How to Breathe Like a Yogi

If you have ever been to a yoga class, then you have heard and been slightly intimidated by the incredible deep breathing going on in the room. As soon as you walk into the room and begin to unroll your mat, you can hear other students breathing from the other side of the room. If it was a beginner class, your instructor may have given you some brief instructions about how to breathe like a yogi. However, there were probably many other things on your mind, and it may have been confusing. Since you’re probably wondering how to accomplish yogic breath like a pro; this article offers a less time-sensitive approach to learning how to master your Ujjayi (or yogic) breathing.

Ujjayi breathing is done in asana-based yoga. “Asana” is Sanskrit for “pose” or “posture.” Most of western yoga is asana-based yoga, so this is likely the style of breathing you’ve heard in class.

The Ujjayi breath is performed through your nose on both the inhale and exhale. Allow your diaphragm to suck your breath deep down into your belly. Your stomach should stick out while you are breathing this deeply. Place your hands on your lower back and imagine that you are pulling your breath all the way down into your hands, as if you can push your hands with the expansion of your lungs. That sensation will allow for a deep and controlled breath that feels comfortable. Continue this for 3-5 breaths. Once you are comfortable with deep nasal breathing, you can begin to incorporate the more technical aspects.

Imagine you are about to yawn. Imagine that feeling of the roof of your mouth lifting up and backwards. Take a deep breath through your nose –playing around with the positioning of the roof of your mouth– until you can hear your breath in your ears. It should be more of an internal sound than an external sound. If you are still struggling with the internal sound, try imagining that you have nostrils coming out of your cheekbones. It sounds funny, but it might be what makes it work for you. Once you do it correctly you will know! You can sort of feel it in your ears and in your head.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right away! Take your time to find it. It’s like riding a bike; once you learn how to do it you will always know how to do it. The reason the Ujjayi breath is so important in yoga is because it gives you something specific to focus on. Because the Ujjayi breath echoes in your ears, it sort of becomes the music that you move to and determines the rhythm that you move from pose to pose to. It adds an extra element of energy as well. Because you are fully present with the movement of your breath in your lungs; you become one with yourself.

There is no need to be loud externally; you just need to be able to hear yourself. Some people are louder than others and that’s perfectly okay. Play around with your yogic breath and find your own inner rhythm. It is worth the practice!

Food Tips for a Yogi Lifestyle

My Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher passed down his yoga diet wisdom because he felt that this was also an important component to living the true yoga way. He stressed that yoga was a comprehensive state of union with everything, including a positive and healthy relationship with food.


There are two important components to a Yogi diet. First, in an important yoga text, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Patanjali explains several principles in regards to a balanced diet. Second, the Indian health system of Ayurveda developed health wisdom over many centuries. Patanjali’s wisdom along with Ayurvedic principles gives us excellent diet guidelines!

Ayurveda’s main principles:

  • The mind and the body are connected.
  • The mind ultimately is the main factor in changing the body.

Ayurvedic food choices reflect:

  • An Individual’s Body Type, called dosha*
  • Life’s current circumstances and events
  • The season of the year

Sattvic foods: include most vegetables, ghee (clarified butter), fruits, legumes, and whole grains. 

*Individual Body Constitiution(type): Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

I encourage you to find your individual body type according to Ayurveda by taking a quick online test or if you are able visiting an Ayurveda specialist.

Eat and plan meals when you are relaxed.

In our fast paced society, we tend to eat to soothe ourselves. This can be very damaging to our body as we will consume more calories, and unhealthy food and drinks. However, you can learn to maintain a relaxed state of mind through breathing techniques, yoga and being in the present moment, which will naturally lead you to healthier and wiser food choices. Mindful eating, helps you to connect with your body’s diet needs and to become satisfied easier. Other ways to stay connected with a meal are eat while sitting down and avoid watching T.V. while you eat or eating while driving.

Eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day.

The sun hits the earth the strongest in the middle of the day, corresponding to the most amount of heat and digestion in your body. For this reason, Ayurveda teaches that the middle of the day is the ideal time to eat your biggest meal in order to fully digest your meal and get the maximum amount of nutrition in one day.

Ayurveda calls your digestive energy, agni (fire). A strong agni allows you to efficiently make body tissues, eliminate waste products and produce good health as oppose to letting excess food and toxins cause bodily diseases.

Apply the non-harming principle.

Following the Yoga principle of , or non-harming, you should connect with the origins of your food. Who produced this food that you are about to eat and how were the animals treated? Are you eating more meat than you need to? Think about the environment and how your food supports a healthy environment. Eat organic, local, seasonal whole foods whenever possible.

Non-harming also means, not harming yourself. Eat nourishing food, drinks, and teas that protect your organs and your body.

Eat only as much as your body needs

Eat only when you are definitely hungry. One way to accomplish this is by eating at the same time everyday. Your body begins secreting digestive juices even before you eat if you follow a food routine. Have you ever been starving when you ate lunch too late?

Taking your time chewing and tasting the food and noticing with all your senses the food’s properties you will be able to eat slower and eat the perfect amount!

I hope this helps you get ideas on ways to eat like a Yogi. Just remember, no one is perfect, practice unconditional love towards yourself. Slowly over time, strive towards a healthy diet. And if you loved the look above as mush as we do, visit 90degreebyreflex.com to shop the hottest yoga leggings, yoga capris & yoga tanks online!