Ujjayi and Samana Pranayama

Breath work, or pranayama, is an easily accessible type of meditation focusing on the awareness of breath and designed to heal the physical, mental, and energetic body. Pranayama, directly translating into ‘extending life force’, is highly effective in calming the fluctuations of mind and can be used anytime of the day for relaxing or stimulating purposes.

Meditation in Croatia Among other types of breath work, these next few weeks will focus on Samana Pranayama, or ‘equal/ratio’ breath as a means to stimulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Lengthening the inhalation and sustaining the top of the breath will have an energizing effect while elongating the exhales and holding the bottom of the breath will have a calming effect on the body. Samana breath control will require the understanding of Ujjayi or ‘victorious breath’. Here’s how to practice:

Sitting in a comfortable seat, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth as if fogging up a mirror. Observe that as you exhale, naturally the back of the throat tightens creating a sustained ‘haa’ sound. Practice a few rounds, inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth. Now close the mouth and keep directing the breath to the back of the throat while breathing solely through the nose. As you become more comfortable with Ujjayi, let the flow of breath become even and the sound become smooth.

Here is one 7 to 9 minute example sequence of Samana Pranayama we viewed in class. Notice the breath is retained at both the top of inhale and the bottom of exhale.

Inhale 6, Exhale 6 (x4)
Inhale 6, Retain 3, Exhale 6, Retain 3 (x4)
Inhale 8, Retain 4, Exhale 8, Retain 4 (x6)
Inhale 6, Retain 3, Exhale 6, Retain 3 (x4)
Inhale 6, Exhale 6 (x4)

Practice, and have fun!

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