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What Is Breath of Fire Yoga?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 27, 2021

Yoga is a unique exercise that offers both physical and mental health benefits. While there are beginner practices anyone can try, advanced techniques like breath of fire yoga take more commitment to master.

Breath of Fire Technique

Kundalini yoga is an advanced form of yoga that relies on using breath of fire during practice during certain poses. At first, it takes concentration to maintain the breathing pattern. The goal is to master breath of fire so that it takes little effort.‌

Breath of fire is often compared to how you breathe when hyperventilating, but the two are very different. Breath of fire is quick-paced, rhythmic, and sustained for a long period of time. Your inhale and exhale time is equal, with no pause in between breath. You should have two to three cycles of breathing in and out per second once you master breath of fire.

When practicing, inhale and exhale through your nostrils, keeping your mouth closed unless a trained instructor tells you otherwise. The power behind your breath comes from deep in your core at your belly button and solar plexus. When you breathe out, your navel and solar plexus press inward to your spine.‌

When you inhale, your abdominal muscles relax and allow oxygen into your lungs, as if automatically. At first, the rapid nature of the movement is difficult. But once you get the hang of it, the technique can feel effortless.

When you do it right, your chest is lifted but relaxed. Your hands, feet, face, and belly should also be relaxed. Doing it correctly is more important than speed when you first start. Focus on practicing for one to three minutes and build up over time.

Breath of Fire Yoga Risks

Unfamiliar sensations. At first, you may feel dizzy, giddy, tingly, or light-headed by the rapid breathing. As you get used to it, these feelings lessen. They may be startling at first, but these sensations may signal that your body is releasing toxins. It may help to drink extra water and eat lightly after a session.

Improper technique. Because breath of fire yoga is similar to hyperventilating, it’s possible to breathe the wrong way. Focus on taking shallow breaths and not moving a lot of air at one time. You may end up hyperventilating if your breath is deep instead of shallow.‌

May impact pre-existing conditions. There are some reasons you should not practice this breathing technique:

  • Pregnancy or menstruation. Instead, practice long, deep breathing.
  • Vertigo. Breath of fire may make your symptoms worse.
  • Health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and seizures. ‌

If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor. When starting out your breath of fire practice, seek out the guidance of a trained teacher who can help guide you.

Breath of Fire Yoga Benefits

The primary goal of practicing breath of fire yoga is to release toxins and chemicals from the cells in your body.

Other health benefits include:

  • Expanding your lung capacity and activating the deepest regions of your lungs that aren’t used for typical breathing
  • Strengthening your vital strength and nervous system
  • Increasing your resistance to stress
  • Restoring balance to your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
  • Strengthening your bell muscles
  • Increasing your endurance for physical activities
  • Energizing your blood with additional oxygen
  • Gaining control over your impulses
  • Increasing delivery of oxygen to your brain, providing a higher ability to focus‌
  • Boosting your immune system to prevent illness and disease

Show Sources

SOURCES:

‌Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization: “Breath of Fire.”

‌International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association: “Understanding Breath of Fire.”

‌Spirit Rising Yoga: “Breath of Fire (BOF).”

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