BREATH OF FIRE
by MSS Gurucharan Singh Fowlis
from the Kundalini Meditation Manual for Intermediate Students
Meditation for : Relaxation Creativity Guidance
from the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan
This is one of the basic breaths used in Kundalini Yoga. It must be practiced and mastered in the initial stages of yogic study. The breathis fairly rapid (2 to 3 breaths per second), continuous, and powerful with no pause between the inhale and exhale.
As you exhale, the air is pushed out by pulling the navel point and abdomen in towards the spine. In this motion, the chest area stays moderately relaxed. The focus of the energy is at the navel point. You should fee! the pull of the muscles in that area. Asyou inhale, the abdomen relaxes, the diaphragm extends down; and the breath seems to come in as pert of relaxation rather than effort.
The muscles that are used are the abdominals. Initially you may have a tendency to involve more muscle groups than are needed. As you do the breath of fire, check your body and relax tension and effort that may build up in the legs, face, shoulders, and chest. The rest of the body is relatively still. Even the upper chest is motionless and in a slightly uplifted position. At first, the navel and solar plexus may feel tired or uncoordinated. If you keep practicing, the breath will become rhythmic and very easy. Most people are not used to breathing this way. It is the antithesis of the shallow, irregular breath characteristic of the emotional states that accompany negative thoughts.
The breath of fire cleanses the blood. It is commonly used whenever there is a blood-related disease in the body such as arthritis, bursitis, circulatory problems,etc. It raises the voltage of the nervous system and produces a global alpha rhythm in the brain when practiced correctly. A person with shaky nerves or an athlete that needs extra endurance will benefit greatly from this practice. Since the navel point is stimulated directly, the breath generates constancy in the mental and physical realms. Breath of fire can help you if you cannot keep a promise, intention, or train of thought without constant distraction.
In physiological studies, we have found that there is no relation between hyperventilation and breath of fire. Once you are practiced, it is possible to do this breath for 20 minutes or more. There is no accompanying dizziness or large imbalance of oxygen in the blood. The outer circulation does increase as does the nervous energy so the breath should be mastered slowly and methodically. These increases cause an immediate detoxification reaction in the body. Old toxins and deposits from drugs, smoking, and bad nutrition are released from the lungs, mucous lining, blood vessels, and cells. These toxins leave the body through the blood and lymph systems.
If you are very toxic, the breath of fire may stimulate a very temporary self-toxification. To aid the cleansing process, increase the amount of exercise you do each day and simplify the diet to light vegetables, fruits, and nuts for a few weeks. This will help your body drop the heavy load of toxins it has carried without activating some sickness to do the cleansing you ignored.
Regular practice expands the capacity of the lungs quickly. If you are expanding the lungs and want to increase the amountof time you can comfortably suspend breathing, such as in underwater swimming or in certain meditation exercises, then practicethe breath of fire before trying to hold the breath longer. Just holding the breath for longer periods does not increase yourbasic capacity, and may sometimescause complicationswith blood pressure.
In most exercises, the breath of fire is done for three minutes orless. Occasionally it is done for seven and a half minutes. Asan exercise byitself, you can start with three minute durations, then slowly build up to 20 minutes. Start by doing breath of fire for three minutes alternating with two minutes of rest for a total of 15 minutes of breath of fire and ten minutes rest.
To focus the mind more efficiently and to channelize the energy this breath creates, mentally vibrate“SAT NAM“with each breath. Hearing this sound in the breath tells your mind what to do with all the energy you generate. Use this energy to explore your sense of the infinite self.
When you practice the breath of fire to perfect it, keep the spine straight and your mind centered. Here are a couple exercises you might try:
1. When you are exceptionally tired and need a lift, sit straight and block the left nostril with the thumb of the left hand. The fingers of the left hand point straight up. Begin breath of fire through the right nostril only, for 3 to 5 minutes. Then inhale and mentally circulate the energy throughout the body and aura. 6 minutes. Then inhale, hold briefly, exhale applying Mulabhanda, and relax.
2. Sit in easy pose. Put the palms together slightly in front of the chest. Concentrate at the brow point and begin breath cf fire. As you continue, let all thoughts of who or what you may be fall away. If you think you are sitting, let that thought be blown away by the breath. Hear the sound of the breath.
It is infinite. It gives life. As all the different labels.