Today let’s practice the Invigorating Breath
This exercise is similar to the “Breath of Fire” and is also known as “Bellows Breathing.” In the yoga tradition it is called Kapalbhati Pranayama.
The practice is taught in many yoga schools, and there are a number of proven benefits to this ancient breathing exercise. It has been used for everything from clearing the sinuses and invigorating brain cells to stimulating weight loss and relieving digestive problems.
Dr. Andrew Weil places it at the top of his three most favorite recommended breathing exercises.
An important feature of this practice is that the focus is on the exhale. The exhale is active, and the inhale is passive. We breathe a forceful exhale, and we let the inhale be smooth, automatic and reflexive.
The exercise is done sitting up, with spine straight (like a good yogi!).
We focus on using the diaphragm and the front abdominal muscles. The belly is what moves actively and freely. With each sharp sudden exhale we pull the belly button in and up. Then we just let the inhale be a reflex.
The rise and fall of the rib cage is almost negligible during the Invigorating Breath. The chest barely moves or doesn’t move at all.
The volume, speed, and length of the exhale and the inhale are equal. A count of three short breaths per second is good. Two breaths per second is also good. And, one breath per second is quite acceptable for beginners.
The key is to make the exhales active, sharp, short, and quick, and let the inhales happen on their own.
At first, I suggest you limit your practice to 15 seconds. Then breathe normally, and gauge the results and reactions. (Practice internal awareness.) If you encounter no difficulties, then increase your practice to 30 seconds. Then breathe normally and meditate on the effects.
If it all feels good, and everything is a go, then move on up to three rounds of one full minute each of Invigorating Breaths. (Enjoy a minute or two of natural breathing in between each round.)
NOTE: Advanced practitioners can focus on pulling up on the perineum with each exhale and relaxing it on the inhale. And you can also combine Kapalbhati Breathing with Ujaya Breathing, while concentrating on the navel and throat chakras during the practice.
So, have you got it? The practice is to do three one minute rounds of Invigorating breaths, with a minute or two of natural breathing and meditation in between each round.
What are you waiting for?
Go for it!
And then let us all know what results or what benefits you experience.