Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

The Sanskrit word bhastrika means 'bellows'. Thus, bhastrika pranayama is also known as the bellows breath because of the fact that the air is drawn forcefully in and out of the lungs. This breathing exercise resembles the blowing of bellows.

As the blowing of bellows increases the flow of air into the fire which in return produces more heat, similarly, bhastrika pranayama increases the flow of air into the body thereby producing more inner heat which helps in alleviating many diseases as well as very helpful at the mental, emotional and subtle levels as it invigorates and rejuvenates mind and body.

Steps To Practice Bhastrika Pranayama Or Breath Of Fire

To practice Bhastrika pranayama, one must ideally get into Padmasana or the Lotus pose. If you do not have the flexibility to get into Padmasana, you can sit in any of the easier sitting yogasanas like Vajrasana or Sukhasana.

Preparatory Practice:

  • To practice Bhastrika pranayama, one must get into Padmasana or any sitting posture of your choice.
  • Once you are in Padmasana or any sitting position of your choice, inhale and exhale deeply two to three times.
  • Keep your head and spine straight while sitting and close the eyes and relax the whole body.
  • Inhale deeply and breathe out forcefully through the nose.
  • Do not strain or jerk in your body while breathing in and breathing out.
  • Breathe in immediately after exhalation.
  • Breathing should be proper in a way that the abdomen moves outward while inhalation and inwards while exhalation.
  • Practice the same breathing pattern for up to 5 rounds.
  • Keep your eyes closed and focus on the breathing.

Bhastrika Pranayama From Left Nostril:

  • Close your right nostril with the thumb of your hand.
  • Keep breathing in the same pattern as mentioned above.
  • Make sure that you do not expand the chest or raise the shoulders and the body should not be jerked while practicing.
  • While exhaling a hush sound will come from the left nostril but make sure no sound comes from the throat or chest.
  • After practicing the Bhastrika breathing with right nostril closed, inhale deeply from the left nostril while keeping the right nostril closed.
  • Inhale as deeply as you can while expanding both the chest and abdomen and close both nostrils and hold the breath inside.
  • Retain the breath for a few seconds.
  • And in the end, exhale through the left nostril.

Bhastrika Pranayama From Right Nostril:

  • Close your left nostril with the thumb of your hand.
  • Keep breathing in the same pattern as mentioned above.
  • Make sure that you do not expand the chest or raise the shoulders and the body should not be jerked while practicing.
  • While exhaling a hush sound will come from the left nostril but make sure no sound comes from the throat or chest.

Bhastrika Pranayama From Both Nostrils:

  • Keep both nostrils open while doing bhastrika pranayama.
  • Inhale and exhale as deeply and forcefully as you can.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils.
  • And then, close both nostrils and retain the breath for a few seconds or for as long as you can.
  • Breathe out slowly through both nostrils while making a sound with the exhalation.
  • This completes one round of Bhastrika pranayama. Keep practicing the same pattern for 5 to 7 times.

Breathing While Practicing Bhastrika Pranayama

  • Bhastrika pranayama can be practiced at three different paces of breathing: slow, medium and fast depending on the level of practice.
  • Slow bhastrika pranayama is practiced with one breath in two seconds without making or keeping the breath forceful. You are supposed to breathe naturally in slow paced bhastrika pranayama. This can be practiced by beginners.
  • In medium bhastrika, the pace of breathing is increased with approximately one breath every second.
  • In fast bhastrika the breathing speed is comparatively rapid with two breaths per second. It is generally practiced by advanced practitioners. The abdominal muscles will become stronger with regular practice.

Duration of Bhastrika Pranayama Practice:

Bhastrika pranayama should be practiced for up to 5 rounds. With practice, the pace of breathing is to be increased and the abdominal movements can be fastened. Time of retention of breath in both nostrils is to be increased with practice. Do not strain. Stay aware of the breathing process and the movement of the abdomen. The spiritual awareness should be on the manipura chakra.

Benefits Of Practicing Bhastrika Pranayama:

  • Bhastrika Pranayama is beneficial in refreshing the body and mind and has a rejuvenating effect on the body.
  • It is said that with regular practice of this pranayama, one’s memory is increased and sharpened.
  • Blood circulation is also improved with regular practice of Bhastrika pranayama.
  • As the blood supply is improved, practitioners will feel improvement in eyesight and hearing.
  • When proper breathing techniques are followed, it strengthens the lungs and it is beneficial for people suffering from bronchitis, as the respiratory system is quickly and deeply purified.
  • It also helps in improving the digestive system thereby improving metabolism of the body. With increased metabolism, the tendency of the body to break fats is increased.
  • It is also beneficial in in healing the diseases solar plexus and Manipura chakra.
  • This practice burns up toxins and removes diseases of the doshas or humours: kapha, phlegm; pitta, bile; and vata, wind.
  • With the rapid exchange of air in the lungs, Bhastrika pranayama allows an increase in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of the bloodstream. It results in stimulation of metabolic rate, producing heat and flushing out of toxins from the body.
  • It is also very beneficial for pregnant women as when it is practiced properly while pregnancy it helps a lot during the labor.
  • Bhastrika pranayama is a very good medication for people suffering from lung disorders like Asthma, bronchitis and other disorders as it expels carbon dioxide out of the body.
  • It also reduces the accumulation of phlegm in the throat when practiced regularly as it helps in reducing inflammation in the throat.
  • It balances and strengthens the nervous system.
  • It also gives a sense of relief, peace and tranquility and prepares one for the meditation. After the practice, you will feel the stress and depression leaving the body.
  • It is also believed that with regular practice, it improves the complexion by elimination of the toxins and impurities from the body.

Precautions To Be Taken While Practicing Bhastrika Pranayama

  • You might feel a little dizzy or pukish sensation after practicing Bhastrika pranayama because of excessive perspiration. So it is advised to not make very loud sounds while inhaling during the practice.
  • Facial contortions and excessive shaking of the body should be avoided while practicing Bhastrika pranayama. But after repeated practice, you experience that you cannot stop these signs, you must consult a trained yoga expert for guidance.
  • Bhastrika pranayama consumes a lot of physical energy during the practice, so it is advised for the beginners to take small rest in between rounds while practicing. Also, it should be practiced slowly and people should not rush into doing it very fast or rushing into advanced practice as you can reap maximum benefits from the practice by doing it slowly.

Contra-Indications While Practicing Bhastrika Pranayama

  • Bhastrika should not be practiced by people who suffer from high blood pressure.
  • People with heart disease should also not practice this pranayama.
  • People suffering from hernia, gastric ulcer, stroke, epilepsy or vertigo should also not practice Bhastrika pranayama.
  • Bhastrika pranayama should not be practiced by people suffering from lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis.
  • People who have tuberculosis or are recovering from it are advised to practice it under guidance of a trained yoga expert.
  • One must be aware of the abdominal breathing technique before attempting to practice advanced version of Bhastrika pranayama or even bhastrika also.
  • Advanced practitioners can combine moola bandha and jalandhara bandha once they have mastered Bhastrika pranayama for best results. Both the nostrils must be clear while practicing bhastrika pranayama.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 13, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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