The Importance and Benefits of Ujjai Pranayama
The audible rhythm of ujjai pranayama or ujjai breath serves to give feedback as to the quality of our effort and, more importantly, provide a thread of concentration that carried us all the way to the end of class. Attentively listening to the sound of the breath is enough to begin to draw us deeper into our practice and give us access to the yoga of sound.
It was Richard Freeman, the famed Ashtanga Yoga teacher, who first introduced me to the potency of sound as an instrument of yoga. After nearly two hours of high power heat and asana, we found refuge in shavasana, a return to silence.
Richard gently coaxed us out of our trance like absorption of corpse pose, with the deeply primal, humming resonance of a Tibetan singing bowel. The sound was a bridge between inner and outer world -we were being beckoned back to our earthly existence.
Richard regularly began his classes with students lying on their backs, knees bent, with feet on the floor. He then instructed us to gently constrict the back of the throat, so that the air would rub across it and produce a soft audible whisper, something like wind through the trees, or the sound of the sea.
From a tantra-yoga perspective, there are four stages of sound.
Three of these stages precede gross auditory forms of sound. According to this tradition the entire Universe is set in motion by a deep current of vibrational pulsation called adya-spanda, which precedes the formation of material objects.
The most dense form of sound is the spoken word, called vaikhari.
This is the realm of sound that most of us consciously occupy. None the less, it is possible to affect deep changes in our psyche through deliberate changes in vaikhari. Anyone can appreciate the quality of influence of listening to the drone of competing voices at a social function and the trance-like melody of kirtan.
Entire yoga systems, such as laya yoga (the yoga of sound and chakras), kirtan (bhakti yoga), nada yoga (the yoga of inner sound), and mantra yoga (the ritualistic application of mantra) are built around the manipulation of sound vibrations.
All of these systems are intended to attune us to a higher reality through specific sound currents.
While many of these sound based systems may seem out of reach, you have no further to look than the sound of your own breath to begin to discover the ability of sound to inform your practice. One of the simplest ways to begin to infuse your practice with sound based awareness is through the ujjai breath. Ujjai tells us when we need to surrender into a resting posture, as the breath should remain almost as smooth in dynamic postures as in resting poses. It allows us to practice honesty, taking a step back to let go of our ego. Here are some additional benefits:
6 Physical Benefits of Consistent, Focused Ujjai Breath
1. Releases tension and tight areas of the body
2. Creates endurance that helps maintains the rhythm of the class
3. Decreases pain from headaches and sinus pressure, and strengthens the nervous and digestive systems
4. Heats up the core of the body making stretching safer while cleansing the inner organs of toxins
5. Improves concentration and balance in your physical practice
6. Diminishes distractions allowing for a more grounded practice
Sonic Gong Bath for Healing and Renewal – Nov. 19
Join Denver’s very own master Gong Bath musician, Gary Fishman, on a vibrational journey of serenity and renewal. Fishman powerfully blends indigenous instruments, such as planetary gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, and didgeridoos. He also integrates the use of dazzling crystals and stunning stones as part of this cosmic journey of sound and vibration.
Any and all are welcome to attend this interstellar voyage of cellular renewal. Bring something to lye down on such as a blanket, a yoga mat or some combination of the above. Click here for more information.
Saturday, Nov. 19th. 6-9:30 | 3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC
Suggested Donation ($10-20)