Increasing Agni in your Yoga Class: Ujjayi Pranayama

Increasing Agni in your Yoga Class: Ujjayi Pranayama

500 hour yoga alliance certification courseBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

As the aliveness of nature begins to quicken and expand with each passing day, many of us feel the visceral longing for expansion and heightened energy within our own bodies. As the delicate, spring-green leaves begin to unfurl and stretch towards the abundant sunshine, many Yogis and Yoginis also want to stretch and bask in the warmth and energy that surrounds us during this season and increase their own life force energy. As a Yoga instructor, you may find that increasing the fire and energy in your classes, known as “agni” in the Yoga Sutras, will resonate well with the increasing warmth, energy and light of the springtime.

A sure fire way to increase the internal pranic energy experienced by your Yoga students during class is to incorporate Ujjayi Pranayama into the asana practice. Ujjayi Pranayama is a traditional diaphragmatic breathing exercise that is often used during vinyasa-based classes. Some Yoga practitioners liken the sound of this breath to the roar of the ocean in a conch shell. The sound is created by partially closing the back of the throat when inhaling and exhaling. The resistance that is created helps to balance the inhale and exhale, while simultaneously creating heat and energy in the body. Practicing Ujjayi Pranayama also helps to ground and focus the mind during asana practice.

* Ujjayi Pranayama

Many intermediate Yoga students will already know how to do Ujjayi Pranayama and will not need formal instruction. However, even at an advanced level, most students will appreciate verbal breathing cues as they move in and out of the Yoga postures. If you are teaching a beginning flow Yoga class, it is recommended that you take five or ten minutes at the beginning of class to teach your students the proper technique for practicing Ujjayi breathing. To begin the instruction of Ujjayi Pranayama, have your students sit in Easy Seat on their Yoga mats while you demonstrate a few rounds of Ujjayi breathing.


Begin your instruction of Ujjayi Pranayama by asking your Yoga students to take a few complete breaths, and then partially close the back of their throats, as they inhale and exhale, in order to create some resistance. Their breathing should be audible, but not strained. Practice five rounds of Ujjayi Pranayama with your students before moving onto asana practice. If your students consistently and correctly practice this breathing technique during class, the effectiveness of the postures will be substantially magnified. Their internal experience of energy or prana will also perceptibly increase, bringing with it a feeling of lightness, energy, peace, and well-being.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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