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How to Infuse Sound into Yogic Breathing

Sound, which is a form of vibration, is one of the means by which Yoga harmonizes the vibration of your body and mind. In fact, the repetition of special sounds is one of the oldest and most potent techniques of Yoga.

Try this technique in conjunction with conscious breathing. A good way to start is to use the soft-sounding syllables ah, ma, and sa. (This doesn’t mean that you have to chant, although chanting can be a great and useful experience as well.) Sound makes your exhalation longer and also tightens your abdominal muscles.

Try the following exercise while sitting in a chair or on the floor:

  1. Take a deep breath and then, as you exhale, make a longa h sound in a way that you find pleasing and comfortable.

    Continue the same sound for as long as your exhalation lasts. Then take a resting breath in between and repeat the exercise five times.

  2. Relax for a few moments, and then do five repetitions with the sound ma.

  3. Relax again, and conclude by making the sound sa five times.

    After you complete the full cycle, sit quietly for a few minutes and notice how relaxed you feel.

True yogic breathing also includes the throat sound, which forms part of the traditional practice of ujjayi (pronounced ooh-jah-yee), or “victorious” breath control. This more advanced technique is often mistakenly identified as sound breathing. The ujjayi sound is produced with the mouth closed and by breathing through the nose. By slightly constricting the throat during inhalation and exhalation, you produce a soft hissing sound similar to a distant ocean wave.

This technique is easiest to pick up during exhalation; you can then gradually apply it to the inhalation phase. If you’re making the sound properly, you notice a slight contraction of your abdomen.

You want your exhale to be audible to you, but not to someone standing 4 feet away from you. Certainly, don’t strain to the point that you make a grimace! If the throat sound doesn’t happen for you right away, just leave it until later — no need to rush.

This kind of breathing stimulates the energetic center at the throat and is quite relaxing. Some evidence states that it slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and induces a deeper and more restful sleep.

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