A ‘How To’ And ‘Why To’ Guide
Bhastrika Pranayama (in Sanskrit: bellow-breathing) consists of a breathing exercise where both exhalation and inhalation are active. This is in opposition to exercises like Kaphalabhati (a kriya) in which only exhalation is active and inhalation is a passive reflex.
During Bhastrika Pranayama, the aim is to inhale as much air as possible and exhale as much air as possible, forcefully. In doing so, instead of inflating the belly, it is required to inflate the thorax, allowing the rib-cage to visibly expand sideways.
Through this process, Bhastrika Pranayama allows for a greater inhalation of oxygen – compared to regular, normal breath.
This has some benefits on the physical body, including a strengthening of the lungs, balancing any one of the three Doshas (or ayurvedic body-types), purifying the blood and the body from toxins, as well as increasing the temperature of the body slightly. This encourages perspiration, which furthering the release of toxins, can help improve our immunity and heart function.
At the level of the energetic body, Bhastrika Pranayama can help purify the mind from negativity, and activate the solar plexus and Manipura chakra.
This sounds great, however, as Bhastrika Pranayama is a pretty powerful exercise, people with conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or fever should not practice it. Similarly, this exercise should be practiced only up to the number of rounds and repetitions recommended by your teacher, as a feeling of dizziness is a common side-effect (normally, 20 repetitions for 3-5 rounds).
M. Stella Scarpellini
YTT 200HR, March 2018