Breath of fire (Agni Pran in Sanskrit) is a unique breathing exercise in [Kundalini yoga](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-kundalini-yoga) that involves forcing air quickly out of the lungs using the diaphragm—the dominant respiratory muscle near the lower ribs and intercostal muscle. While yogic breathwork exercises typically focus on lengthy deep breathing to promote relaxation, the breath of fire technique aims to energize and excite. Breath of fire is attributed to the work of Yogi Bhajan, who brought the Kundalini yoga practice to North America in the 1960s. \n\nBreath of fire is closely related to—and sometimes used interchangeably with—Kapalbhati or Kapalabhati Pranayama (or skull shining breath), another energizing yoga breathing technique that uses passive inhales and forceful exhales. \n\nWhen done properly, the breath of fire technique can:\n\n1. __Helps to energize__. The breath of fire technique stimulates your nervous system by increasing your body temperature, heart rate, and blood flow, which can leave you feeling energized and more prepared to start your day or tackle a difficult task.\n2. __Helps clear the nasal passage__. Since the breath of fire technique rapidly sends air through your airways on each exhalation, it may help clear your nasal passage of mucus buildup or other blockages, allowing you to breathe freer after the exercise. \n3. __Works core muscles__. Breath of fire is a diaphragm-centered movement, so proper inhaling and exhaling can work your abdominal muscles and help build core strength and physical endurance during your yoga practice. \n\nHere are a few tips for practicing breath of fire:\n\n1. __Begin with other breathing techniques__. Breath of fire is a type of [Pranayama](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/pranayama-breathing-explained), or yogic breath control. (“Prana” translates to “energy source,” or breath, while “Yama” means “restraint.”) To successfully perform breath of fire, you’ll need to be comfortable working with your breath and have a strong foundation of other breathing techniques, like Ujjayi breath and full yogic breathing. Even after you’ve mastered breath of fire, begin your session with other breathing techniques first, and work your way up to it to maintain a safe practice. \n2. __Start with shorter increments__. If you’re new to breath of fire, you may be inclined to hold your breath for as long as possible to get the hang of it. However, breath of fire can be overly strenuous when held for long periods without the proper experience. For safe practice, start in increments no longer than 30 seconds before working your way up to longer periods. \n3. __Build your core muscles__. If you’re having a difficult time expelling air properly for breath of fire, it may be a sign that your diaphragm muscles aren’t yet strong enough for the technique. Consider adding in a few core workouts to build up your diaphragm and get comfortable working those muscles. \n4. __For an extra challenge, try alternate nostril breathing__. If you want a more challenging approach, there are many ways to enhance your breath of fire technique. Try combining breath of fire with alternate nostril breathing, a technique in which you channel your breath first through your right nostril and then through your left. Practicing breath of fire in alternating nostrils can help focus your attention and bring you increased [mindfulness](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/mindfulness-explained).\nHere’s a basic step-by-step guide for practicing breath of fire:\n\n1. __Begin in a comfortable resting pose__. Begin by sitting cross-legged on your mat, towel, or the floor. Your spine should feel like a straight line from your neck to your tailbone. Begin a mindful breathing technique (like Ujjayi breathing) to bring your focus to the present moment, and consciously think about your solar plexus (the cluster of nerves below your sternum that’s central to the third chakra) to center your body. You can also ease into the session by moving through a few stretches or simple [asanas](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/yoga-asanas-guide) (yoga poses).\n2. __Initiate quick breathing__. Once you feel ready, pick up the pace of your breathing, with inhales and exhales of equal length through the mouth. If it’s your first time practicing breath of fire, aim for each breath cycle (from inhale to exhale) to last about one second in length; it should sound similar to the panting of a dog. As you breathe, channel the air through your stomach rather than your chest. Place a hand on your navel point to feel your stomach expanding and contracting like a bellow with each breath.\n3. __Breathe through your nostrils__. After you have a comfortable rhythm, close your mouth and begin channeling breath of fire through your nostrils. You are now performing breath of fire. If you’re a beginner, continue this practice for up to 30 seconds before returning to a more natural breathing pattern. As your lung capacity increases, you may find that you can safely continue fire breathing for up to two minutes at a time.\n4. __Introduce mudras__. Once you have the hang of the breath of fire, you can introduce [mudras](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/mudra-guide) (or hand positions) to enhance your practice. Gyan mudra is a common placement where you place your hands in your lap. The Ego Eradicator Kriya is a slightly more advanced mudra that requires yogis to extend both arms above their heads while pointing their thumbs inward.\n5. __Return to natural breathing__. After you’ve practiced for a safe length of time, decide which breath will be your final fire breath and hold the exhale, meditating on the breath and the experience. Allow your breathing to return to a natural flow. \n\nThe practice of breath of fire is a strenuous yoga technique and is not advised for those with high blood pressure, heart problems, respiratory infections, or vertigo. If you feel dizzy or in pain when practicing breath of fire, stop immediately and consult a licensed professional. \n\nProper form and technique are essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of a yoga practice. If you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, consult your physician before practicing yoga. Yoga poses may be modified based on your individual needs.\nUnroll your mat, get a [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com), and get your *om* on with Donna Farhi, one of the most celebrated figures in the world of yoga. Follow along as she teaches you the importance of breathing and finding your center as well as how to build a strong foundational practice that will restore your body and mind. \nBreath of fire is a stimulating yogic breathing technique that can help energize yogis of all levels.