Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows Breath): Steps & Benefits of Bhastrika Breathing 

If you want to know what Bhastrika Pranayama is you are in the right place! With this article we are going to learn the steps and the benefits of this breathing techniques made easy! Let’s start by saying that in Sanskrit, Bhastrika means "bellows". Just as the blacksmith blows the bellows to create heat and purify iron, Bhastrika serves to purify the mind and blocks it. Bhastrika is mentioned in two important yoga texts, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and Gheranda Samhita.

Benefits of Bhastrika Breathing

Bhastrika consists of a quick inhalation and an exhalation. This helps increase blood circulation throughout the body. During rapid and forced exhalation, the chest is compressed, thus pushing the blood towards the head. During inhalation, the opposite occurs. This process increases blood flow to every part of the body, increasing the vitality of all organs and tissues. 

Practice for long periods Bhastrika Pranayama purifies the body and awakens dormant mind faculties. 

During Bhastrika, the increase in blood flow causes a slight increase in body temperature, accompanied by mild sweating which reduces the temperature and keeps the body at a normal temperature. 

Most pranayama techniques increase or decrease the body temperature, but Bhastrika Pranayama more or less manages to keep it constant or bring it back to normal. Practicing it will also have the effect of increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Preparation for practice:

Sit comfortably in your meditative position with your hands on your knees and with your eyes closed. Take a deep, slow breath. Breathe out quickly and forcefully through your nose, but don't force yourself; inhale immediately afterwards with the same force.

When you exhale, the stomach retracts and the diaphragm narrows. When you inhale, the diaphragm relaxes and the stomach moves forward. This movement should be emphasized somewhat. Continue to inhale like this, counting to ten. So relax and without opening your eyes, focus on normal breathing.
Do three to five cycles. As you learn this breathing mode, gradually increase your speed while maintaining the rhythm of your breathing.
The time of inhalation and exhalation should be the same.

Bhastrika breathing steps

- Sit comfortably in your meditative posture and prepare for Pranayama.
- With your right hand, perform Nasikagra Mudra and close the right nostril.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril, then exhale and inhale 20 times.
- After the last one, inhale slowly and deeply, close both nostrils, tilt your head forward in the Jalandhara Bandha, without lifting your shoulders.
- Hold your breath for as long as you see fit.
- Raise your head and slowly exhale through the right nostril.
- Take a deep breath through the right nostril and then practice as you did by breathing through the left nostril 20 times.
- After the last exhalation, inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril.
- After inhaling, close both nostrils and perform Jalandhara, breath holding and relaxation, as you did before.
- Practice on both sides is a cycle. Do 3 loops.

The practice of Bhastrika Pranayama can be considered as a combination of Kapalabhati and Ujjayi pranayama. The exhalation is similar to that in Kapalabhati and the inhalation is similar to that performed in Ujjayi pranayama. Once you have practiced Kapalabhati and Ujjayi, Bhastrika will be easy for you. Bhastrika can be practiced both in the morning and in the evening. During the summer, if the temperature is high, you should limit the practice only to the morning or to the cooler hours. This Pranayama is considered an advanced practice and must be done on an empty stomach, and especially after the morning evacuations.

It is not recommended to practice it if you have heart disease or even if you have breathing problems. Bhastrika Pranayama is one of the most powerful practices you may encounter so try to practice it under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor.

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