Bhastrika pranayama

Anatomy of bhastrika breathing

The meaning of the Sanskrit word Bhastrika pranayama is the ‘bellows breath’. Ujjayi, Shitali, Viloma, kapalabhati, Anuloma, Bhastrika, and Bhramari are forms of pranayama. Bhastrika pranayama is all about inhaling and exhaling completely so that your body gets maximum amount of oxygen. Bhastrika pranayama can be done by following these steps

  • Sit in a comfortable posture. Padmasana (crossed leg) and Vajrasana  (kneeling) are the ideal yoga poses to practice pranayama. Place your hands on your knees. Feel relaxed. Focus on your breathing.
  • Breathe in by inhaling forcefully through both the nostrils. Make sure that your lungs are full with air. Once you inhale fully, exhale with great force making hissing sound.
  • In Bhastrika pranayama one needs to apply force while breathing in and breathing out.
  • When you breathe in while performing Bhastrika pranayama, your abdominal should not blow up. Instead your chest area should blow up. Repeat the procedure for 5 to 10 times.
  • You have successfully completed Bhastrika pranayama.

Benefits of Bhastrika pranayama

  • Helps to throw out toxins and cures illnesses of respiratory track
  • The Bellows breath activates and invigorates the liver, pancreas, spleen and abdominal muscles, thus toning the digestive system and improving digestion.
  • During Bhastrika there is an increase in the exchange of oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into and out of the bloodstream, thus purifies the blood. This action stimulates the metabolic rate, producing heat and flushing toxins and waste out of the body.
  • This breathing strengthens and balances the nervous system, bringing peace and tranquillity to the mind in preparation for meditation; it helps to keep negative thoughts away.
  • Increases warmth in the body.
  • Those who have high blood pressure or heart disease should not practice Bhastrika pranayama
  • Be aware of hyperventilating, and built your capacity slowly.
  • Too much stoking burns out the boiler of the engine. So also too much practice of Bhastrika wears out the system as the breathing process is forceful – BKS Iyengar.

Muscles used in bhastrika pranayama;

  • Diaphragm; the prime mover for inhalation and exhalation; contracting it expands the chest, relaxing it makes the chest cavity smaller.
  • Intercostal muscles between your ribs contract when inhale, and with exhalation they relax.
  • The lungs are elastic and expand when the diaphragm contracts during inhalation. Like a balloon, the lungs passively empty during exhalation.
  • The scapulas are retracted with the rhomboids, opening the chest.  Sit straight using the erector spinae, contract the rectus abdominis to balance.
  • Contracting the pectoralis minor and the sternocleidomastoid lift and opens the ribcage like a bellow.