The practice of yoga is not limited only to asanas (postures). Indeed this discipline also includes guidelines for life, meditation and pranayama.
Pranayama – prana means “life force” and yama means “control” – is considered the link between body and soul. Breathing is directly related to the brain and nervous system.
In the tradition of yoga, the lifespan of a human being depends, among other things, on how he or she breathes. We are born with a set number of breaths for the rest of our lives. Yogis thus always seek to obtain a slow and steady breath.
Pranayamas are numerous and each have their own benefits. We will study more precisely Bhastrika, also called Bellows Breath, is a pranayama that can be practiced daily. In its initial form it is an abdominal breathing but in this article we will discuss the variant of thoracic Bhastrika.
The next time you feel tired, lacking energy, instead of taking a stimulant such as coffee or tea, try an energetic breathing practice instead. It is a yoga traditional breathing exercise that helps to increase your prana or life force. It is often used to energize the body and clarify the mind.
How to practice Bhastrika
Method 1 to practice Bhastrika:
Never lie down for this pranayama. Eyes closed, cross-legged, with your back straight. Breathe in heavily through both nostrils at the same time and exhale heavily. The abdomen is passive and the shoulders remain stable. Alternate leg crossing after a break and repeat. You can view the exercise in this short video:
Method 2 to practice Bhastrika:
It is the same posture with digital pranayama (using fingers) but only one nostril at a time.
– Close the left nostril. Breathe in by the right in force and breathe out by the right in force.
-Breathe in and out normally through both nostrils once.
– Close the right nostril. Breathe in from the left in force and breathe out from the left in force.
Repeat changing the crossover of the legs.
Duration: for beginners 7 cycles of 7 full breaths (do not exceed 10). For experienced yogis: 21 cycles.
Benefits of Bhastrika pranayama
- improves digestion, invigorates and energizes the brain and body
- frees the sinuses
- activates and strengthens the liver, spleen, pancreas and abdominal muscles
- increases the body’s internal heat, which is beneficial in winter
- lungs, nervous system, cough, bronchitis, asthma.
Additional tips about Bhastrika
Do not practice in case of: high blood pressure, pregnancy, glaucoma, heart problems, migraine pregnancy, before going to sleep.
In excess: stop the practice in case of headaches or discomfort.
- Before Bhastrika: For a better benefit, practice Kapalabhati or Anulom Vilom.
- After Bhastrika: practice Surya pranayama to help the heat produced to circulate through pingala nadi (energy channel).
For Ayurveda: Bhastrika is a heating pranayama and is beneficial for Vata and Kapha.
Written by Chloé & Sarah from Premanand Yoga and Ayurveda for Yogadvisor.
Discover all the yoga and meditation activities offered by Chloé and Sarah: www.yogadvisor.yoga/author/chloe/