Today I will talking through how to practice the Breath of Fire Breathing exercise.
Breathing exercises are a quick and simple way to help enhance your sense of well-being.
These techniques, which are often used in yoga, may be beneficial for both your physical and mental health.
The breathing technique known as Breath of Fire involves passive, normal inhalations and powerful, rapid exhalations.
This style of forced exhalation may help reduce stress, boost brain function, and improve respiratory health – it’s also said to strengthen the abdominal muscles and improve digestion.
In this post, we’ll look more closely at the benefits of Breath of Fire and provide detailed steps for how to do it.
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The Breath of Fire Breathing Exercise – Kundalini Yoga
What Is Breath of Fire?
Breath of fire (Agni Pran in Sanskrit) is a unique breathing exercise in Kundalini yoga that involves forcing air quickly out of the lungs using the diaphragm – the dominant respiratory muscle near the lower ribs and intercostal muscle.
While yogic breathwork exercises typically focus on lengthy deep breathing to promote relaxation, the breath of fire technique aims to energise and excite.
Breath of fire is attributed to the work of Yogi Bhajan, who brought the Kundalini yoga practice to North America in the 1960s.
Breath of fire is closely related to and sometimes used interchangeably with – Kapalbhati or Kapalabhati Pranayama (or skull shining breath), another energising yoga breathing technique that uses passive inhales and forceful exhales.
Reasons to practice Breath of Fire
Although Breath of Fire hasn’t been extensively studied, the below existing research suggests some benefits of the practice.
A 2013 studyTrusted Source found that fast pranayama, including Breath of Fire, decreased stress levels in students.
According to the researchers, fast pranayama may help you feel calmer by reducing activity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS is responsible for your “fight or flight” stress response.
The study also found that fast pranayama may increase activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which regulates your “rest and digest” response.
Supports respiratory function
The study also notes that the short exhales help remove secretions from your airway passages, allowing your lungs to take in more air.
A 2014 studyTrusted Source found that fast pranayama, including Breath of Fire, may enhance brain functions such as memory, reaction time, and attention.
The researchers attributed this benefit to the stress-relieving effect of pranayama. Stress, after all, can make it hard to concentrate. They also noted that focusing on a specific breathing pattern reduces the focus on outside stressors.
And a 2013 studyTrusted Source found that Breath of Fire, when done with eye exercises, can decrease visual reaction time. This may help with concentration, as it improves how quickly you respond to visual stimuli.
In a 2017 studyTrusted Source, students who practiced yoga pranayama experienced higher levels of mindfulness. The pranayama intervention included various techniques, including Breath of Fire.
Practitioners also report that the exercise forces you to be mindful of your breath, which enhances overall mindfulness.
Breath of Fire engages your abdominal muscles, which may help with digestion.
For example, in a 2013 case reportTrusted Source, the technique helped manage gastroesophageal reflux disease in a 62-year-old man. This may be due to its effect on stress, according to the report.
A 2015 study also suggests including Breath of Fire in a yoga practice to help manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. However, more research is needed to support this.
Strengthens abdominal muscles
According to anecdotal reports, Breath of Fire can double as an ab workout.
There haven’t been any studies to support this benefit, but there’s some merit to the claim. The breathing technique involves repeated contractions of your abdominal muscles, which may make them stronger, especially if you do this technique on a regular basis.
Still, more research is needed to confirm this effect.
This breathing technique may be unsafe for some people. You should avoid it if you:
- are pregnant
- have a respiratory infection or disorder
- have a heart condition
- have a spinal disorder
It’s common to feel dizzy or lightheaded while practicing Breath of Fire. But always listen to your body. If you feel uncomfortable, stop and try slow breathing instead.
If you’re new to pranayama, practice Breath of Fire slowly. This will give your body time to get used to the exercise.
How to do Breath of Fire – Kundalini Yoga
Here is a step by step of how to do Breath of Fire:
- Sitting up tall, with a straight spine, hands placed on knees in open palm mudra and your eyes closed, start by feeling your belly expand with each inhale and contract with each exhale.
- Breath of Fire is powered from the navel point (solar plexus) and the diaphragm is used to pump the navel in and out with each exhale and inhale, respectively
- Now that you understand the movements of the diaphragm during breathing, open the mouth and pant like a dog through to understand the diaphragm pattern. Once you have a rhythm, close your mouth and breathe through your nostrils. Now you are doing it!
- Quicken the pace of the inhale and exhale, but keep them equal. There is a quick inhale and quick exhale with no pause between them at the rate of approximately 2-3 cycles per second.
- Begin practicing for 1-3 minutes at a time. When done correctly, your chest will remain relaxed and slightly lifted and your hands, feet, face and abdomen will also be relaxed.
Below is an excellent guided video to practice Breath of Fire:
Please Note: If you feel dizzy, giddy, or light headed, slow down your pace and ensure that both the inhale and exhale are of equal duration.
Breath of Fire should not be done by menstruating or pregnant women, or children younger than 16.
The Breath of Fire Breathing Exercise – Final thoughts
If you want to feel calmer, centred and focused NOW – make Breath of Fire an automatic part of your routine, for 40 days, and you’ll see radical shifts in your mind, body and spirit.
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