Bhastrika pranayama is a yogic breathing technique that consists of a series of forceful, vigorous and rhythmic inhalations and exhalations. Unlike other types of pranayama, it is the exhalation that sets the force and the pace.
Bhastrika – bellows
Pranayama – breath
If you feel sluggish or groggy, especially in the mornings or during the day, doing a set of bhastrika breaths will help dissipate the fog. If you are trying to lose weight, a few rounds throughout the day will boost your metabolism and increase your digestive power. Don’t do Bhastrika close to bedtime as an invigorated mind tends to make it difficult to fall asleep.
You can mentally repeat any affirmations you may have as you perform this pranayama. For example:
- breathe in love, divinity, purity and goodness, breathe out negativities and toxins, experiencing the light flooding in, expanding your body’s aura and inner glow.
- breathe and release anything that does not serve you
- breathe in strength and joy, breathe out love and peace
- breathe in the future, breathe out the past
Do not practice bhastrika if you are pregnant, have high or low blood pressure, nose bleeds, glaucoma, detached retina, ear problems, poor lung capacity, epilepsy/seizures, or a panic disorder. Stop the moment you feel strain or if the sound of the out-breath isn’t right. It is also recommended that you don’t practice bellows breath on a full stomach – wait at least 2 hours after eating a full meal.
How to Perform Bhastrika Pranayama
- Sit comfortably in an upright posture.
- Begin by relaxing your shoulders.
- Take a deep, full, strong breath from your abdomen (filling your diaphragm and lungs, not your stomach – the stomach cannot absorb oxygen).
- Exhale forcefully with a quick, strong blast through your nose, followed again by forceful, deep inhalations. Do this 4-8 times per cycle.
In summer, do it slightly slower.
- Your breathing is entirely from your diaphragm, keeping your head, neck, shoulders, and chest relatively still while your belly moves in and out at a constant pressure for the inhalations and exhalations.
- Your face should be relaxed and reflect contentment.
- End your cycle on an out-breath.
- Take a few slow and deep breaths (ujjayi) or hold your breath with mula bandha for a few seconds and exhale slowly and deeply. This rests the diaphragm and lungs to prepare them for another cycle.
- Beginners should start by doing a round of 2 bhastrika breaths, increasing gradually.
- Stay tuned in to your body at all times.
- If you feel light-headed or uncomfortable, stop for a few moments before resuming in a less intense manner.
- Continue for a maximum of 5 minutes daily.
- Once finished, breathe naturally and notice the sensations in your body.
Practicing bhastrika brings your attention into your body, reminding you how to move energy consciously.
The ability to manage your life force or prana is a powerful tool in maintaining your health.
- Activates the entire body
- Refreshes the brain
- Prevents sickness
- Boosts immunity and blood flow
- Relieves inflammation of the throat
- Increases gastric fire and adjusts your appetite (increases or decreases as necessary)
- Cures asthma.
- Warms the body
- Drains sinuses and stops runny noses
- Strengthens and revitalises the 5 senses
- Creates a sense of exhilaration – of achievement, happiness, strength and vitality
- Heart becomes healthy
- Lungs become strong
- Invigorates liver, spleen and pancreas, purifying blood and removing toxins
- Freedom from depression, chronic disease, kapha-related disease: colds, allergies, TB, asthma, sinus.
- Alleviates migraines
- Good for Parkinsons, thyroid problems, tonsillitis, paralysis
- Balances 3 doshas