Bhastrika Pranayama - The Bellow's Breath

Bhastrika Pranayama or the Bellow’s Breath is one of the main forms of Pranayama. In Sanskrit, Bhastrika means the ‘bellows ’. Just as the blacksmith blows his bellows to create heat and purify iron, Bhastrika is said to purify the mind and clear pranic blocks. Bhastrika is mentioned in the yoga texts Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and the Gheranda Samhita.
Bhastrika Pranayama | HealthInsta

Bhastrika pranayama or the Bellow's Breath is one of the main forms of pranayama, which resembles the blowing of bellows. 

In sanskrit,

Bhastrika = Bellows

Bhastrika involves both rapid inhalation as well as exhalation which gives a boost to the body.

Bhastrika is similar to Kapalbhati but differ from it in two fundamental ways. Kapalbhati is a breathing technique that involves the stomach. Bhastrika, on the other hand, is done through the chest and engages the lungs. In Bhastrika, unlike Kapalbhati, both inhalation and exhalation are forced.

How to Do Bhastrika Pranayama

  1. Sit in any steady asana. Padmasana, Siddasana and Vajrasana are ideal for the practice.
  2. Keep the body erect and close the mouth.
  3. Inhale and exhale in rapid succession. During this process a hissing sound is produced.
  4. Start with 10 inhalations and exhalations per round. It can be increased over a period of time. Some practitioners even do it till they get perspiration.
  5. Do three such rounds of Bhastrika. Between the rounds, rest for a while, till the breathing comes back to normal. If you are short of time, practice at least one round which is good enough to maintain fitness.
Some practice Bhastrika along with Kumbhaka (holding of the breath) at the end of the last exhalation. To do this, take a deep breath after the last exhalation and hold the breath inside for as long as comfortable. Then exhale and start breathing normally. This will constitute one round.

Benefits

  • Bhastrika pranayama increases the oxygen content in the blood. Extra oxygen replenishes the entire body.
  • It removes blockages in the nose and chest.
  • It is good for asthma patients and removes inflammation of the throat.
  • The forceful breathing increases the gastric fire and improves appetite.
  • Bhastrika when practiced with Kumbhaka can generate heat in the body and keep it warm in cold weather.
  • It improves general health and activates all the organs.
  • Bhastrika purifies the nadis or the energy (pranic) channels in the body, ensuring free flow of prana to all the organs in the body.

Contra-Indications

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Hernia
  • Gastric ulcer
  • Epilepsy
  • Nose bleeds
  • Recent abdominal surgery

Note : Bhastrika can be practiced both in the morning and evening (on an empty stomach). During summer, if the temperature is high, the practice should be restricted to mornings only.