Bhastrika Pranayama is a breathing process that produces heat evoking inner fire of body and mind. The Sanskrit name Bhastrika means bellows, therefore it is also known as Bellows Breath and Breath of Fire. The bellow of a blacksmith yield air into the fire creating more heat. Similarly, when you practice Bhastrika Pranayama, forceful respirations generates heat in the body which is referred to fire. Practicing Bhastrika increases the capacity of lungs and flush the toxins out of the body. It purifies blood and increases oxygen levels while reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood.
Bhastrika Pranayama Techniques
Technique 1: Basic
- Be seated in a meditation posture as per your comfort, preferably Padmasana, Siddhasana, Sukhasana or Vajrasana.
- Either simply rest your palms on the knees or keep them in an upward direction, gently joining the tips of thumb and index finger.
- Close your eyes, focus on your breaths and relax the whole body for a few seconds.
- After a normal inhalation, make a forceful exhalation, followed by a forceful inhalation. Continue to do so for 10 breaths.
- Exhalation must be carried out by using the abdominal muscles only; just like that in Kapalbhati Pranayama.
- When you inhale applying force, the abdominal muscles must expand. Exhalation must happen by a firm contraction of the abdomen. Apply the force within your capability, do not strain. The chest, shoulder and face must remain relaxed as you practice.
- As you inhale, the diaphragm moves inward urging the abdomen to move outward. As you exhale, the diaphragm goes upward and abdomen moves back inward. During Bhastrika Pranayama, this process is exaggerated.
- After taking 10 forceful inhalations and exhalations, inhale deeply and exhale slowly. This makes one round. Practice 10 rounds depending on how comfortable you feel. Before proceeding to next round, take some normal breaths till you feel relaxed.
Respiration includes both inhalation and exhalation. Add one respiration each week while keeping the same number of rounds. Keep adding till there are 50 respirations in each round.
Each individual holds different capability when it comes to practicing Pranayama. Bhastrika can be practiced in 3 different paces, that is slow, medium and fast depending on your capability. In the slow pace, each respiration will take 2 seconds, one for inhalation and one for exhalation. Practicing medium pace requires one breath per second. In the fast pace, a person can take two breaths in 1 second. Choose yours as per your comfort, don’t force your breath too much.
Technique 2: Alternate Nostrils
Commence this technique only after becoming good enough in the above one.
- Follow step 1-3 of above variation.
- Raise your right hand and gently press the right nostril, blocking the passage of air through it.
- Follow the same procedure as above. Take 10 forceful inhalations and exhalations through left nostril. Then inhale deeply and exhale slowly.
- Now change your hand to block left nostril this time and follow the same procedure for 10 breaths.
- After practicing from the right and left nostril separately. Practice with both nostrils for 10 breaths.
- All these 3 breathing processes together makes one round. You need to practice 5 rounds.
Regular practice will strengthen your abdominal muscles to a great extent. After a month of regular practice, you may add 5 more respirations to each round. Continue to add each month till there are 50 respirations in each round. That’s intense practice.
- Avoid practicing Bhastrika if you suffer from any of these: heart disorder, high blood pressure, stroke, hernia, gastric ulcer, retinal problems, epilepsy, vertigo or glaucoma.
- If you suffer from any respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma, practice under the guidance of a well versed yoga teacher.
- If you feel faintness or vomiting, it means that you are practicing incorrectly, in such case take help from a yoga professional.
Bhastrika Pranayama Benefits
- The process of forceful breathing in Bhastrika Pranayama generates heat in the body and clear out all the waste and toxins.
- Rapid respiration leads to a rapid exchange of air in lungs. This leads to an increased exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood which increases metabolic rate.
- Forceful respiration makes the diaphragm moves faster than usual, this movements tones digestive organs leading to their well functioning.
- It is an excellent Pranayama for those who frequently suffer from a cough and cold. It clears out any accumulated cough and cures pharyngitis.
- Bhastrika Pranayama Improves the functioning of nervous system reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
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