Everyone is doing the yoga Breath Of Fire yoga meditation technique (a.k.a Kapalbhati / Skull Luster). It is one of the best meditations used in yoga.
At a time when both yoga and meditation are taking the world by storm, this thousands-of-years-old meditation technique has suddenly become immensely popular. And it is easy to see why.
There are many benefits of Breath of Fire yoga. It helps to relieve stress, improve brain function, and improve respiratory healing. It is a powerful breathing exercise that is relatively easy to do even for newcomers. It involves inhaling normally and exhaling rapidly.
You can combine this technique with one of the traditional kinds of yoga for a complete mind-body healing session. You will feel fantastic afterwards.
Let’s look at what Breath Of Fire yoga is, the benefits, and how to do it properly. And you will probably want to read my list of the best yoga breathing exercises for beginners, too!
What Is Breath Of Fire Yoga Meditation?
Breath Of Fire yoga is one of the most popular breathing meditations in 2021. It is a form of pranayama (breath control), which is one of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. It also goes by the names “Skull Shining Breath”, “Agni Pran”, and Kapalbhati pranayama (Sanskrit meaning “skull illuminating”) and is one of the exercises of Kundalini Yoga., which Yogi Bhajan brought to the West in the 1970s. Kundalini yoga includes physical exercises (asanas), breathing, chanting and singing (usually of mantras).
There are many benefits of Breath of Fire Yoga. You can use it to reduce chronic pain, improve mental health, and increase core strength. Plus, it is said to strengthen the physical aura to help to protect us from negative energy.
But a warning:
As a meditation teacher, I frequently teach Breath of Fire meditation. And many of my students tell me that they sometimes feel light-headed doing this method (at which point I advise them to stop and go gently with it). This light-headedness is one of the side effects of the technique. So be mindful and keep an eye out for any adverse side effects. If you experience side effects, stop.
How to Do Breath Of Fire Meditation Properly
Guys, here’s the deal: The first time you do this exercise, your abs may ache a little, and you might feel light-headed. You know what that means: Go slow and take it easy, my friends.
Start by practising Breath of Fire Meditation for just 30 seconds. Then build it up over time.
- Sit with crossed legs. You can use Lotus Position if you like. Make sure your spine is straight but relaxed. Roll your shoulders back then open them out a little, which will open your chest area making it easier to breathe. You want to create good space between your navel and your heart.
- Close your eyes and mouth.
- Place one hand palm-down on your upper thigh. Place the other and on your abdomen so you can feel your breath moving. The breathing technique of Breath of Fire Yoga is powered from the solar plexus and navel. When you exhale, forcefully push the air out of your nose by contracting the navel and solar plexus towards the spine. This will cause the diaphragm to contract, forcing air out of the nose.
- Mindfully observe the air flowing out of you as you exhale, pressing your abdomen in. Once you are more comfortable with the technique you will be able to practice it while holding your hands in Gyan Mudra.
- Inhale by releasing the contraction of the solar plexus and navel. This will cause your abdominal muscles to relax. Your diaphragm will then extend downwards as air enters through your nose. When you inhale, imagine that your diaphragm is like a balloon filling with air.
- Gradually increase your speed. Your breath will be loud and fast. You want to aim to make your inhales and exhales last the same amount of time, so you’re establishing a rhythm. You should aim for around three breaths per minute, but make sure that the breath is controlled and that you’re not hyperventilating.
- Once you’ve finished, continue to meditate but relax and stop forcing your inhales and exhales. Let the breath come and go naturally (like you do when practising Anapanasati).
- Note that to practice Breath of Fire Meditation properly you should keep your chest, arms, hands, legs, and feet relaxed at all times.
- When you are just starting Breath of Fire Meditation, aim for around one minute and then gradually increase to three minutes. At advanced stages, you will be able to practice Breath of Fire meditation for up to ten minutes at a time.
So that’s how to do Breath Of Fire yoga. Now let me share with you some of my favourite tips so you can make sure you’re doing it correctly.
Tips for Breath of Fire Meditation
Now you know how to do Breath Of Fire yoga properly, here are a few helpful tips and pointers:
When you’re taking breaths, aim to make inhales and exhales the same length and do not pause between them.
Make sure that you are always breathing through the nostrils rather than through the mouth.
You can make kapalbhati pranamaya more effective by exhaling until the point where you can feel energy rising naturally in your stomach. Let this energy take over as you naturally take a big inhale. You will still feel energised, but it will be a more natural energy that is causing the inhalation.
