Bhastrika literally means bellows–a device used for emitting a stream of air into fire by blacksmiths. In Bhastrika Pranayama you use lungs like bellows to hyperventilate your body. This Pranayama is good for beginning all other yogic exercises. It goes without saying that similar to other exercises it must be done on empty stomach or after about 5 hours of eating. But avoid doing it when you feel too hungry. It’s better if you warm your body up by walking or by using any other warm-up routines. You can practice it sitting in a comfortable posture or standing upright. I find it easier when standing with my feets apart about the distance between the shoulders. You should keep your fists closed. You should try to take deep breaths in and out–as deep as possible and as fast as possible. Fill air deeply into your chest in diaphragm during inhalation and then exhale a bit forcefully completely emptying your stomach. This would use all your chest and stomach areas involved in breathing together. This is Bhastrika Pranayama and it makes you feel altered states of consciousness without using any drugs. If you overdo it you might start feeling dizzy therefore don’t throw caution to the wind. Doing 12 repetitions per minute would make you capable of doing about 60 cycles in 5 minutes–you should not do it more than that without practicing it gradually over the time. It’s better to learn it directly from your Yoga teacher or from a friend who has an experience with this practice.
Advantages of Bhastrika are most obvious. You would feel that blood circulation has improved. Flexibility of stomach muscles is increased which allows you to easily practice other stretching exercises. You would feel more energetic throughout the day. Your memory and attention span would improve. You would also feel more connected to yourself-to your inner being. You would feel harmonious with your surroundings and mental noise will lessen. Apnea and other breathing disorders would soon get removed and you would enjoy a more relaxing sleep. Cough, cold, sinus and other ailments would be cured over the time with this wonderful practice. The more alert you are during the routine, better your experience would be. Try to stay conscious of your breathing. In the long run Bhastrika not only helps cure all the diseases but also helps untie all three knots in the path of Kundalini. It breaks Bramha, Vishnu and Rudra knots and helps you get self-realization.
A word of caution: If you’ve a heart condition or hypertension please don’t practice Bhastrika Pranayama. In any case, it’s always better to practice it only after consulting your physician and as said above please don’t overdo it. Avoid getting sprain in your chest or stomach muscles by being as conscious of breathing as possible.
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