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Bhastrika Pranayama

Pranayama is the science of breath control. There are several varieties of Pranayamas and one of the important types is Bhastrika Pranayama. In Sanskrit, Bhastrika means Bellows. Just as a blacksmith blows his bellows rapidly, so also a rapid succession of forcible expulsions is a characteristic feature of this breathing. In fact Bhastrika is quite akin to Kapalbhati. For performing Kapalbhati, we breathe in very slowly and breathe out very speedily. But In Bhastrika pranayama air is rapidly and forcefully inhaled & exhaled one after another.


Sit in any comfortable posture with spine, head & neck straight. Rest the hands on the respective knees in Gyan Mudra posture. (Join the tips of the index fingers to the tips of the thumbs while keeping the other fingers loose). Close the eyes & look within. Feel the whole body relaxing.


Now bring the right palm in front of the face & bend first two fingers at the root of the thumb. Close your right nosril with the thumb. Start deep and forceful breathing in a steady rhythm through left nosrtil without straining yourself with equal emphasis on the inhalation and exhalation. With each inhalation the diaphragm descends & the abdomen moves outward. With each exhalation the diaphragm moves upwards & the abdomen moves inward. We have to coordinate the breath with stomach movements. You can begin with breathing in and breathing out 10 to 30 times or according to your body capacity. Gradually you can increase it.


When the required numbers of expulsions for one round are finished, breathe in deeply and press the chin on the chest and hold the breath as long as you feel comfortable. (Bhastrika breathing is a dynamic and highly energizing abdominal breathing exercise requiring a large expenditure of physical energy. To gain the energy back instantly, we are pressing the chin into the chest). Now raise the head up and breathe out slowly. It completes one round of Bhastrika. Take rest for a while by taking a few normal breaths. This will give you relief and make you fit for starting to the other side of the nostril.


Now do the same way with the right nostril by closing the left nostril with the ring finger. After finishing the round take rest for a while by taking a few normal breaths.


Now do the final stage of Bhastrika. Rest the hands on the respective knees in Gyan Mudra posture. Breathe in & out simultaneously with both the nostrils. After finishing the round take rest for a while by taking a few normal breaths so that you can get ready for the second round. Make two-three rounds. Bhastrika can be done both in the morning and evening in winter. In summer do it in the morning only during cool hours.


This Pranayama can be done in three variable speeds viz. slow speed, moderate speed and at high speed depending upon the capacity and health of an individual. Beginners & individuals with weak lungs and heart should do this at a slow speed while performing inhalation and exhalation A healthy individual should do it initially at a slow speed and as one gets used to it, gradually increase the speed to moderate and then high. This Pranayama should be done for 3 to 5 minutes.


The rapid and forceful exhalation and inhalation technique boosts our immune system by burning fat & also improves the capacity of our lungs by supplying plentiful oxygen to the lungs, thereby cleaning and strengthening our respiratory system.

· Bhastrika Pranayama relieves inflammation of the throat, increases gastric fire and destroys phlegm. Complete system, starting from the nose, complete trachea and deep upto the end of lungs right upto diaphragm becomes diseaseless, strong and gets endowed with greater working capacity.

· Desired effects for Bhastrika include an increase in ventilation, better circulation of blood and an increase in brain capacity thereby eliminating any mental disturbance thus refreshing the mind & body.

· It gives warmth to the body. Useful for those who feel more cold in winters.

· It produces heat in the body & increases appetite, destroys mucus, removes disorders of the respiratory system, useful in diabetes, asthma, sinus, improves efficiency of the nervous system, reduces fat in the abdominal region and enhances purity of consciousness. It purifies the Nadis considerably.

· Bhastrika Pranayama removes all diseases which arise from excess of wind, bile and phlegm & maintain their balance.


Beginners should practice this pranayama slowly at first, allowing their bodies time to adapt to the practice.

Those suffering from high blood pressure, any heart disease, hernia, gastric ulcers, vertigo, epilepsy, pregnant ladies & during menstruating should not do this Pranayama.

Those suffering from lung diseases such as asthma or poor lungs capacity or recovering from tuberculosis should do under expert guidance.

In summer season, reduce the frequency of this Pranayama.

If you are suffering from severe cough or sinus and both of your nostrils are not open, close the right nostril first and do respiration (exhalation as well as inhalation) through the left nostril forcefully. Then do the same with the other nostril. Continue this method till both the nostrils open simultaneously.

If you experience any giddiness, stop the practice and take a few normal breaths. Continue the practice after normalcy.

It is best to perform this yoga posture in the presence of a qualified yoga teacher.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna

Aum Shanti