Kapalabhati, or breath of fire is a powerful breathing technique that works to increase agni (digestive fire) and burn up stagnation in your abdomen. It is very cleansing for the lungs and digestion. It creates blood flow to your pelvis and reproductive organs so it is a great exercise to do to support fertility health. It also benefits the mind – the translation of Kapalabhati is ‘forehead shining’ to signify the bright awareness that gets cultivated in the mind as a result of consistent practice. In TCM, both the abdomen and the mind are important aspects of conception. The mind (which the heart houses) is where the hormones are controlled. The abdomen energy feeds the gonads of both men and women and needs to be supplied with fresh blood and energy in order to function optimally.
Breath of fire is used in Kundalini yoga and is combined with specific poses to create various benefits in the body. For the sake of simplicity, I recommend starting practicing in a cross legged position so you can focus on the technique. The practice is best done on an empty stomach.
Begin by sitting comfortably with loose fitting clothes. It is important not to have constriction in your abdomen so that you can do the exercise comfortably.
Take a few deep inhalations and exhalations to prepare.
Then inhale and forcefully exhale with your mouth closed as you feel your abdomen constrict with the exhalation. It is important to note that all of the breath happens in the abdomen and not the chest. This is a practice that takes time to get used to.
All you need to focus on is the pumping of the abdomen as you exhale and the inhale will happen automatically. This is an exhalation based breathing technique. This is a great video that I found showing for a visual of breath of fire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V86Xao9bcRI.
You can begin by doing the breath of fire for a continuous 30 seconds and slowly increasing it over time. The best time to do this is in the morning before breakfast. This should be avoided for women who are pregnant or menstruating.
Photo by Liset Verhaar