Transform Your Day With Breath of Fire
One of the most powerful parts (if not THE most powerful part) of yoga is the breath. The breath is everything. We use our breath to center ourselves and connect to our body.
In yoga, breathing techniques are also referred to as “pranayama”. If you break it down, “prana” in Sanskrit means life force. So by playing around with our breath, we are moving our life force/energy around in different ways.
One of my personal favorite pranayama techniques is the “Breath of Fire”, otherwise known as Kapalabhati breath. (Yeah, I didn’t know how to pronounce it at first, either. Try this out loud: Kah-bah-lah-bah-tee.)
I’ve found that it’s the quickest way to quickly shake up lethargic, stagnant energy. It does this by generating heat, or in yogi terms: by stoking the agni (the fire) in your system. It only takes a few seconds of breathing this way to feel fresh, rejuvenated, and fully energized.
And here’s a fun bonus: Since Breath of Fire activates the agni in your stomach, it helps your digestion! I include this breathing technique a lot in my “Detox Yoga” and “Yoga for Digestion” themed classes.
Important note: If you have sinus congestion or high blood pressure, please refrain from Kapalabhati breathing technique. There will be other pranayama practices you can try that we’ll get into at a later date!
- Find a comfortable seat. For most of us, it helps support our back if we sit on a block or blanket. Make sure your spine is tall and straight.
- Close your eyes and start to notice your natural breath.
- Bring your hands to your belly to begin. Take a long deep inhale, and then exhale all of your air out.
- Keep your mouth closed and start to breathe very rapidly out of your nose. Feel your belly move in and out.
- Focus on the exhale; the inhale will happen naturally. Push all the air out quickly. Begin to increase the tempo, but keep it at a steady pace.
- After about 30 seconds, start to slow down the pace of your breath until you’re breathing normally.
- Sit for a few moments and notice how you feel in comparison to how you started the practice. Feel the prana (energy) moving throughout your body. Notice your heartbeat. Gently open your eyes.
- Try another round. But don’t get carried away! Especially if you’re new to the practice, start small. Two rounds is plenty for now. You can slowly work your way up to more as you continue your pranamaya practice.
This has become an integral part of my daily morning routine, and it’s also great for anytime during the day when you need a quick pick-up.
Some of the benefits of Kapalabhati breathing as cited by the Center for Advanced Ayurveda & Research:
Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.
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