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Breathing Exercises To Generate Heat

Guest Author - Tracy Webb

Pranayam is yogic breathing exercises. Some are best used in the summer to cool the body down, while others can assist with heating the body up. Pranayam also serves other beneficial purposes to the body, for example; increasing life span, purifying the blood and cells of the body, increases brain function and mental clarity.

There are three main pranayam for generating heat, Bhastrika Pranayam, Kapal Bhati and Ujjayi breathing.

Bhastrika means bellows. The practice is reminiscent of a blacksmiths bellows as the lungs are used for the forcible inhalation and expulsion of air from the body. This action is said to cleanse and purify the body of any impurities and oxygenate the blood. Caution: This pranayam is not recommended for anyone suffering with high blood pressure or heart ailments.

Kapal Bhati is the sister pranayam of Bhastrika. This pranayam focuses more on the exhalation of the breath only. As well as generating heat, Kapal Bhati cleanses the skull and brings clarity to the mind. Kapal means skull and Bhati means shine. Caution: This pranayam is not recommended for anyone suffering with a stomach tumor or heart disease.

Ujjayi breathing is sometimes referred to as Darth Vader breathing. It is a deep guttural breath that starts in the throat. This pranayam is important for bringing balance to the brain, strengthening the heart and can assist with achieving greater capacity for meditation.

Practicing These Pranayam

Bhastrika Pranayam

If possible, sit cross-legged on the floor. If not, sit comfortably in a high backed chair.
Keep the body and head erect.
Close the left nostril with the ring finger.
Breathe in and out forcefully through the right nostril for 20 rounds.
On the last round retain the breath and apply three bandhs. Hold to your capacity.
Exhale slowly through the right nostril.
Repeat on the other side.
Now do with both nostrils alternatively.

Kapal Bhati

Sit cross-legged on the floor if possible, or on a high back chair.
If sitting on the floor, keep spine and head erect. Hold the knees firmly.
Close your eyes and inhale completely through the nostrils, contract Mool Bandh (navel).
Now make short and sudden expulsions of the breath through the nostrils with force in quick succession. The stomach should move inwards with each out breath.
Try to aim for 15 to 20 expulsions before taking another breath and repeating the process.
Aim for between 3 and 5 rounds.

Ujjayi Pranayam

If possible, sit cross-legged on the floor. If not, sit comfortably in a high backed chair.
Keep the body and head erect.
Turn the tongue till the tip is pressing on the roof of the mouth towards the back.
Start to breathe through the nostrils and throat making a deep breathing sound like Darth Vader.
Continue to breathe slowly and evenly for around 15 to 20 cycles.
Ujjayi breathing is often used during asana practice to keep the mind focused.

These three pranayam can be practiced together or separately. It is advised that you do not practice the first two during the summer months or if too hot.

Happy practicing!
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Content copyright © 2013 by Tracy Webb. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tracy Webb. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Terri Johansen for details.

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