How to do Ujjayi Breath

The other day we were sitting on the couch eating dinner when the following conversation occurred. I’d like to title the following episode “What it’s like to be married to a yoga teacher”

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Luckily husband has no choice  is a very willing set of ears. In fact, he has probably heard enough yoga jargon to qualify as a yoga teacher himself.

So anyway –

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Ujjayi breath is a breathing technique that is used in many physical yoga practices. It involves slightly constricting the back of the throat to create a soft snoring sound. To create this Ujjayi breath, make the “HARR” sound that you would if you were to clean a mirror using the ‘steam’ from your breath – then recreate that same sensation with the mouth closed – breathing in and out through the nose. (I have demonstrated it here)

The word “Ujjayi” means ‘victorious’ and I suppose the real ‘victory’ of using this breathing technique is the complete mastery it encourages us to have over our breathing. In my interpretation, we become victorious when we have gained that sense of control and mastery over our breathing and therefore become the victor over our minds. (See here).

How to do Ujjayi breath?

  • The slight constriction in the throat, places a bit of stress on the body and the body begins to heat from the inside out. Using this during our practice helps to create heat from within the body, while we create heat externally through the physical movements we do.
  • Ujjayi breathing brings a focus to our yoga practice – it is a breathing technique that requires us to be completely present. It requires concentration to employ and therefore using it, our entire practice becomes a mindful moving meditation.
  • This type of breathing helps increase the oxygenation of the body by forcing us to breath more deeply to fill all parts of the lungs.
  • Focusing on the breath in this way activates the nervous system and creates a steady rhythm for our yoga practice.

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Ujjayi breath is sometimes referred to as “sound breath” in a yoga class – so if a yoga teacher ever says, “and now breathing with sound” you know what to do! It’s an oceanic kind of sound that is created in the back of the throat – me personally? I like to think of it as “DARTH VADER BREATHING” because that’s totally what it sounds like.

I LOVE how all these strange yogi things are slowly slipping into our mainstream “subconscious” – I was watching the Lego Movie (i know) with The Warr a few months ago and when I heard this I literally LOLL’ed with laughter and had to rewind the TV several times to hear it again and again and again.



  1. Siobhan Lumsden on June 8, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Pahahaha. I love this! I was learning about ‘darth vader breathing’ in yoga class at the weekend and now I’m just sitting here ‘darth vader breathing’ to myself 😀 Your yoga journey is SO inspiring Che! One day I will attend one of your classes and I can’t wait! xoxo

    • Ché Dyer on June 9, 2015 at 10:23 am

      haha so glad you are learning about Darth Vader breathing too! 🙂 How funny is that lego Movie sound bite! Morgan Freeman using UJJAYI Breath for the win! So happy that you’ve been feeling so inspired! yay! x

  2. GeeGee on June 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Useful skill – also great for clearing throat before singing or doing a speech too I suppose. Sing, going up 3 notes then do that Ujjayi breath, sing another 3 up, harr, anther 3, harr, then sing all the way down again ( la la la la is fine!) and then – the yucky bit – swallow. It is yucky but great for gently warming up the voice, so I like that this is used for yoga too!!

    • Ché Dyer on June 9, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Ah wow – didn’t know it was used for voice training too! Super interesting! xx

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