Pranayamas, or yogic breathing techniques, play an integral role in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. One foundational Pranayam is Breath of Fire (Agni Pran). Breath of Fire is a cleansing breath that invigorates the body, oxygenates the systems, and strengthens the nervous system. It is worth revisiting Breath of Fire with your students to make sure they are doing it properly and receiving the maximum benefit from this powerful Pranayam1.
- Begin by sitting up very straight. Pull the shoulders back and let them relax around the heart center. Lengthen and connect the space between your navel and your heart center. Close your eyes 9/10ths and concentrate at the brow point.
- Breathe in and out through the nose with the mouth closed, so that you hear the breath in the nose and not the throat. The breath is happening in the abdomen, filling up your belly with the inhale and contracting your navel with the exhale. Engage your navel so that it supports the upper diaphragm with a contraction on the exhale, and the inhale occurs as you relax the navel.
- Equalize the inhale and exhale so that they are of the same duration. The exhale requires more energy to contract the diaphragm, but do not make the exhale dominant – keep it equal. When you are perfecting this pranayama, try blocking your ears with your fingers in order to easily hear your breath internally and ensure you are breathing in a steady rhythm with an equal inhale and exhale.
- Start slowly to ensure that you are doing it correctly, and then increase the pace to 2 or 3 breaths per second – which is quite a fast breath.
- Start with 30 seconds and increase the duration of Breath of Fire as you master control of the breath. When you finish, sit calmly with a long, slow breath, and let the energy release and integrate into your body.
“Breath of Fire is our mantra. They call it Agni Pran, Breath of Fire. Jwala Pran, Breath of Fire. They call it Surya Pran Kriya, that's also Breath of Fire. They call it Dhonkani, that's also Breath of Fire. It has so many names, you can't believe it. But all it boils down to Breath of Fire. Whosoever knows the art of Breath of Fire, he can hire and fire angels and gods at his command. That's what it is.” Yogi Bhajan August 17, 1976
1Breath of Fire while pregnant is not advised. Refrain from practicing Breath of Fire during the first or second days of menstruation.