil ST, Bormane DS. Electroencephalograph Signal Analysis During Ujjayi pranayama. In13th International Conference on Biomedical Engineering 2009 (pp. 1-4). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. Available from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-540-92841-6_1 
  1. Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Asana Pranayama Mudra and Bandhas Bihar School [Internet] [Cited: 2022 Sep 15] Available from: https://upaya-yoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Asana-Pranayama-Mudra-and-Bandhas-Bihar-School.pdf 

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