Pranayama: Ujjayi Pranayama and Khechari Mudra

Most techniques based on tantric yoga utilize a pranayama practice called ujjayi, supple-mented by a tongue lock called khechari mudra. Though extremely simple to perform, this combination contributes a lot to the efficacy of meditational techniques. For this reason we are explaining them to you at an early stage in this book.

Furthermore, ujjayi pranayama and khechari mudra can be immediately incorporated into the meditational techniques of anuloma viloma and prana shuddhi.

UJJAYI PRANAYAMA (THE PSYCHIC BREATH)

This is a unique form of pranayama in which one makes a hissing or whispering sound in the region of the throat. It is far easier to do than to describe.

Technique

Sit in any comfortable position. Any position can be taken but a meditational asana is preferred2. Fold the tongue into khechari mudra. Close the eyes. Relax the body, holding the neck and head upright. Breathe slowly and deeply. Partially close the glottis in the throat. This is done by slightly contracting the throat. If this is done properly you will simultaneously detect a slight contraction of the abdomen. We are a little reticent about writing this fact down for it is so easy for the practitioner to misunderstand and make a special point of contracting the abdominal muscles. This should not be done. If you merely contract the glottis you will automatically feel a slight pulling sensation in the region of the abdomen. As you breathe you should hear a continuous sound emitted from the throat. It should not be very loud, audible to yourself but inaudible to another person unless he sits very close to you. This sound is caused by the friction of the air as it passes through the restriction that you have made in the glottis by contraction. The sound will be similar to the gentle sound that a baby makes while sleeping. This form of breathing, together with khechari mudra, is known as ujjayi pranayama.

General advice

It is possible that the reader is still not sure that he is doing this practice correctly. A similar contraction of the throat is obtained if you whisper aloud. Try to whisper loud enough so that a person can hear you a few meters away. This should help indicate the method of contracting the glottis. However, this is only intended as an illustration and whispering should not be incorporated into ujjayi pranayama.

Mistakes to avoid

Many people contort their facial muscles when they do ujjayi. This is unnecessary. Try to relax the face as much as possible.

Do not over-contract the throat. The contraction should be slight and applied continuously throughout the practice.

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