Pratiloma ujjayi

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Ujjayi meaning 'victorious' is an integral type of Pranayama, breathing exercise, used in yoga. It is often called the psychic breath because of its effects on the mind state. Pranayama techniques should be studied with a qualified teacher to ensure correct practice.

Simple Ujjayi is achieved by consciously restricting the flow of air through the larynx producing a 'just audiable' snoring sound, like whispering with the mouth closed or breathing through a straw. Although a valuable practice in its own right there are several variations, one of which is Pratiloma Ujjayi.

Pratiloma Ujjayi utilises alternate nostril breathing and Ujjayi in a way that balances and centres the body/mind and extends the length of the breath. In this description there is no breath retention. Retention is a more advanced stage and again should be studied with a qualified teacher.

The body should be steady, shoulders back, relaxed and away from the ears, the back and neck long, this opens the chest to allow unrestricted breathing.

Left hand in Jnana mudra and right hand in Vishnu or Mrgi mudra. The right hand is taken to the nose and the thumb used to block the right nostril and the ring finger to block the left.


Ujjayi is practiced with both nostrils open, when one is blocked breathe normally, the restriction of flow is enough with a closed nostril without adding Ujjayi.

  1. Breathe in through both nostrils*.
  2. Close right nostril with right thumb, breathe out through left nostril.
  3. Keeping the right nostril closed, breathe in through the left nostril.
  4. Release thumb, breathe out through both nostrils*.
  5. Breathe in through both nostrils*.
  6. Close left nostril with ring finger, breathe out through right nostril.
  7. Keeping the left nostril closed, breathe in through the right nostril.
  8. Release ring finger, breathe out through both nostrils*.

The use of Ujjayi is denoted by*.

1–8 constitutes one round and the practitioner should allow the length of the breath to be natural and not forced in any way. The number of rounds and the length of the breath should be kept simple and within one's own capabilities; count the breath length at rest and stick to that at the beginning and start with four rounds building up to twelve. Like all techniques, mastery comes with time and practice.

Pratiloma is described as going against the flow and will affect the body; care should be taken. Those with breathing issues such as asthma should seek medical advice and the guidance of a qualified teacher.


  • Desikachar T.K.V. 1999. The heart of Yoga Inner traditions international.
  • Iyengar B.K.S 1976. Light on Yoga Unwin paperbacks.
  • Swami Muktibodhananda. 2005. Hatha Yoga Pradipika Yoga publications trust.

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