Well, darlings, this was one of the first things we went over in our first teacher training weekend.
And I won’t lie to you.
I’ve been doing breath of fire wrong or in the half-ass sort of way that I do things sometimes. I didn’t feel confident in my breath of fire technique nor in helping others do breath of fire properly!
I secretly looked forward to the days that my period would arrive so I had a “yogi reason” not to do breath of fire: That’s right. Women if you are pregnant or menstruating its recommended that you do not do breath of fire.
Why? From what I gather is that there are important and delicate internal processes physically happening in the body of the woman and it is not to her best interest to interrupt those processes in any way. Breath of fire is an intense process.
But all that has changed now! And hopefully this post will change your Breath of Fire experience to if not a pleasurable one to an experience endured with confidence.
Let us being!
Breath of fire is a rapid, continuous and rhythmic breath. The inhale is always equal to the exhale and there is no pause between breaths. It is always done through the nose with the mouth closed.
The focus on breath of fire is on the navel point and solar plexus – this is where the breath will come from and this is the part of the body that moves. It was helpful when I was learning to place my hand on the navel point area to ensure that I was greatly moving that part of my body – we are breathing in and out of the diaphragm.
We are not moving the shoulders up and down nor are we casing great movements in the chest. It is simply moving our diaphragm in and out, using the abdominal muscles to help push out the breath powerfully.
For best results it is best to have a straight spine, and to keep the chest slightly lifted.
To Do Breath of Fire:
1. Lets sit in easy pose (cross-legged on the ground). Lets make our spines straight, and lift up the chest slightly. Lets bring the chin into its lock – pretend you are holding an apple to your chest with the chin.
2. Hands will be on the knees, palms up, fingers making gyan mudra by touching the tips of the index finger and thumbs together.
3. Our eyes are closed and focused at the third eye.
4. Let’s begin breath of fire.
5. If you experience any vertigo or dizziness return to regular deep breathing.
6. After three minutes (or whatever time you’ve chosen) inhale and suspend the breath for ten seconds. Exhale and relax the body, returning to your normal breath.
One should be able to do breath of fire continuously for up to 31 minutes with practice.
Often though people, like me, have challenges. Below are the top two challenges mentioned:
I run out of breath!
This challenge comes from not consciously inhaling and exhaling the same amount of air. When we do inhale and exhale the same amount of air each time we can never run out of breath. It takes some practice to get the hang of this, but after you’ve got it, you’ve got it.
Running out of breath can also be caused by “paradoxical breathing”. This is when we are breathing backwards (guilty!). Instead of on the inhale our diaphragm expanding and on the exhale the diaphragm contracts, we do the opposite. This means that we create less space for the breath.
This can be rectified by practising breath of fire slowly with a hand on the belly and one hand on the chest.
This is an over exaggerated movement of the belly. Breath of Fire is quite subtle, and you will find that when you are doing it in the right way, it is the solar plexus area of the belly that does the pumping motion naturally when we have the breath working properly (see above for instructions).
Benefits of Breath of Fire
Here are my five choices from the Yoga Teacher Training textbook:
- Releases toxins and deposits from the lungs
- Repairs the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
- Strengthens the navel chakra
- Increases oxygen delivery to the brain
- Boosts the immune system
Notes on Breath of Fire
Now that you’ve come close, if not, mastered breath of fire, here are some random notes.
Men and women do breath of fire at different paces. Men do breath of fire faster so don’t be alarmed when you can’t keep up to your male friends/yogis/partners sister! It’s all good.
It can burn away karma.
Breath of Fire can be practised by itself daily, beginning with three minutes and working your way up to 31 minutes. To find a list of many more benefits of Breath of Fire, click here.
Practising the mantra “Sat” on the inahale and “Nam” on the exhale can create powerful effects. Sat Nam means “Truth is My Identity”. When practising this mantra, we are planting that seed of consciousness into our subconscious and changing where we operate from. All mantra’s do this.
For more information on Breath of Fire these two webpages are quite awesome:
Spirit Voyage Instructions
Kundalini Yoga Boot Camp