The yogic technology of breath is called Pranayama. Kundalini Yoga uses the breath to change energy flow and achieve a specific state of mind. In Kundalini Yoga, a wide variety of breathing techniques are used, ranging from fast (Breath of Fire) to long, slow and deep breathing. There is nothing more powerful than meditating on your breath. The slower your rate of breathing,
the more control you have over your mind. And remember that the mind follows the breath, and the body follows the mind. The following are the most commonly used breathing techniques in Kundalini Yoga:
Long Deep Breathing
In our society, we normally breathe shallow, using only a small portion of our lung capacity. This may lead to many different dysfunctions in the body. Average lungs can enlarge to a volume of almost 6,000 cubic centimeters. Normally we use only 600 – 700 cubic centimeters of that capacity. If you do not expand the lungs to their full capacity, the small air sacks in the lungs
cannot fully clean their mucous lining properly. By breathing long and deeply you can expand the lungs by about eight times, building up your endurance and patience, and maintaining you in your center, even under pressure.
So it is important to cultivate the habit of breathing long, deep and slow breaths. If you can slow your breath to eight times per minute (we normally breath on average fifteen breaths per minute), the functions of the pituitary and pineal glands are greatly affected. Breathing one time a minute or less puts you into a deep meditation.
Instructions: First relax the abdomen as you inhale through the nose, then begin pushing the navel point outward, expanding the belly and allowing the lungs to fill with air to their capacity. Then drop the shoulders relaxing them continuing to take in the last bit of air. Hold the breath in for a comfortable length of time. As you exhale let the chest deflate first as the ribs knit together and then pull the navel in toward the spine until all the air is expelled from the lungs. The diaphragm drops down to expand the lungs on the inhalation and contracts to expel the air on the exhalation.
Benefits: This breath relaxes and calms you even under the most intense conditions; adjusts the aura; increases lung capacity; builds up your endurance and patience, maintaining you in your center.
Breath of Fire
Breath of Fire is a balanced breath with equal emphasis on the inhalation and the exhalation. The restricted flow of air through the nostrils prevents hyperventilation. Master this breath slowly and methodically. It causes an immediate detoxification reaction in the body. So if you start feeling dizzy or light-headed, drink lots of water, at least 6 to 8 glasses per day.
Instructions: This breath is done through the nose with a closed mouth throughout the inhalation and the exhalation. Breathe fairly rapidly (2 to 3 breaths per second), continuously and powerfully with no pause between inhalation and exhalation. This breath focuses the energy at the navel point. To inhale, the abdomen relaxes, the diaphragm extends down, and the breath
comes in a natural rhythm. To exhale, push the air out by pulling the navel point in towards the spine. During Breath of Fire you are pumping your stomach in on the exhalation and relaxing it on the inhalation. The chest stays moderately relaxed. You should feel the pull of the muscles in the navel area.
Breath of Fire can be confusing at first and will take some practice to master this breath. If you start to feel dizzy or light-headed, try to focus at the brow point, as your body adjusts to thenew breath and to the stimulation of your nerves. However, in other cases, it may be that you are releasing toxins. Note: if you are a beginner, you may be breathing backward, pulling the navel point inward during inhalation instead of outward, and exhaling filling the stomach with air instead of emptying it of air. This makes the space for the breath less rather than more.
If you are doing Breath of Fire incorrectly, you may also start feeling queasy and lightheaded,
so in this case, stop doing it immediately and concentrate on your navel point by placing your hands on your stomach and practice feeling the difference when expanding the stomach with air as you inhale, and pulling the navel point in as you exhale. Once this is set, then start Breath of Fire slowly keeping the same patterns of breathing.
Benefits: This breath cleanses the blood and releases toxins from the lungs, mucous lining, blood vessels and cells. Strengthens the nervous system. Expands the lungs quickly. Reduces addictive impulses for drugs, smoking and bad foods. Adjusts the aura. Boosts the immune system. Repairs the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve systems. Creates a focused, intelligent and neutral state of mind. Note: while pregnant or menstruating, substitute Long Deep Breathing for Breath of Fire.