As we opt to be on a level that is never average, we wander around different fields and tools of increasing health and wellbeing. Being on a journey like that, one can not help but cross the 8 limb path of yoga, also known as the yoga sutras, which form building blocks to all that is yogic. One of those is a practice we call Pranayama.
Pranayama (prana = life-energy, yama = to draw out) are breathing techniques that are said to help clear out physical and mental blockages, so that prana can flow. Even though we see a lot more of the physical practice of yoga here in the west, pranayama is known to be just as fruitful and important in the yogic practice. One of the techniques especially we would like to shine a light on today, is called breath of fire, Kapalbhati in sanskrit. This is not your average breathing technique. It is a tool, a weapon almost, energizing and detoxifying and proven to have a wildly wide range of benefits. Those include:
- Detox on a cellular level.
- Great for your lungs to expand and increase vital strength.
- Balances out the nervous system to become more stress resistant.
- Strengthens the navel chakra, also known as the solar plexus, which is said to rule confidence, creativity, and personal identity.
- Because you increase the oxygen being breathed in, it increases physical endurance and prepares you to act effectively. On a mental level, this helps you stay focussed with a neutral state of mind.
- Reduces addictive impulses.
- Promotes synchronization of the biorhythms of the body’s systems.
House of Yoga
Pretty impressive, right? Now that we have your attention, let's put this into practice, shall we. Little less talk, little more breathing. The House of Yoga was so kind to share one of their video's on Kapalabhati for every one of us, including non-members of their online community. This will be available to us until the next Newsletter comes out, so get it while it's hot.
The House of Yoga is a beautiful platform if you want to begin, build or maintain your practice of yoga, meditation and breathing techniques. It can be hard to come by a reliable online source of mindfulness and movement, and the jungles of the world wide web can be pretty overwhelming. House of Yoga serves a nice anchor amidst it all. If you would like to become part of their online community, find more info about their special offer here.
To have a summary of what the technique involves, we put everything in detail again below. Here is one more overview before you start practicing.
- Breath of Fire is rapid, rhythmic, and continuous. It is equal on the inhale and the exhale, with no pause between them (approximately 2-3 cycles per second).
- It is always practiced through the nostrils with the mouth closed, unless stated otherwise.
- Breath of Fire is powered from the navel point and solar plexus. To exhale, the air is expelled powerfully through the nose, by contracting abdominals inwards, towards the navel point and solar plexus back toward the spine. This feels automatic if you contract the diaphragm rapidly.
- To inhale, the upper abdominal muscles relax, the diaphragm extends down, and the breath seems to come in as part of relaxation rather than through effort.
- The chest stays relaxed and slightly lifted throughout the breathing cycle.
- When done correctly, there should be no rigidity of hands, feet, face, or
- Begin practicing Breath of Fire for a duration of 1-3 minutes. Some people find it easy to do Breath of Fire for a full 10 minutes right away. Others find that the breath creates an initial dizziness or giddiness. If this happens, take a break.
- Some tingling, traveling sensations and lightheadedness are completely normal as your body adjusts to the new breath and new stimulation of the nerves.
- These sensations quickly ebb away when at the end of your breathing sesh, you let the air come in naturally, hold your breath for a few seconds at the top of your inhale (this usually feels really nice), and then relax and let your normal breath flow.
PS There are restrictions for doing Breath of Fire while pregnant and menstruating!