If there’s one aspect of exercise that we have a tendency to ignore, it’s breathing. And yet whether running, cycling, lifting weights, doing callisthenics, martial arts, yoga or pilates – or any other sporting activity you care to mention, paying attention to how we are breathing can radically enhance not only performance, but also overall wellbeing and even long term health outcomes.
One of the most effective breathing techniques has its origins in the millennia-old practice of yoga: Ujjayi. Variously translated as ‘oceanic’ or ‘victorious’ breathing, Ujjayi is a breath regulating technique that can help you optimise your workout and reap numerous benefits besides.
At its simplest, Ujjayi breathing involves inhaling and exhaling through the nose while slightly constricting the back of the throat, creating a soft, audible sound that could be compared to the sound of waves on a seashore. This controlled breathing technique helps maintain a steady flow of oxygen throughout the body during exercise, promoting a sense of focus, calm and mindfulness.
One of the primary advantages of Ujjayi breathing is its ability to improve endurance and stamina. By deepening and lengthening the breath, Ujjayi increases lung capacity and oxygen saturation, providing your muscles with the necessary energy to sustain more extended and challenging routines. At the same time, Ujjayi may help stabilise the cardiovascular system, reducing spikes in heart rate and blood pressure. It can also help to regulate body temperature, preventing overheating during intense workouts.
Beyond the physical benefits, Ujjayi breathing can have a profound impact on mental well-being. It encourages mindfulness and a deeper mind-body connection, encouraging you to stay present and focused throughout your exercise routine – a state of mind you can carry into other areas of your life. This meditative aspect of Ujjayi can reduce stress and anxiety, elevating the overall exercise experience to one of tranquillity and self-awareness.
If you’re unsure how to develop a good Ujjayi technique – a great start would be to sign up to The Yoga Class – as a Karma Member, you can get one month’s FREE membership to these award-winning online yoga classes founded by yoga & Meditation teacher and former model Laura Dodd. Just use code KARMAFIT – and start your Ujjayi yoga and wellness journey with us!