What is Bhatrika Pranayma?
The ancient art of yoga, almost 5,000 years old, combines physical asanas, concentration, and deep breathing techniques (pranayama). Together these lay the foundation of the subtle yogic science that’s aimed to create harmony between your mind and body.
Out of these, pranayama, considered to be the vital energy force, is laid a particular emphasis on. Pranayama is considered to be the universal life force that nourishes your mind and body. It involves the process of consciously controlling your breathing to control your pranic energy.
There are 8 types of pranayama, including bhastrika pranayama, with bhastrika meaning ‘bellows’. This is a tool that is used by blacksmiths to melt metal by blowing hot air over it. Taking from the same principle, bhastrika pranayama means surging a flow of air into the body that produces heat and energy to strengthen your mind and body.
Also referred to as the ‘yogic breath of fire’, bhastrika yoga is especially beneficial for people of the kapha (water) orientation.
How is Bhastrika Pranayama done?
Wondering how to start practicing bhastrika breathing technique? Here are bhastrika pranayama steps in detail:
- Sit in Padmasana (Lotus Pose), keeping your spine erect.
- Close your eyes and place your palms on your knees. Your palms must be facing up in the prapthi mudra.
- Inhale normally without too much force or effort.
- Exhale with a short, forceful, and rhythmic breath as if you are trying to clear your nostrils.
- As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles while pulling your belly inward.
- Release your contracted abdominal muscles while you inhale.
- Start by inhaling and exhaling slowly and gradually build up the speed and intensity. After some time your inhaling and exhaling must mimic the action of panting.
- Start by practicing bhastrika technique 2-3 times and gradually take it to at least 30 times a day.
You can also couple bhastrika pranayama steps with these arm and shoulder movements:
- Close your palms to make fists.
- When you begin bhastrika asana, inhale, raise your arm and open the fist while expanding your chest and abdomen.
- Exhale and bring your arms back at shoulder level and close the fists.
- The arm and shoulder movements must correspond with the speed of your breathing.
What are the benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama?
Bhastrika pranayama gives your body a sudden boost of life-sustaining oxygen and energy through rapid inhalation and exhalation of breath.
This has tremendous benefits for your physiological health and state of mind and helps you in living a happier and disease-free life. It focuses on balancing the three doshas- kapha, vata, and pitta.
Here are some of the most important bhastrika pranayama benefits:
- An essential bhastrika pranayama benefit is that like other techniques of yoga, this also emphasizes eliminating the root cause of the problem instead of offering a temporary solution. This makes its benefits subtle yet long-lasting.
- By making your breathing deeper and longer, bhastrika yoga helps oxygenate your blood. This keeps your organs functioning optimally by nourishing them with oxygen and nutrients.
- Bhastrika asana, by improving the blood flow to your brain, reduces stress and anxiety. It keeps your mind calm and helps you react better to stressful triggers.
- A great bhastrika benefit, especially for those who suffer from respiratory issues like cold, flu, and seasonal allergies. It clears congestion from your nose, sinuses, and throat.
- An important bhastrika benefit is that it oxygenates your brain and nervous system. This improves your cognitive abilities and improves your concentration, memory, and focus. When practiced regularly, bhastrika pranayama prevents neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Bhastrika kriya stimulates your digestive organs and prevents stomach-related problems such as bloat, flatulence, and constipation.
- It reduces your dependence on medicines and other invasive treatments that are not just more time-consuming and expensive but also painful.
- Bhastrika asana through its vigorous breathing technique fills your body with energy. This flow of energy keeps you active and fresh, and enhances your and productivity.
- This is an effective breathing technique of yoga for women who suffer from hormonal imbalances.
How many types of Bhastrika Pranayama are there?
Depending on the rate of breathing and its frequency, there are three types of bhastrika pranayama. These include:
- Slow pace (Samanaya gati): This involves practicing bhastrika pranayama at one breath per two seconds. This is recommended for people who suffer from age-related heart or blood pressure problems.
- Medium pace (Madhyam gati): This is when bhastrika breathing is done at one breath per second and is advisable for experienced yoga practitioners.
- Fast pace (Teevre gati): This bhastrika breathing technique is practiced at three to four breaths per second, especially by advanced yoga practitioners. People suffering from back pain, hernia, or heart diseases must avoid this type of bhastrika pranayama technique.
What are some precautions that you need to observe while doing Bhastrika Pranayama?
Though bhastrika kriya has tremendous health benefits, its contraindications need to be kept in mind. These include:
- Bhastrika pranayama yoga for beginners must be practiced only after learning it from an experienced practitioner to avoid injuries and fatigue. You can also take online yoga classes to learn its correct technique.
- Pregnant women must avoid Bhastrika pranayama.
- People suffering from heart diseases, high blood pressure, hernia, back pain must avoid doing the vigorous bhastrika pranayama steps.
- It should be stopped immediately if you feel dizzy or nauseous.
- Practice it on an empty stomach in the early morning hours.
- Never practice bhastrika pranayama when you have a fever, cold, flu or are experiencing extreme stress at the moment.
Which are some other breathing techniques that you can do?
Besides bhastrika pranayama, other major breathing techniques include:
- Nadi Sodhana: Known as ‘“alternate nostril breathing”, it is an excellent energy balancing technique.
- Ujjayi pranayama: It mimics the sounds of ocean waves and is helpful in meditation.
- Kapalbhati: This is used to build vibrational pranic energy in the body and is very effective for expanding the lungs.
- Bhramari Pranayama: Known as ‘humming bee breath’, this is used to calm the mind and relieve stress.
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