Each inhale and exhale during the practice of Ashtanga Yoga’s sequences of postures is performed with a deep, resonant sound created at the back of the throat. This is called “Ujaiyi Breathing” and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois describes this method of inhaling and exhaling as “breathing with sound”.
The Breathe is the Key
Attention to the breath is an essential technique in the Ashtanga Yoga method. Sri K. Patthabi Jois’s almost ubiquituous response to complaints of injury, pain and lack of progress is: “breathing not correct”.
Air enters and exits through your nose. If you have to gasp for air with your mouth open during practice, you have pushed beyond your limits. The air flow is regulated at the back of your throat, and causes the characteristic sound of Ujaiyi breathing, which is like the sound of the ‘ocean’ when you put a seashell next to your ear.
Each inhale and exhale should be of equal duration and quality. There should be no ‘breath-holding’ or momentary stopping of the breath during exertion. Your breath is your guide during practice.