Ujjayi breathing (in Sanskrit: the triumphant breathing) is a classical technique of Pranayama in which the breaths pass across the rear of the throat with a hiss. Used through the Ashtanga yoga method, it keeps the practitioner's breathing steady and controllable; it draws the attention of your mind inward, enabling meditation in movement.
Mula bandha (in Sanskrit: the lock of the root) is a classical Hatha yoga practice performed to raise energy. Still, most Yoga schools don't make use of it during the practice of the postures. Mula bandha technique draws the responsiveness to the nucleus of the body, escalating and drawing the energy upward from the bottom of the spine.
Uddiyana bandha (in Sanskrit: the upward lock) works almost mechanically as a secondary effect of a stronger mula bandha. The lower abdomen, below the navel, withdraws inward, making the belly firmer and draws the breath further up to extend the rib cage, the chest and the lungs. Still, the diaphragm does not harden at all, but keeps on moving freely. Later in time, uddiyana bandha truly helps amplify the capacity of the lungs.
All three of those techniques - mula bandha, uddiyana bandha and ujjayi breathing - should be practiced repeatedly through the Ashtanga yoga method: in itself a demanding exercise in awareness. K. Pattabhi Jois' favorite slogan is "Ashtanga yoga method is 99% practice, 1% theory." David Williams, an Ashtanga yoga method master from the island of Maui (Hawaii), says, "Before you start practicing, this theory is futile. After you have practiced, this theory is evident."
When the ujjayi breathing is established and both Ashtanga yoga bandhas are engaged, you'll start a succession of so-called Salutations to the Sun in order to warm up your body. One of the essential principles of Ashtanga yoga method is heat ("tapas" in Sanskrit): the practitioners should sweat as much as possible. Ashtanga yoga studios are basically kept very hot, and the continuing flow of challenging postures guarantees prolific perspiration. The heat releases the muscles, helping avoid injuries and making it a lot easier to soften the bodies of the practitioners to dissolve naturally into the required postures. The high temperatures and cleansing are intended to exaggerate the internal spiritual fire that burns through unawareness and apparition, eventually consuming the human ego in its victorious flames.
Once the standing postures are fulfilled, you will be adequately warmed up in order to initiate the sequences that are unique to every series. Even though each sequence comprises a reasonable workout, every posture has a particular spotlight. The thirty postures of the first series, for instance, concentrate principally on bending forward, while the second series emphasize deep bends backwards, Ashtanga yoga drishtis, postures like "foot behind the head", and approximately seven variants of the headstanding. Every succession ends with the same cooling sequence of the finishing postures.