This breathing technique is usually used during yoga practice, especially if you have to move through a series of poses. You should be able to feel the cool air entering through your nose and into the back of your throat, generating a gentle hissing sound. Similarly, as you exhale, air passes through the back of your throat. The sound is created when you constrict the opening of your throat as you inhale and exhale. It will naturally lengthen and smoothen your breaths.
How to start practicing this breathing technique?
Begin with an easy seated posture and rest your palms on your knees - Sukhasana ("Easy Pose")
Gently close your eyes and take a moment to focus on your breathing
(Inhale) Feel the air entering through your nose, constrict your throat and push the air through the back of your throat
(Exhale) Feel the air escaping from your lungs, as you maintain the constriction of your throat, air travels through the back of your throat before escaping from the nose
It may take a while to grasp this breathing technique, therefore remember to be kind to yourself and take the time you need. Below are some common difficulties you might come across:
"There is no gentle hissing sound created as I inhale/exhale." Try slowing down your breath and focus on the constriction of your throat
"I feel like coughing/choking when I tried to create the gentle hissing sound." Again, take slow and gentle breaths. Try to lengthen your breath and keep it smooth
Be patient with yourself as you try to get comfortable with the Ujjayi Pranayama. Once you can do it smoothly, you can incorporate it into your yoga practice for poses that are not too strenuous such as Adho Mukha Shvanasana ("Downward Dog").