Breathing Exercise #4: Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama
Background of Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama (Bellows Breath):
This important Yoga Breathing Exercise, Bhastrika Pranayama, is the ultimate pranayama for energy and power. It is one with a long list of benefits, which includes raising metabolic function at the cellular level to increase the burning of fat and promoting healthy, natural weight loss. Other that assisting in healthy weight loss and fat burning, there a myriad of valuable reasons to include this breathing exercise into your daily Yoga practice and a full list of these benefits is provided below.
Bhastrika Pranayama is also called Bellows Breath as it mimics the working of a bellows used to flame a fire. It pumps air and life-force (prana) vigorously and dynamically throughout the entire system. When practicing this champion of pranayamas be ready for a workout!
Benefits of Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama (Bellows Breath):
- Boosts your metabolic rate so your body burns fat faster promoting natural weight loss.
- Purifies your gross and subtle body by eliminating toxins and waste.
- Generates heat in your body and opens up your energy pathways.
- Builds lung capacity and helps clear and strengthen the respiratory system.
- Expands and fortifies your nervous system.
- When done forcefully, the pulsating of the diaphragm massages the internal organs, thus improving your digestive system.
Cautions for Practicing Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama (Bellows Breath):
- If you feel dizzy or nauseous you should slow down the pace of bhastrika pranayama or stop entirely and return to normal breathing. If you suffer from vertigo, you should use caution in practicing this breathing exercise.
- If you are menstruating you should not practice this breathing exercise.
- You should be careful practicing Bhastrika Pranayama if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or suffer from stroke or epilepsy. Also, if you have acid or heat related gastric issues such as ulcers you should use caution.
Guided Beginner’s Breath of Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama (Bellows Breath):
- To practice this breathing exercise sit up in a comfortable position. You may also practice it lying down or standing up, but, sitting is best.
- Elongate your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention. This will align the spine with the back of your head.
- Close your eyes.
- Place your hands on your knees.
- Relax your stomach muscles.
- Now begin to breathe as forcefully as comfortable through the nose with equal emphasis on the inhalation and exhalation. The diaphragm should expand and contract in conjunction with your breathing. All the breaths should be deep and powerful and you should try to establish a steady rhythm. The pace should be about 1 second for inhalation and about the same for exhalation.
- Do a round of 10 repetitions and then inhale completely, hold your breath in for 1-5 seconds and then exhale completely. This completes 1 round. Take a short break.
- Work your way up to doing 5 rounds.
Guided Intermediate Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama (Bellows Breath):
- Once you feel comfortable with the Beginner’s version of Bellows Breath perform the breathing exercise at a faster pace now, about 1 breath per second. Also, breathe more forcefully if possible.
- Increase the number of repetitions slowly till you reach about 50 repetitions per round.
- At the end of every round, don’t forget to inhale completely and hold your breath. Build up this period of breath retention as well to about 15 seconds.
- You should still take a short break between rounds.
Guided Advanced Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama (Bellows Breath):
- Build up the pace and power with which you do this breathing exercise to almost 2 breaths per second.
- Increase the period of breath retention at the end of every round to 30 seconds. Still continue to take a break between rounds though.
Secret of Bhastrika Yoga Pranayama (Bellows Breath):
The final goal of Yoga is to awaken Kundalini Shakti (latent human potential energy) and Bhastrika Pranayama is one of the most effective breathing exercises for stimulating and raising this energy in you. Think of Kundalini as smoldering embers deep within you and think of Bhastrika as waves of prana stoking and igniting these embers. Be ready to handle the inferno!