How to Activate Your Inner Fire During WinterBy:
Do you have a simple plan to help you through the dark, sluggish days of winter? All significant successes in life are built from many small success, so rather than pulling the blanket over your head on those bad hair days, try this simple breathing method that can help fire up your jets during even the darkest days.
Yoga philosophy teaches that our breath is a powerful, usually underutilized tool that can impact us in a number of different ways. Understanding the power of our breath (prana) is an essential foundation of any personal wellness practice. For example, if you need to calm down, you can breathe exclusively through the left nostril by closing off the right nostril with the right thumb, and take several long deep breaths through the left nostril. This activates the “ida,” the parasympathetic nervous system and helps you feel calm and centered.
Our breath is our spirit, coming from the latin root “spiritus”, meaning “breath” and thus, as we breathe, so we live. If we are breathing deeply and mindfully, we tend to live deep and mindful lives. Conversely, if we are shallow, erratic breathers, our lives tend to be on the surface and erratic as well. When we learn to deepen the breath and use it more consciously (mastering the breath), our lives tend to deepen and we gain mastery in life.
We all know winter is a challenging time for our bodies. We tend to turn naturally to richer comfort foods to pad our bodies to keep us warm, but all this can leave us feeling sluggish and heavy. We also rely excessively on caffeine to get us through many an afternoon slump, leaving our adrenals begging for mercy. But the balanced energy you will get from this breath when practiced regularly is quite helpful. No pills, drugs, caffeine or alcohol needed.
The “Breath of Fire” can be used as a primer first thing in the morning (always on an empty stomach!), so you can start your day on good footing. It warms the body gently, activating the navel center/third chakra, and awakens life force (kundalini) asleep at the base of your spine. This breath is practical and “portable.” Try it at your desk at work before a meeting. Add it to the start of your gym workout or yoga routine. You can also try adding it to a posture like Low Lunge, Warrior 1, or Ustrasana/Camel Pose!
This technique helps clear the lungs, balance the adrenals, and encourage digestion (fire in the belly is essential!). You can see the more complete listing of benefits on the tutorial page, but don’t take my word for it. Try it everyday for a week (or a month!) and see how you feel.
Learn the Breath of Fire
The recommended way to learn this breath is with a teacher guiding you. Sit down with me in my brief but helpful Practical Yoga for Everyday People DVD tutorial and learn it. The video is quick and to the point, and once you learn it, it will be a helpful tool for the rest of your life. You can take it with you through the winter, and well beyond. You will stay radiant!
Click here to view a video tutorial and learn the breath of fire.
Will Donnelly is a nationally recognized, certified yoga teacher and writer. He has been a pioneer in the field of yoga, developing Practical Yoga, and co-creating a yoga–reality series for fitTV (Discovery Communications). As a writer and teacher, Will encourages all students to trust their impulses and find their true voice. Will currently lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, where he leads weekly yoga and writing classes at Kalani. He also leads several popular Practical Yoga adventure and healing retreats throughout the year, with information to be found at WillsPracticalYoga.com