Breath of Fire

Definition - What does Breath of Fire mean?

Breath of fire is a type of pranayama used in Kundalini yoga. Also called fast breathing, the purpose is to increase prana in the body.

In breath of fire, the rate of respiration is increased to roughly 100 to 120 breaths per minute, but these are not short, shallow breaths. Instead, the inhalations and exhalations are deep and of equal length.

To begin, take an easy seated position such as padmasana (lotus pose) or vajrasana (thunderbolt pose). After a few minutes, the body and breath will settle into a naturally relaxed state. This is known as quiet breathing. To begin fast breathing, the speed of quiet breathing is increased by deeply inhaling and exhaling fully through the nose or mouth. During the inhale, the diaphragm is pushed out and pulled during the exhale. Fast breathing requires quick movements of the diaphragm which is controlled by the abdominal and chest muscles. Beginners should start with 60 complete breaths per minute, building up to more than 100 breaths per minute.

Yogapedia explains Breath of Fire

Breath of fire has the following benefits:

  • Energizes the mind
  • Increases prana in the body
  • Oxygenates the blood
  • Revitalized cells and removes toxins
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Strengthens the nervous system
  • Clears nasal passages and removes excess mucus

Dizziness and lightheadedness are temporary side effects of fast breathing. When breathing returns to normal, these symptoms subside within a few minutes. Yogis with high blood pressure, heart problems or pregnant yoginis may choose to avoid breath of fire.

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