Common steps and sub-activities
Breath of fire
‘Breath of fire’ is a technique described in western books on yoga. From what I can ascertain it is a corruption of a symbolic spiritual description.
If one examines the model of the mind [see below] and the input and output to the mind, symbolically in most eastern systems, the input was described as ‘Water’ and the output as ‘Fire’. The actual objective in all spiritual practices was in fact to balance the two so that one used spiritual input – wisdom, inspiration, healing etc, but processed it using one’s reasoning power excluding memory. In effect by excluding all previously obtained erroneous beliefs, one could obtain wisdom, but also process it to help in day to day living.
This clearly has absolutely nothing to do with Controlled breathing and controlled breathing cannot help you here. These are mind exercises. About the only controlled breathing techniques that may help are those to get you in a relaxed state. And the method described does not do that.
Thus breath of fire as a genuine [and safe] controlled breathing method does not exist. In order to help you recognise this dangerous western invention I have provided a brief description, from the books, of what it involves.
You adopt a cross legged sitting position as in yoga practises with spine straight, interlace your fingers in your lap. Then you simply breathe through the nose very rapidly keeping your mouth closed.
This is not the same as Bhastrika because you simply breathe in and out rapidly with about equal rapidity and do not use your stomach muscles to do it, the breathing as a consequence is far more shallow, but the effects will be much the same because you will still be breathing in far more oxygen than you actually need.
“Start out slowly as you are learning until you get used to the rhythm then pick up speed until you are breathing approximately 120 to 180 times per minute.”
One hundred and eighty times a minute is serious hyperventilation, I’m not sure even how you get to this rate, I can just about manage 120 but not for long. She says nothing about how long you actually do it for, but says 30 seconds on your first try is enough.
Rather hilariously the book [I won’t name it because it isn’t fair] from which I derived the description above was written by a western writer who said that ‘breath of fire virtually insulates your nerves, it coats them with an invisible but powerful protective pranic cushion that can last for days. Practised regularly, breath of Fire is guaranteed by the yogis to end any embarrassing temper tantrum habit”
Hyperventilation causes brain damage.
Hyperventilation leading to hallucinations: - Thomas E. Allen, Bertrand Agus, American Journal of Psychiatry. November 1968.
Breath of fire or cause of pneumothorax? A case report. - Johnson DB, Tierney MJ Sadighi PJ