It was 7:05 AM, a bright, sunny and somewhat dry
day. I strolled into the gym, half asleep, dragging my training bag
across the floor. I quickly pushed it into the locker and made my way
towards yoga class. I could hear the class practicing their laughter
exercise but by the time I got to the room they had moved on to panting.
Yes, dog like, heavy panting which went on for about three to four
I stood at the back of the class, amazed and quite frankly, embarrassed.
I've seen my retriever pant through the day, every day during the
summer but I had no idea it could serve any other purpose than to help
my dog feel less hot. And this exercise isn't just called panting, it's
got a name, 'Panting Dog Breath of Fire'.
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According to my Mr. Sunil Saini, yoga instructor at a popular Delhi gym,
"Panting is a powerful breathing Pranayama technique that is part of an
ancient school of yoga called the Kundalini yoga. It dates back
centuries and is known to cleanse the system and detoxify the body."
He added, "Kundalini yoga uses breathing exercises to channel a person's
inner energy or creative potential. A similar breathing technique is
found in Reiki and other kinds of energy medicine."
The Kundalini School of Yoga
According to the Kundalini Research Institute, Kundalini yoga is 'one of
the most comprehensive of yoga traditions, combining meditation,
mantra, physical exercises and breathing techniques; it is a Raj Yog,
encompassing the eight limbs of yoga into a singular practice of
excellence and ecstasy.'
In his blog, Sadhguru explains how in yogic culture, Kundalini is
symbolized as a curled up snake which represents the energy that
manifests within you. It's mostly dormant and is also referred to as
your third eye. The snake remains all curled because it symbolizes your
inner energy. The curled up snake isn't visible to the world and
neither is your inner energy. Kundalini yoga focuses on self-awareness
and if done right, can re-energize you through and through.
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The word Kundalini itself is of great significance in old Indian tradition. According to Samael Aun Weor, author of the book 'Kundalini Yoga: The Mysteries of the Fire: Ancient Secrets of Hinduism Revealed',
Kundalini is the spouse of Shiva, it's the spirit of electricity, it's
the serpent who's tailed is coiled three times and is intimately related
with the Prana that circulates through the 72,000 nadis or astral
conduits that nourish the chakras. The other exercises that fall under
Kundalini yoga are also known to be odd, weird and a bit embarrassing in
nature. No wonder this school of yoga encourages you reveal your inner
How to master the 'Panting Dog Breath of Fire'
Ideally, this exercise should also be done at the end of any kriya and just before the final relaxation pose. Sit on your heels in a Vajrasana
pose and straighten your back. Open your mouth, stick your tongue out
as far as it can go and start panting. With every exhalation your
stomach should go in or contract immediately. You can continue to do
this from anywhere between 15 seconds to five minutes, though one minute
is ideal. Be sure to drink a lot of water after you're done as this
will help release the remaining toxins.
How Does it Help?
1. Cuts back toxins and heavy metal in your body
2. Helps keep your acne breakout in control and gives you great, glowing skin
3. Strengthens your immune system and helps fight infection
4. Helps improve your respiratory system
5. Works your abdominal muscles
6. Helps fight allergies and cure headaches
Besides panting, there are a number of other breathing techniques that
are known to improve physical well-being, heal common ailments, and
increase self-awareness. Some of them can be practiced at home, but it's
ideal to get an expert to take you through them. It can be as easy as
abdominal breathing which needs to be slow, relaxed but requires extreme
Another kind is the Brahmari breathing which is a technique that uses
sound vibrations, like that of a humming bee, to calm the mind. Another
exercise that falls under Kundalini yoga is the 'Breath of fire' which
is pretty similar to 'Panting dog breath of fire' but only that there's
no need to pant. Cross your legs, close your mouth and breathe rapidly
by pumping the navel. This helps build lung capacity, release toxins and
build overall strength.