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  • Writer's pictureN Rohit

How to do Ujjayi pranayama step by step

What is Ujjayi Pranayama

The Ujjayi Pranayama is sometimes also referred to as ocean breath as the sound is similar to waves of an ocean.

To know the broader meaning of Ujjayi Pranayama and its benefits we must first try to decode the Sanskrit word ujjayi and then Pranayama


The prefix ud attached to Jayi means upwards or superiority in rank and Jaya is conquest, victory, triumph, or success.

Ujjayi is a breathing pattern in which the air is completely inhaled in the lungs and the chest is puffed out like that of a king or ruler.


The word Pranayama is an amalgamation of two words Prana which means vital force and Ayama is lengthening.

Pranayama means lengthening of breath. Pranayama is a deliberate attempt to control the breathing and avail amazing health benefits like

  1. Increase life span.

  2. Boost immunity.

  3. Better concentration.

  4. Keep memory sharp at any age.

The concept of Pranayama:

Pranayama is said to be more effective when we include the Mudra, Bandha, and Kumbhaka. Let us understand each of these Yogic term.

Mudra: Mudra means Gesture or mark. The Yoga mudras are symbolic gestures that are usually practiced with fingers.

Bandha: The meaning of Bandha is Seal or lock. It is a method in yoga practice to contract certain organs or parts of the body. 3 types of bandhas are practiced.

1. Mula bandha - Known as Pelvic contraction.

2. Uddiyana bandha - Abdominal Contraction where the navel is drawn close to the spine.

2. Jalandhara bandha - Chin lock done by bringing the chin close to collar bone.

Kumbhaka: Kumbha is breath retention and there are mainly 2 types of kumbhaka.

  1. Anthar kumbhaka which is Filling the air in Lungs and retain the breath.

  2. Bahya kumbhaka is outer breath retention.

How to do Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi is the only Pranayama that can be done while sitting, standing, or even while performing asanas.

There are several authentic schools of yoga known in India, and one among them is called Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga.

The Mysore style is one of the vinyasa styles of yoga, starting with Surya namaskar A and the Suryanamaskar B followed by Asanas.

This is a unique style in which the person who practice has to do the suryanamaskar and all asanas breathing in ujjayi.

Ujjayi is also done sitting in padmasana and the method is as follows.

Steps of ujjayi pranayama while sitting.

  1. Sit in any comfortable position like padmasana,siddasana, or virasana.

  2. Keep the spine straight and firm. Lower the head to the trunk. Rest the chin in the notch between the collar bone just above the breast bone. ( This is Jalandhara Bandha or Chin lock )

  3. Stretch the arms out straight and rest the back of the wrists on the knees. Join the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb, keeping the other fingers extended. ( Joining the Index fingertip to thumb is called jnana mudra which symbolizes knowledge, practicing this is known to enhance the learning ability to upgrade one's knowledge )

  4. Close the eyes and look inwards and Exhale Completely.

  5. Now the Ujjayi method of breathing begins.

  6. Inhale slowly so that passage of the inhaled air is felt on the roof of the palate that makes a sibilant sound. The sound should be heard.

  7. Fill the lungs up to the brim. Care should be taken not to bloat the abdomen in the process of inhalation. ( Observe this in all the types of Pranayama.)This filling up is called Puraka ( Inhalation). The entire abdominal area should be pulled back towards the spine.

  8. Hold the breath for a second or two. This internal retention of breath is called Antara kumbhaka then you must contract the pelvic region, which is called Moola bandha.

  9. Exhale slowly, deeply and gradually, until the lungs are 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. This exhalation is called rechaka.

  10. Wait for a second before drawing a fresh breath. This waiting period is called Bahya kumbhaka or outer breath retention.

  11. The process described from 7 to 10 completes one cycle of ujjayi pranayama.

  12. Repeat the cycles for 5 to 10 minutes keeping the eyes shut throughout.

Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama:

  1. Ujjayi aerates the lungs and removes the phlegm

  2. This pranayama tones the entire system.

  3. The pupils suffering from High blood pressure can do this pranayama in a reclining position without kumbhaka.

  4. Ujjayi soothes the nervous system.

  5. Improves Concentration.

  6. Reduce anxiety and corrects sleep-related disorders.

  7. Ujjayi practiced in Jalandhara bandha benefits people with thyroid issues.

The Practice of Yoga is known to bring plenty of health benefits and make your life pleasant. Always learn yoga under the supervision of an experienced yoga teacher to avoid faulty practice which may have an adverse effect.

Click here to learn from our live Online Yoga Classes safely staying home.

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