Breath of fire is a type of pranayama used in Kundalini yoga. Also called fast breathing, the purpose is to increase prana in the body.
In breath of fire, the rate of respiration is increased to roughly 100 to 120 breaths per minute, but these are not short, shallow breaths. Instead, the inhalations and exhalations are deep and of equal length.
To begin, take an easy seated position such as padmasana (lotus pose) or vajrasana (thunderbolt pose). After a few minutes, the body and breath will settle into a naturally relaxed state. This is known as quiet breathing. To begin fast breathing, the speed of quiet breathing is increased by deeply inhaling and exhaling fully through the nose or mouth. During the inhale, the diaphragm is pushed out and pulled during the exhale. Fast breathing requires quick movements of the diaphragm which is controlled by the abdominal and chest muscles. Beginners should start with 60 complete breaths per minute, building up to more than 100 breaths per minute.
Cosmic intelligent vibration refers to the sound of Om (or alternate spelling, Aum), as it represents Absolute Reality, or Brahman, in sound vibrations. It is the vibration of the primordial sound associated with the creation of the universe.
It is believed that before creation, the humming of energy existed. That sound became the vibration of creation, so the universe was created out of the cosmic intelligent vibration, the ever-present sound of Om. This vibration still exists around and within everyone.
Pratyaya is a Sanskrit term that can refer to several concepts, but in yoga, it typically refers to the contents of the mind – a single thought, a person’s basic tendencies or an object of focus in meditation. It can also refer to a person’s conscious impressions or internal seeds that do not disappear, even in the blissful state of samadhi.
In Buddhism, the concept of pratyaya refers to the causes, particularly of mental activity, and is divided into four types: hetu-pratyaya (direct cause), samanantara-pratyaya (immediately preceding cause), alambana-pratyaya (object as a cause) and adhipati-pratyaya (superior cause).
Udana vayu is one of the five vayus, or subdivisions of prana, each of which has specific qualities, functions and directions of flow. Udana vayu is located in the throat and flows in a circular manner around the neck and head. This vayu regulates speech, growth and self-expression. Derived from Sanskrit, this term translates as “ascending air.”
Yogis can control the energy of udana and other vayus by bringing their awareness and focus to them. Such awareness allows the yogi to cultivate health and wellbeing.
Karya sharira is the gross (physical) body within Hinduism’s three-body philosophy, and is the vehicle for both the subtle (linga/sukshma) and causal (karana) bodies. From Sanskrit, karya translates to “function” or “origin,” and sharira means “body.”
Within a spiritual yoga practice, yogis seek to balance the three bodies through pranayama, meditation, asana, Ayurveda and keeping a healthy diet (such as a sattvic diet).
Rechaka, or rechaka pranayama, is a Sanskrit word that means “exhalation.” It refers to a form of yogic breathing in which the exhalation is lengthened, while the inhalation remains free. Together with puraka (inhalation) and abhyantara kumbhaka (breath retention), rechaka is one of the three stages utilized in pranayama.
Some yogic sources state that pranayama is retention, and that puraka and rechaka are only methods of affecting it. Others state that recaka is the most important part of pranayama, and that if the quality of the exhalation is not good, the quality of the whole pranayama practice is affected.
Langhana is a Sanskrit word that means “to fast,” “to reduce” or “to diminish back to its cause.” In the traditional Indian medical practice known as Ayurveda, langhana is used to describe dieting, fasting and weight-reducing therapy in general, but includes related treatments that reduce various types of heaviness in the body and mind.
In pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), langhana refers to the exhalation, while brahmana refers to the inhalation. In yoga asana practice, langhana postures are those that are more relaxing, slowing the heart rate, breathing and metabolism, relaxing the nervous system, and calming the mind. Langhana asanas, in conjunction with brahmana asanas, help bring the body, mind and spirit into balance.
Attunement refers to the process of creating a harmonious energetic connection with the universe, arising from the adjustments of a Reiki Master. Reiki is a Japanese term, meaning ‘universal life energy,’ similar to the concepts of Prana in yoga and Chi in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The term is also used to refer to a healing therapy developed by Mikao Usui in 1922.
Reiki is passed from Master to student via attunements, in which the student is prepared to become a vessel for universal energy. Until a student has received attunements from a Reiki Master, they are unable to truly move Reiki energy for themselves or others.
Expansion is a concept in yoga that describes both physical and spiritual growth. During the physical practice of yoga, the lungs expand through the breath, allowing vital life-force energy to flow through the body. In turn, yoga poses help the yogi grow physically, mentally and spiritually.
It is on the spiritual level, though, that expansion is most significant. On this level, it means letting go of unconscious contraction, thereby allowing the yogi to be present and aware.
Sankhyas are members of the oldest system of Hindu philosophy or darshan. The Sanskrit word sankhya means “number” or “enumeration”; therefore, the Sankhyas are sometimes called the enumerators. Systematic enumeration along with rational examination forms the basis of their philosophy.
The six classical schools of Hinduism are Vaisheshika, Yoga, Samkhya, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Vedanta. Sankhya philosophy closely resembles that of Yoga darshan, as both are based on the principle of liberation, but, Sankhya deals with the theory while Yoga is concerned with applying the theory and the practices for obtaining liberation.