Breath of Fire is a cornerstone of many yoga practices, and an important yogic breathing technique (pranayam) to learn, practice, and master. Breath of Fire can be tricky at first, however a few basic pointers will get you on your way to mastering Breath of Fire.
What is Breath of Fire?
Breath of Fire is a powerful yogic breathing technique (pranayam) used in Kundalini yoga and many other traditions. Breath of Fire is a rhythmic breath with equal inhale and exhalations with no pause in between. Once mastered, Breath of Fire is done in 2-3 cycles per second for up to 31 minutes or as directed. This information on Breath of Fire is as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini yoga master and creator of 3HO.
11 Reasons to do Breath of Fire
According to Ancient Yogic Science, Breath of Fire has incredible health benefits. You will feel many benefits over time with regular practice. Here are just a few of the benefits according to ancient yogic teachings:
- releases toxins from your lungs, blood vessels, and cells throughout your body
- expands your lung capacity
- reduces stress naturally
- strengthens your nervous system
- rebalances your sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system
- reduces addictive cravings
- energizes you without stimulants (coffee, energy drinks)
- adjusts your electromagnetic field (aura)
- increases oxygen delivery to the brain and organs
- boosts your immune system
- increases synchronization of your body’s natural biorhythms
How to Do Breath of Fire
Your posture is critical to successfully practicing Breath of Fire. Begin by sitting up with a straight spine. You may be cross legged on the floor (easy pose) or seated in a chair with your back. Your hands may be in prayer pose, gyan mudra, or resting in your lap.
- Sit up with a straight spine (cross-legged easy pose on floor or in a chair with spine away from back of chair)
- Close your eyes almost all the way (9/10ths closes)
- Focus on the space between your eyebrows, the third eye or brow point
- The pace is like a panting dog, except Breath of Fire is done through the nose
- The inhale and exhale are equal in time
- Begin slowly, one breath cycle per second for 1-3 minutes. Slowly build up to 10 minutes or more.
Caution! Women who are pregnant or on the first three days of their menstrual cycle should substitute long deep breathing for Breath of Fire. Do not attempt Breath of Fire is you are pregnant or early in your menstrual cycle. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy simply stop, take a couple normal breaths and slowly begin again. Your nervous system may need to adjust to the extra energy or you may be releasing toxins.
The power of the breath comes from the navel and solar plexus
On the exhale, pull the navel in and up
Relax the navel and inhale happens passively
Common Mistakes Beginners Make
Breath of Fire is not hyperventilation
Breath of Fire is not bellows breathing (excessive pumping of the stomach)
Not keeping the exhale and inhale the same time duration
When to Do Breath of Fire?
Breath of Fire is called for during many yoga exercises and yogic breathing series. It can also be done on its own as a separate practice. The best time to do any yoga practice is early, before the sun rises. If that is just not going to happen, then the best time to practice yoga is anytime you can take a time out for yourself.
Begin with 1-3 minutes per session and build up slowly from there. Please leave a comment and let us know what your experience has been with Breath of Fire. Remember, begin slowly and then build up your practice once you have comfortably mastered the breath.
Caution! Women who are pregnant or on the first three days of their menstrual cycle should substitute long deep breathing for Breath of Fire. Do not attempt Breath of Fire is you are pregnant or early in your menstrual cycle.