Pratiloma Ujjayi

Written by: Anupam Raman

This can be a calming, balancing, centering, pranayama technique. It utilizes a combination of alternate nostril breathing and ujjayi. Although this may seem somewhat complicated at first, it is actually quite a simple pattern once you practice it. It is important to keep the breath feeling calm, smooth, and pleasant throughout the practice – the breath should not be forced in any way. Pratiloma ujjayi uses two different breathing techniques, they are used separately in the same exercise, but never at the same time. The student should learn ujjayi first, then when the student feels comfortable with that pranayama technique, I would add this layer of complexity. 

Begin by sitting comfortably with the spine erect, so the lungs are free to move with the inhales and exhales. Feel the natural breath, allowing it to become calm, smooth, and steady. Begin by initiating ujjayi pranayama, the soft feeling of the breath in the throat, creating the oceanic sound. Allow it to remain calm and smooth, with a pleasant feeling, continuing for several breaths. 

Using the right hand, perform mrigi (vishnu) mudra in preparation for alternate nostril breathing. 

Begin the pratiloma ujjayi cycle is as follows – 

  1. Ujjayi – inhale with both nostrils open
  2. Ujjayi- exhale with both nostrils open
  3. Pratiloma – Closing off the right nostril, inhale through the left nostril
  4. Ujjayi – Open both nostrils and exhale
  5. Ujjayi – With both nostrils remaining open, inhale
  6. Pratiloma – Closing off the left nostril, inhale through the right
  7. Pratiloma – Exhale through the right nostril
  8. Ujjayi – Open both nostrils and inhale
  9. Ujjayi – Exhale through both nostrils
  10. Pratiloma – Closing off the right nostril, inhale through the left

This is one round of pratiloma ujjayi, i.e., 4 cycles of breath. Perform six rounds of this. Once complete, then sit still while breathing normally. 

.Benefits of this pranayama technique include – 

  1. Facilitates a longer, slower, calmer breath cycle
  2. Calms and focuses the mind
  3. Can help to balance emotions 
  4. Balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic functions of the autonomic nervous system
  5. Creates a calm and centered feeling 

Contraindications – This technique is contraindicated for anyone with congested or blocked nostrils or sinuses or a sore throat. Discontinue practice If the practice causes any feelings of discomfort or disturbance at any time. Speak with your teacher about this immediately.