As a celebration of Star Wars Day, May the 4th (be with you… 😏), I want to share one of the most ubiquitous and helpful breathing techniques us yogis have in our arsenal.
Darth Vader breath, sometimes known as ocean breath or by the sankrit ujjayi pranayama (victorious breath), is basically the foundation of every yoga class; before movement, we breathe. And it actually acts as a tool to keep us focussed, grounded, helps to reduce tension and stress and foster an overall sense of calm, even when you feel like you can’t hold plank pose a second longer.
Within a vinyasa class (where we link breath to movement, as in most of our classes here at TYR), Darth Vader breath allows us to really hone in on connecting mind and body. Ujjayi or not, try this right now: when you breathe in, feel extension, and when you breathe out, feel a softening. It’s that sort of extension of diaphragmatic movement and slight breath control that leads to one of the best outcomes of practicing yoga: feeling better.
Here’s how to do it:
- Breathe in through the nose, letting your belly and ribcage expand, and take an exhale through your mouth as if you’re trying to fog up a mirror in front of you, belly and ribcage contract. You make that Vader sound, right?
- Breathe in and do that again, making the same Vader sound, but with your mouth closed.
- Then, try to make the same sound on your inhale, too.
So, the Star Wars name for this breath and the reference to the ocean actually comes from the sound we make when we breathe this way. It’s a slight constriction of the throat, so if it feels weird at first, just keep practicing. And no, you don’t have to be a yogi or be in class to breathe this way. Stuck in traffic? Darth Vader. Frustrated with the kids? Darth Vader. Tesco run out of your favourite Ben & Jerry’s flavour? Yeah, you got it: breathe like Vader.