Kapalabhati Pranayama, also known as ‘skull shine,’ is an excellent way to release tension and stress. It focuses on powerful inhales and exhales to purify the nasal passages and lungs. Kapalabhati Pranayama is also called the ‘Breath of Fire’ in yoga. It is an effective exercise that, when practiced in conjunction with yoga, helps your entire body.
Breath of Fire is used in Kundalini yoga along with other traditional breathing techniques. It is a rhythmic breath that consists of short, strong exhales and passive inhales. Experts recommend practicing this breathing technique in 2-3 cycles per second for up to 30 minutes.
Breath of Fire allows you to control your diaphragm motions and discard the muscle cramps in your bronchial tubes. The inhalation process is calming and slow, whereas the exhalation is powerful and strong. This energizing technique restores energy in your muscles, improve blood circulation, releases stress-calming chemicals, and reboots your overall body.
Is Breath of Fire Beneficial for Stress Relief?
Breath of Fire clears your body from harmful substances and toxic chemicals. It detoxifies your body and replaces toxic air with fresh air. The technique requires you to breathe from the abdomen and not from the chest to clean and detoxify the lungs. When you breathe this way, it lightens your head and provides relief from conditions like sinusitis. It is a powerful and energizing practice that fills your head with fresh oxygen, reduces stress, and promotes relaxation.
A 2013 study highlighted that Breath of Fire is an excellent yoga technique to reduce stress in students. Researchers found that this breathing technique decreased Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) activity and produced calming effects on the brain. The study also showed that the Breath of Fire technique regulates the rest-and-digest response by activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). It reduces cortisol levels in the brain, leading to calming and analgesic effects.
Moreover, the Solar Plexus, also known as the Navel Chakra or Manipura in Sanskrit, is associated with willpower, self-esteem, and self-confidence – it is the passion center of the body and mind. Breath of Fire balances the Navel chakra and bring inner peace to control your thoughts and emotions, calming feelings of shame, jealousy, fear, remorse and disgust.
The breathing technique not only purifies your lungs, but it also increases their capacity to accommodate more oxygen. The blood from your heart travels to the lungs, where it receives oxygen. The elevated level of oxygen is then supplied to all parts of the body, including your brain. When oxygen interacts with your neurons, they produce more stress-suppressing chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Eventually, it leads to reduced stress and anxiety. Various studies indicate that this type of breathing technique strengthens the Central Nervous System (CNS) and promote overall health.
Other Benefits of Breath of Fire
Besides stress relief, Breath of Fire can release harmful elements and toxins from your blood vessels, lungs, mucous linings, and other tissues. It increases your vital strength by expanding your lung capacity. Additionally, it balances the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems, balancing emotions and responses to stress, while also increasing physical endurance with more oxygen. Breath of Fire is also a wonderful practice for adjusting and balancing the aura’s psycho-electromagnetic field to provide blood with more nutrients. This is an ideal technique for those battling addiction, impulses for food, smoking or drugs as it increases oxygen supply to the Central Nervous System and facilitates intelligent, focused, and neutral thinking.
How to Do Breath of Fire
Here is a step-by-step guide to do Breath of Fire:
1. Begin in a seated cross-legged posture. Sit up straight and tall.
2. Place your hands on your knees, palms facing up. It may also help you to place a hand on your stomach to feel your breath.
3. Inhale through your nose, feel your stomach expand.
4. Without pausing between breaths, exhale forcefully through your nose. You should contract your stomach muscles and keep your inhales and exhales the same length. Repeat for 1-3 minutes.
5. Speed up your breaths, keeping your exhales strong and loud.
6. Repeat for up to 30 seconds.
Breath of Fire is a healing breathing exercise that, when practiced in combination with yoga, can have many benefits. Try incorporating Breath of Fire in your daily practice to clear your mind, increase oxygen flow throughout your body and improve your mood and focus.