Breath of Fire is one of the staple breathing exercise in Kundalini yoga. It’s a rapid breath (usually 2-3 breaths per second) through the nose. It is a continuous breathing exercise that involves the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles. Just as in long deep breathing, on the the inhale you expand your belly as you fill it with air. On the exhale, powerfully release the air and pull your navel back towards the spine. There is no pause between the inhale and the exhale.
Even though this breath is a completely balanced breath between inhale and exhale, it’s useful to put your hand on your belly for the first few times that you practice it and focus on the exhale. The powerful exhale and pulling in of the navel creates an automatic vacuum that gets filled again on the inhale. Start slow. It’s important to get the pattern right before going too fast. I liken the breath’s sound to a train leaving the station. It starts slow and then picks up steam.
Inhale through the nose – belly expands
Exhale through the nose – belly pulls back into spine
The goal is not to hyperventilate. Breath of fire is about filling the navel with air while hyperventilation is all about the upper chest. Be sure to allow the flow of air to come down into the navel.
At first you might feel lightheaded, tingly or dizzy. Fear not, the breath is a cleansing one and tends to release toxins into the bloodstream quite quickly. This side effect will subside promptly with practice.
Here’s why the Breath of Fire is so powerful:
- It Energizes – a great pick me up!
- Cleanses the blood, the lining of the lungs and all the cells
- Strengthens the nervous system
- Rejuvenates the brains neurons through increased delivery of oxygen
- Expands the lungs capacities
- Adding this to any yoga posture brings on desired results in a fraction of the time it normally would take
- Helps keep you focused during challenging postures – breath of fire is such a powerful breath that it overpowers many difficult poses
Here’s a great practice pose called Ego Eradicator:
Sit in easy pose (any cross legged position). Raise your arms above your head to 60 degrees with your fingers pressed down into your palms and your thumbs pointed out towards one another over the head. You should have a wide V shape above your head. Sit completely straight, spine tall, neck in a slight lock and begin breath of fire. Keep the arms strong and locked in position. Work your way up to 2-3 minutes. When finished inhale deeply, suspend your breath and bring the thumbs together so that they touch over the head. On the exhale release your hands slowly back down to your knees.
As advertised, it busts through the ego, energizes and detoxes all in one.
Enjoy your practice!