Avoid paradoxical breathing. Some people pull the belly in when they inhale. This leads to there being less space for your diaphragm to move, so you will not be able to take in as much air. Place your hand on your abdomen and check that your belly moves out when you inhale.
Do not exaggerate the pumping of your belly. This is not Bellow Breath.
Be careful if you ever practice this technique when you have sinus issues. If you have any kind of respiratory problem (like asthma), make sure you consult a healthcare professional before starting.
If you notice that you are making funny facial expressions (such as squinting) or that there is tension in your body (such as clenched fists) you are not performing Breath of Fire meditation correctly. Stop. Relax. Now try again with more ease.
You will probably want to practice Breath of Fire for more than 3 minutes. This is a mistake a lot of beginners make. As you probably know, most meditations last twenty minutes or longer, but this one is different. It is a short and intense practice and should not be done for long periods. Once you have practised the method a few times, you can go for a little bit longer, but don’t exceed 10 minutes.
If you are not used to doing deep-breathing exercises, you may experience minor side-effects of kapalbhati pranayama. You might experience mild dizziness or light-headedness. This is normal. It is only because you are not used to taking in so much breath. If you do start to experience more severe side-effects, stop immediately and switch to a more relaxed, easier meditation technique.
Make sure you are equally mindful of both inhalations and exhalations. Some people focus more on the inhale. However, to practice Breath of Fire Yoga properly you should be equally conscious of inhales and exhales.
Contraindications (people who should not use this exercise):
- Respiratory infections
- Cardiac problems
- Spinal disorders
- Pregnant women
Breath of fire Yoga Meditation Benefits
Breath Of Fire meditation is one of the best ways of using yoga to build positive energy. It clears your mind and relaxes you. And it also gets a lot deeper than that.
One of the most amazing things about Kapalbhati pranayama is that it strengthens both your mind and your body at the same time.
The International Journal Of Medical & Pharmaceutical Sciences conducted a study in which they asked young and healthy participants to practice Kapalbhati pranayama for 12 weeks, starting with 30 times for one minute a day, and gradually increasing.
The researchers concluded that “12 weeks of Kapalabhati pranayama training showed improvement in the cardio-respiratory parameters with a significant decrease in [respiratory rate].
“[These benefits] may be attributed to a calm and stable mind-emotion complex in our subjects. Hence, we conclude that pranayama training is useful in reducing [respiratory rate] through psychosomatic mechanisms.
“In turn, this enhances the health and well being of young subjects.”
They also state that Breath of Fire Yoga reduces sympathetic nervous system activity to reduce the “fight or flight” response and may increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.
More benefits of breath of fire yoga
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research shows that the breathing exercises the respiratory system, strengthening the lungs and diaphragm. By strengthening the diaphragm, it also helps to reduce muscles cramps that can occur in the bronchial tubes.
Research published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research in 2014 shows that pranayama (yoga breathing exercises) may help memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions.
A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that people who practice Breath of Fire meditation have higher levels of mindfulness.
Breath of Fire meditation calms the mind:
When you breathe properly you are naturally more relaxed, right? Well, by regularly practising Breath Of Fire Yoga you will cleanse your lungs and diaphragm. In turn, this will make your breathing easier and more relaxing. In turn, your mind will naturally calm.
When you practice Kapalabahti pranayama you exercise your abdomen rigorously. Hello, Six Pack. One study published in 2017 in the International Journal of Yoga found that Breath of Fire Meditation could even help treat gastroesophageal reflux disease [source].
It helps circulate blood around your body more efficiently, and this removes toxins, helping your body to detoxify.
By eliminating toxins and relaxing both the mind and body, Breath of Fire meditation reduces pain and soothes your aching muscles. This can help with chronic pain, and it can also help you to relax after a workout if you have strains.
Research shows that regular practice of Breath of Fire meditation helps reduce negative emotions, lowers stress, and fights anxiety and depression. You can really feel the emotional release when you practice Kapalbhati pranayama.
Forget brain training, Kapalbhati pranayama will strengthen your cognitive function in just a few weeks. The increased blood flow to the brain helps your neurons to stay active, boosting cognitive functioning.
Try Breath of Fire Yoga for 3 minutes now, if you haven’t yet.
Notice how you feel energised but relaxed? Notice that strong feeling in your abdomen, and that inner strength in your mind? That’s what this exercise is all about.