Bhastrika Pranayama is one the major breathing practices outlined in the ancient Yoga text Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Bellows Breathing, as it is called in English, clears the mind and eliminates Pranic blockages, enabling a compelling spiritual life. Also, it has some mind-blowing physical and psychological benefits as well. Catch up with us as we guide you through this powerful breathing method.

Bhastrika Pranayama
Bhastrika Pranayama

Benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama

In simple words, Bellows Breathing is dynamic practice with continuous, rapid, and stress-free forceful inhalations and exhalations. Many teachers refer to the process as a combination of Ujjayi and Kapalbhati. The inhalations are long and profound like Ujjayi, and the exhalations are powerful ones. The abdomen moves into the rib cage with the out breaths. These powerful movements trigger better blood circulation and detoxification, thus enhancing the overall health.

The physical benefits of this breathing technique include:

  • Detoxification of blood
  • Better metabolism
  • Massaging and stimulating the visceral organs
  • Easing digestive woes, including constipation
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Toning digestive system
  • Promoting belly fat burning
  • Reducing the levels of carbon dioxide in blood
  • Alleviating phlegm accumulation from chest
  • Improves appetite

Bellow breathing offers the following emotional and psychological benefits.

  • Less stress
  • Better peace and tranquility
  • Enhanced focus and concentration

Bhramari Pranayama also help you relieve your stress.

On a spiritual level, this breathing

  • Eliminates the blocks from the nadis, setting the stage for deeper meditation
  • Beneficial for Muladhara (Root), Svadhisthana (Sacral), and Manipura (Solar Plexus) chakras
  • Helps to release and let go things that do not serve a person’s highest good
  • Inculcates a sense of self-confidence

Before we look at how to practice Bellows Breathing, let’s look at the primary differences between Kapalbhati and Bhastrika Pranayama.

Differences between Kapalbhati and Bhastrika Pranayama

Even though many teachers and practitioners tend to use these terms interchangeably, they are different.

Kapalbhati, essentially, is forceful exhalations. The inhalations are passive in this Pranayama. Bhastrika incorporates strong inhalations and exhalations.

In fact, the former breathing technique is a part of the latter one. In both cases, the body remains relaxed. There is no force or strain involved.

According to various yoga texts, Kapalbhati is a Shatkarama or cleansing practice while Bhastrika is a Pranayama.

In short, the fundamental difference lies in the style of breathing in and breathing out. Once you master the same, you will be able to practice both with ease.

How to do Bhastrika Pranayama?

 

There are many variations of this breathing system. While the basic one comprises just inhalations and exhalations using both nostrils, one can practice it with one nostril at a time. Advanced practitioners can experiment with Antar Khumbaka or breath retention and Bahir Khumbaka or breath suspension.

Bellow Breathing Techniques for Beginners

Basic Technique

  1. Sit down in a comfortable seated posture, preferably Sukhasana. If the practitioner uses a chair, he/she should ensure that the spine is upright and straight.
  2. Rest the palm on the knees, palms facing the ceiling. Let the tips of index and thumb be in contact.
  3. Close the eyes and relax the entire body by taking a couple of deep breaths, in and out through the nose.
  4. Take a deep inhalation and breathe out forcefully through the nose. Without pausing, continue the deep inhalation and exhalation cycles. Allow the abdomen to expand completely during the inhalation. Let the muscles of the abdomen contract into the ribcage.
  5. Ideally, during the inhalation, the diaphragm moves down, and the stomach swells up. As the practitioner exhales, the reverse happens.
  6. Continue breathing, in the same way, n times.
  7. Take a slow, deep breathe in and gently exhale completely.

This is one round. Practice 5 rounds.

Tips

  • Do not forcefully increase the speed of inhalations and exhalations during the initial days of the practice. Once accustomed, feel free to increase the speed. But at the same time, make sure that inhalations and exhalations are equal. The breath must be rhythmic.
  • Do not strain the abdomen and diaphragm.
  • People with hypertension should avoid this practice.
  • Do not practice the breathing technique if there is a previous history of asthma or heart issues or fever.
  • Restrict the practice during pregnancy and menstruation.
  • Avoid the practice if there is a hernia or diastasis recti or any significant gastrointestinal complaints.
  • Rest the back against a wall to support the back and prevent spasms during the practice.
  • Do not practice the Pranayama on a full stomach. Make sure there is at least three-hour gap between meal and the practice.

