How to Do Ocean Breath (Ujjayi Pranayama) in Yoga

Ocean Breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama) is most often used to support yoga poses, especially in the vinyasa style. In this breathing technique, contract the back of your throat to support the stretching of each cycle of breathing.

Each inhale and exhale is long, full, deep, and controlled. You can learn this breathing by sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position. Once you get the hang of it, start using it during yoga practice.


Ocean Breath concentrates and directs the breath, giving asana practice extra strength and focus. Increase oxygen consumption.

For example, a clinical study conducted by the Department of Neurophysiology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience in Bangalore, India, found that pranayama ujjayi can increase oxygen consumption during practice by approximately 50%.

Practicing this breathing pattern also calms your body's flight or flight response to promote relaxation. Your body is telling you that it wants to get out of the pose as soon as possible, but with deep breathing you are saying that it is okay and that you can hold out longer.

Another way to think about ujjayi breathing is to visualize your throat as a garden hose, with your breath passing like a trickle of water. Placing your thumb partially over the opening of the hose will increase the power of the flowing water.

It is the same as you do with the throat during ujjayi breathing. The air entering through your constricted throat is powerful, directed breath that you can send to the parts of your body that need it during your practice.

Vinyasa yoga is often called breath-synchronized movement, which means that you move from one pose to another when you inhale or exhale.

But these breathing patterns aren't just for flowing yoga styles - it's slow, deep breathing that can help you find your reserve tank on long breaks.

Step by step instructions

Sit upright with your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears and close your eyes. To prepare, become aware of your breathing without trying to control it in any way. Begin inhaling and exhaling through your mouth if you are breathing through your nose.

Bring your awareness to your throat. As you exhale, begin to tone the back of your throat (glottis or soft palate), slightly restricting airflow. Imagine that you are fogging up a pair of glasses. You should hear a soft hiss.

Once you are comfortable exhaling, begin applying the same throat twitch to inhale. You should, once again, hear a soft hiss. That's where the name of the breath comes from: it looks like the ocean. (Sounds like Darth Vader too).

When you can control your throat on both inhaling and exhaling, close your mouth and begin to breathe through your nose. Continue applying the same tone to your throat as when you had your mouth open. The breath will continue to make noise in and out of the nose. This is the ujjayi breath.

Now start using this breath during practice. If the teacher tells you to breathe in, do a ujjayi inspiration. If you need something extra to support you while holding a pose, remember this breath and apply it.

Common mistakes

The most common mistake in ocean breathing is squeezing the throat. You just want a slight constriction.

Modifications and variations

Practice ocean breathing frequently as you become more familiar with the practice. You want to be able to use it in your yoga sessions without having to take a break. Ask your yoga instructor for feedback on whether you are doing it correctly or if you need further advice or modifications.

Advanced professionals can explore other variations with proper instruction. The use of muscle blocks (bandhas), such as a throat block, is an advanced technique, as is breath-holding (kumbhakas).

Safety and precautions

If you have trouble breathing or a condition like asthma, this breathing pattern can be difficult. Make sure to breathe enough and end the practice if you feel dizzy or lightheaded. You should not feel any pain during this practice.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about Ujjayi Pranayama

Source: Home Yoga

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