What is Bhastrika Pranayama?
Bhastrika Pranayama, or Bellows breath, is an ancient yogic breathing technique practiced for centuries by yogis and spiritual seekers to liberate from the bonds of ignorance, disease, and sorrow and to cultivate inner peace, mental clarity, and physical well-being. The practice involves inhaling and exhaling deeply and rapidly, igniting the heat and sound similar to the bellows.
The word ‘bhastrika’ is derived from Sanskrit, meaning a bellows (dhaunkni) used by blacksmiths to melt metals like iron.
Bhastrika Pranayama is believed to be full of vitality and an effective way of purifying the body and generating enough heat in the body to combat the winter season.
Bhastrika Pranayama can reduce stress, improve energy levels, and promote good health. With regular practice, one can experience a profound sense of relaxation and improved concentration and focus. But it needs to be practiced by advanced yogis only under the supervision of a Yoga master.
Benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama
- Increases the Pranic Energy of the Body- Bhastrika Pranayama is said to increase the Pranic Energy of the body significantly.
- Improves Blood Circulation– The controlled breathing pattern in Bhastrika Pranayama helps improve blood circulation.
- Improves focus and concentration- Regular practice of Bellows Breath helps improve focus and concentration profoundly.
- Helps in increasing body heat- Bhastrika Pranayama increases body heat to a great extent.
- Increases the supply of oxygen- It also helps increase the supply of oxygen in the body, thereby increasing the vitality of all organs and tissues.
- Helps in preventing and curing various diseases- Bhastrika Pranayama helps in curing various diseases and also prevents diseases related to digestion, respiratory system, etc.
- Enhances overall well-being- Bhastrika Pranayama helps energize the mind and body and hence improves the overall well-being of the practitioner.
- Helps in meditation- Regular practice of Bhastrika helps ease the path of meditation.
How to practice Bhastrika Pranayama?
- Begin by sitting in Padmasana or Siddhasana, as the practice of this pranayama can be more effective in either of these asanas.
- Take Gyan Mudra with your hands, keeping your elbows on your knees and palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and take a few moments to relax your body and mind.
- Begin with five deep breaths and exhales. It will give you an idea of the timing of your breathing pattern. Every breath should flow from the nostrils to the navel.
- Now start Bhastrika Pranayama by inhaling deeply through both nostrils, filling the lungs with air as much as possible before exhaling forcefully through the nose in one continuous stream of breath, creating a sound similar to that of a bellow.
- The speed and force with each breath will increase, i.e., the pace will increase, and the duration of inhaling and exhaling will decrease until your counted number of breaths. Eventually, the breaths will become very short but very forceful.
- Now you will increase the length of the breath, and the force will decrease continuously until counted breaths. At the end of round one, apply the root lock (moola bandha), inhale deeply, and apply the chin lock (Jalandhara Bandha). You will feel heated up in your upper body.
- Now open the chin lock and exhale normally. Breathe in natural patterns. Pause for a while and feel the energy within.
- Do not be in a hurry to open your eyes; take some time and practice normal breathing and then open your eyes.
- These steps complete 1 round of Bhastrika Pranayama. You can stop here or do two more rounds according to your capacity.
Common mistakes to avoid when practicing Bhastrika Pranayama
- Not taking enough time for relaxation before and after the practice.
- Not paying attention to the breath and allowing it to become shallow or shallow.
- Holding your breath too long or not exhaling fully.
- Practicing in an environment that is too hot, cold, or humid.
- Not using the correct technique or form for the practice.
- Practicing too much or too often.
Guidelines for beginners to Bhastrika Pranayama
Beginners here are considered only those people who are already yoga practitioners and have practiced Surya Bhedana Pranayama, Surya Anga Pranayama, and Ujjayi Breathing.
Anyone who is a novice to yoga practice should not do it.
- Start doing Bhastrika Pranayama only under the supervision of a Yoga Guru.
- Start your practice with short periods (2-3 minutes) and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the practice.
- Be sure to focus on your breath and use a comfortable pace for your inhalation and exhalation.
- Choose a quiet, comfortable environment to practice in.
- Try to maintain a steady, even rhythm throughout the practice.
- Listen to your body and take a break if you feel tired or overwhelmed.
- Make sure to take time for relaxation before and after the practice.
- Take your time opening your eyes after completing the practice. Don’t rush.
- Do not practice Bhastrika Pranayama in the summer season or when the weather outside is already hot.
- It is also essential to pay attention to your diet. Using cow’s milk and ghee (clarified butter) is advised to get good results.
Contraindications for Bhastrika Pranayama
- Individuals with high blood pressure, heart diseases, or any other serious medical condition should consult with their doctor before beginning Bhastrika Pranayama.
- Pregnant women should avoid this practice.
- People suffering from vertigo or dizziness should also avoid this practice.
- People who have recently undergone surgery should not practice it.
- People with asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory issues should take extra care when practicing Bhastrika Pranayama and should avoid forcing themselves to go beyond their comfort level.
- People suffering from Vata dosha or having intense body heat should do it only after taking advice from a medical professional.
How often should Bhastrika Pranayama be practiced?
The frequency of practice is up to the individual, but it is generally recommended that Bhastrika Pranayama be practiced once or twice a day for no more than 10 minutes at a time. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of the practice over time.
Bhastrika Pranayama is a powerful breathing exercise that can help to balance the body, calm the mind, and increase energy levels. It is an important part of many yoga practices and can be practiced in a variety of different ways. With regular practice, it can help to reduce stress levels and improve overall health and wellbeing.
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