You’ve heard of yoga, but have you ever heard of kundalini yoga? A subcategory of yoga taught at a growing number of studios in western society, kundalini yoga offers yogis the potential to deeply connect with their bodies and their energy. Kundalini yoga classes usually incorporate a lot of breath work. One favorite technique is called the breath of fire—an exercise you can perform anywhere.
Kundalini yoga is a complex art, and it’s best to attend a class with a certified instructor to reap the full benefits of this yoga practice. However, the breath of fire is a simple strategy that you can use anywhere when you’re in need of an immediate calm.
Make sure you’re alone (or don’t care what others think of you).
The breath of fire can become a little loud because it involves forceful exhalation. A quiet room where you can be alone is ideal for the exercise. You can also try doing the breath of fire in the car during your work commute or when you’re at home. If you’re at work and seriously in need of some relief, head outdoors during a lunch break if you’re able.
Blow your nose.
This might sound odd (or gross), but the breath of fire requires repetitive exhalation through the nose. Many yoga teachers pass out tissues before telling their class to begin the breath of fire exercise. A blocked nose will make it difficult to breathe, preventing you from reaping all the benefits of the breath of fire.
Set a timer.
In a kundalini yoga class, the yoga teacher cues the group of yogis for when to start and stop breathing exercises. If you’re practicing alone, you’ll have to track the time for yourself. Try starting out with one minute of the breath of fire. This doesn’t sound like much time, but it adds up. You’ll probably feel ready for a break at the end of the minute, but feel free to add more time if you desire.
Take a deep breath through your nose.
While a breathing exercise doesn’t sound particularly taxing, you have to prepare yourself. Inhale deeply so that you can get your body ready for the rapid exhalation that will follow.
Exhale repetitively through your nose.
Begin to exhale through your nose forcefully at a quicker interval than you would normally breathe. Trust that you will naturally inhale without making a concerted effort to do so. If the setting is appropriate and you’re looking for some extra cleansing, rotate your torso to one side with each exhalation. By the end of one minute, you’ll likely feel a little tired, yet refreshed.
As with any exercise or breathing technique, it’s best to stop what you’re doing if you begin to feel lightheaded or sick.