Bhastrika the Pranayama with Alternate Nostrils

  1. Sit down in a comfortable seated posture, preferably Sukhasana. If the practitioner sits on the chair, he/she should ensure that the spine is upright and straight.
  2. Rest the palm on the knees, palms facing the ceiling. Let the tips of index and thumb be in contact.
  3. Close the eyes and relax the entire body by taking a couple of deep breaths, in and out through the nose.
  4. Close the right nostril with the right thumb.
  5. Inhale and exhale forcefully through the left nostril ten times, flapping the abdomen as mentioned in the Basic technique.
  6. Open the right nostril and take three rounds of deep inhalations and exhalations.
  7. Now close the left nostril using the right index finger and repeat the same process ten times.
  8. Open the left nostril and complete through rounds of deep breaths with both nostrils.
  9. Now practice the Basic Bellow Breathing Technique 10 times. Follow up with deep breathing.

This is one round. Practice up to five such rounds.

Bellow Breathing – Advanced Techniques

We’ll be looking at Bhastrika with breath retention and breath suspension.

Bellows Breathing with Antar Khumbaka

Note: Practice this technique only after mastering the one with alternate nostrils.

  1. Sit down in a comfortable seated posture, preferably Sukhasana. If the practitioner uses a chair, he/she should ensure that the spine is upright and straight.
  2. Rest the palm on the knees, palms facing the ceiling. Let the tips of index and thumb be in contact.
  3. Close the eyes and relax the entire body by taking a couple of deep breaths, in and out through the nose.
  4. Close the right nostril with the right thumb.
  5. Inhale and exhale forcefully through the left nostril ten times, flapping the abdomen as mentioned in the Basic technique.
  6. Inhale deeply through the left nostril, close the left, and retain the breath for a count of four.
  7. Open the left nostril and exhale completely through the left.
  8. Take three rounds of deep inhalations and exhalations through both nostrils.
  9. Close the left nostril and repeat the technique as explained from steps 5 through 8.
  10. Practice the Basic Bhastrika technique ten times by inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils.
  11. Take a deep, long inhalation, close both the nostrils and retain the breath for a count of four.
  12. Open the both nostrils and exhale slowly and fully.

This completes one round. Practice up to five rounds.

Tips: Increase the retention time to 60 seconds with regular practice.

Bhastrika Pranayama with Bahir Khumbaka

The method is similar to the practiced mentioned under the Alternate Nostril Bellow Breathing. The sole difference lies in the fact that the practitioner suspends the breath at the end of each round.

  1. Sit down in a comfortable seated posture, preferably Sukhasana. If the practitioner sits on a chair, he/she should ensure that the spine is upright and straight.
  2. Rest the palm on the knees, palms facing the ceiling. Let the tips of index and thumb be in contact.
  3. Close the eyes and relax the entire body by taking a couple of deep breaths, in and out through the nose.
  4. Close the right nostril with the right thumb.
  5. Inhale and exhale forcefully through the left nostril ten times, flapping the abdomen as mentioned in the Basic technique.
  6. Open the right nostril and take three rounds of deep inhalations and exhalations.
  7. Now close the left nostril using the right index finger and repeat the same process ten times.
  8. Open the left nostril and complete through rounds of deep breaths with both nostrils.
  9. Now practice the Basic Bellow Breathing Technique 10 times. Follow up with deep breathing.
  10. Inhale deeply through both the nostrils and exhale completely. Suspend the breath, engaging the abdominal muscles, for a count of four.
  11. Slowly, release the suspension and inhale and exhale.
  12. This is one round. Practice up to five such rounds.

Deepening Bhasktrika with Bandhas

Bandhas are great additions to any Pranayama practice. It helps the practitioner advance through spiritual levels easier. One can practice Jalandhara Bandha and Moola Bandha [the chin and root locks respectively] with the advanced methods mentioned above.

For Bellow Breathing with breath retention, perform the Jalandhara Bandha and Moola Bandha after retaining the breath at the end of each round.

In the same manner, for bellow breathing with breath suspension, practice the Bandhas after suspending the breath at the end of each round.

Note: Never attempt to practice Bandhas before mastering Breath Retention and Suspension. Avoid the practice if there is any medical condition.

Be extremely careful while practicing Bhastrika Pranayama as it generates intense body heat. It is advisable to practice it during early mornings before sunrise to reap the benefits.

 

 

 

 

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I’ve always been enthusiastic about discovering myself, the life and the people. I realize that I have to live in the present moment in order to do that better. This is the mindfulness. Yoga has become the part of my life for more than 5 years. I also completed my teacher training program (RYT 200, Yoga Alliance) and I wanted to share my experiences with everyone. I believe that the articles on YogaArt.com can help you reach out to the mindful state. Yoga is the Art of Mindfulness. Let's be present together. Namaste!

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