Energise – inc Kapalabhati Breath v Breath of Fire
Here are some of my favourite ways to energise :-
- Get outside in the fresh air – whatever the weather!
- Listen to upbeat tunes. Put all your favourite upifting songs onto one cd/playlist and hit PLAY any time you need a boost.
- Exercise – dance along to those upbeat favourites, practise yoga, go for a run – get your body moving any way you want.
- Plan a trip – studies show the anticipation alone brings a hit of happiness.
- Practise Pranayama – (yogic breathwork) – techniques to energise eg: Kapalabhati Breath and Breath of Fire (see more below)
- 3 Mins of Gratitude – say aloud 3 things you’re grateful for – and why – giving at least one full minute of attention to each!
3 minutes of Gratitude – You can do this one right now!
- Set a timer but don’t worry about going over!
- Speak aloud or write it down.
- Don’t just label what you’re grateful for, explain it…
This extra time you spend thinking about it and increased focus on WHY you’re grateful will help to you to feel it even more.
That will have an effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain and will basically help to
Boost your Happy!
In some lineages of yoga, you’re only invited to practise pranayama once you’ve mastered many asanas. The reasoning is because it’s important to have a feel for your body and to be able to hold it in a safe manner during the breathwork.
You’re ready for pranayama as long as you have none of the “contraindications” (see below) and providing you can comfortably sit or kneel up tall (using a block or sitting on a chair is fine) with a neutral pelvis, long spine and with your shoulders remaining relaxed throughout the breathwork.
When first starting yoga, pranayama is often considered the most difficult part to get the hang of… It may sound silly that breathing – something we do all day, every day – would be so challenging but it’s completely normal that it is.
When we aren’t thinking about it, our external environment often dictates our respiration, which – in turn – dictates our internal environment.
By changing the way that we breathe, we can almost immediately change how we feel and that can then expand out into our external world…
bringing everyone’s vibration up!
Kapalabhati Breath – Often called Breath of Fire (although there are some differences) – builds heat energy in the body.
Kapalabhati is a fast, vigorous exhale with a pump of the navel towards the spine followed by a passive (short) inhale, releasing the belly.
In Breath of Fire the inhale and exhale are both short, active and of equal length.
Both are more ‘advanced’ techniques and it’s important to have a good foundation of yogic breathwork practice before jumping straight into these.
Once you do, there are myriad benefits to these staccato breaths :-
- Strengthen & Balance the Nervous System (can help to relieve anxiety).
- Increase Lung Capacity & remove mucus and toxins.
- Regain/Maintain Focus (due to a boost of oxygen-rich blood to the brain).
- Stimulate Manipura – the Solar Plexus Chakra – our Personal Power Centre.
- Clear the Sinuses – alleviate allergies.
- Tone the Abdominal Organs – aid Digestion.
Contraindications (These pranayama techniques may not be suitable for your body/are not recommended if…) :-
You are: Pregnant ~ Menstruating ~ Recovering from Abdominal Surgery
You have (a): Hernia ~ Gastric Ulcer ~ High/Low Blood Pressure ~ Heart Disease ~ Detached Retina ~ Glaucoma ~ History of Stroke
If you suffer from: Migraines ~ Epilepsy ~ Vertigo ~ Nosebleeds
What will you do to energise? Here are some ideas:-
- Set time aside for Self Care
- Plan a holiday – even if it’s just a fun, local Day Trip
- Make an Upbeat Playlist to dance around the house to
- Practise 60 seconds (or more!) of pranayama each day
Originally published in the April Nirmala Loveletter, 2018. To sign up for the latest Loveletter, click here.
Jeannette Amy (Nette) Hopkinson (BSc Hons Sports & Life Sciences) is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and Oneness Blessing Giver based in Andalucía.