breath

TRY IT: BELLOWS BREATH

It stimulates your internal fire, yogis say.

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THE GIST
Bellows Breath, also known as Breath of Fire in Kundalini yoga, is an energizing technique that involves rapid pumping of the abdomen.
EXPERT INSIGHT
“This type of breathing is supposed to stimulate what yogis call internal or digestive fire,” says Michael Gervais, New York City-based yoga teacher and director of group fitness talent and development at Equinox. It aids digestion (unless you do it too soon after eating) by encouraging circulation and blood flow in the liver, spleen, and stomach. 

The technique also makes you more alert. “The vagus nerve in the brain goes directly to the diaphragm, so this rapid breathing excites the sympathetic nervous system and puts you in an engaged mode,” says Sean Peters, spa coordinator and massage therapist at Equinox in Boston.

To do it, sit with a straight spine, and close your eyes and mouth. Take quick, shallow breaths in and out through the nose, almost like you’re panting. Bellows Breath is driven by the diaphragm, so with each exhale, draw the belly button in toward the spine and release it with each inhale. 

If you’ve never done it before, start with one inhale and exhale per second and do 10 in a row, Gervais says. Work your way up to two inhale-exhale cycles per second for one minute.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Do Bellows Breath anytime you need a boost of energy, like in the morning or when you hit your midday slump, Gervais says.