Bhastrika Pranayama: Benefits, Breathing Patterns, and More
Bhastrika refers to what you will call a cleansing breath. It is a process of rapid and forceful inhalation and exhalation while using the diaphragm. Along with Kapalbhati, it is one of the important processes in Pranayama that helps you prepare for other ‘kriya’. Let’s get to know more about it.
How do you perform Bhastrika Pranayama then? What are the benefits of this process, and are there some precautions that you need to be taking when it comes to Bhastrika Pranayama? We are about to discuss it all. Not only that, but we are also about to discuss different variations you can try. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
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What is Bhastrika Pranayama?
Fondly called the yogic ‘breath of fire’, Bhastrika Pranayama helps you boost the oxygen in your system. On a regular day, you will need more oxygen when your heart beats faster after physical activity or a gym session. With Bhastrika Pranayama, you can get it without your body undergoing a strenuous muscle activity in the first place.
How will this help you? With the added oxygen, the body will get a boost of energy as well as metabolism rate. As we mentioned before, it also enables you to prepare for other breathing exercises, Yoga poses, and other activities. Many people use it as a cleansing process, as the forced exhalation will push the carbon dioxide out of your system.
Therefore, it can be used as a preparation or warming up or a clean energy boost if that is what you are looking for.
It is different from Kapalbhati as it emphasises on both inhaling and exhaling. Kapalbhati prominently depends on passive breathing through an emphasis on exhalation. The exhalation in Kapalbhati is done through the abdominal wall, wherein Bhastrika Pranayama, breathing is done through the ‘chest’.
Bhastrika Pranayama Steps
Now, there are many ways you can practice the Bhastrika Pranayam. However, here, we will discuss the most used method. Here are the steps to perform the Bhastrika Pranayama.
- Sit on the floor or mat in the cross-legged position, in the pose of Vajrasana.
- It is generally advised to perform any Pranayama activity while sitting upright and straight spine, as it will make room for a proper diaphragmatic movement.
- Place your arms near your shoulders, with hands folded in fists.
- Now, inhale deeply and lift your hands straight up while opening up your fists.
- Exhale forcefully, bring your arms back down next to your shoulders, and close your fists at the same time.
This cycle should continue for 20 breaths. It is now time to rest your palms on the thighs and take a few normal breaths. You can do as many rounds of this as you please, but two more rounds are suggested.
This is it! All you need to do when you want to ‘cleanse’ or need a boost of energy. Now that you know how it is performed, let’s move on to the benefits of doing Bhastrika Pranayama.
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Bhastrika Pranayama Benefits
Apart from the obvious ones mentioned above, there are tons of benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama. Here we have made a list of all the prominent ones that you should know about:
- Bhastrika Pranayama helps you to energise your whole body and mind.
- Not only will it help you boost your energy, but it can also help you calm your mind.
- Bhastrika Pranayama will help you strengthen your abdomen and core. It will help you tone those muscles.
- It helps you increase oxygen in your blood, which will carry it to your organs and tissues.
- If you have excess phlegm in your lungs, it will help you clear it.
- Bhastrika Pranayama also has positive effects on your respiratory and digestive system.
- It can also help in secretion of insulin for those who have diabetes.
- Bhastrika Pranayama will help you with all the diseases that are related to Kapha dosha.
- If you are an athlete, it can help you increase lung support.
- It can help with weight loss, lowering blood pressure, and even reducing the stress response.
- Just like meditation, it can help in reducing mind chatter. Many people also use it to awaken Kundalini.
Now that you know about the benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama let’s explore some of the variations of this method. Here are the types of Bhastrika Pranayama.
Types of Bhastrika Pranayama
There are three types of Bhastrika Pranayama.
1. Teevra Gati Bhastrika Pranayama
The Teevra Gati translates to ‘fast paced’. As the name suggests, breathing is extremely fast in this type of Bhastrika Pranayama. You are supposed to have a high respiratory rate. The breathing noise will be hissing.
Usually, in Fast Pace Bhastrika Pranayama, the respiratory rate will be around 232/minute at 3 to 4 breaths per second. This type of Bhastrika Pranayama is said to help with high blood pressure, back pain, hernia, and even heart diseases. But if the pace is too much for you, you can try these other variations listed below.
2. Madhyam Gati Bhastrika Pranayama
Madhyam Gati translates to medium paced Bhastrika Pranayama. Here, the respiratory rate will be down to 1 breath per second or 60 odd breaths per minute. For those who have been practising Kapalbhati pranayama for a long time will find it similar. The hissing sound will also be comparatively low with this type of Bhastrika Pranayama.
3. Samanya Gati Bhastrika Pranayama
As mentioned, if the other types of Bhastrika Pranayama are hard to follow for some people, they can try this Slow-paced version of Bhastrika Pranayama. Especially those who are suffering from heart problems, old age, blood pressure, or weak respiratory systems can benefit from this. The respiratory rate will be 1 breath every two seconds. This can also be a good Bhastrika Pranayama for beginners.
Bhastrika Pranayama Precautions
Who should not do Bhastrika Pranayama? There are some precautions that you need to be aware of when it comes to Bhastrika Pranayama. Here they are.
It is not advisable to practice Bhastrika after a meal.
If there is a feeling of nausea, you should stop.
If you have a fever or feel that your body temperature is rising, you should stop practising Bhastrika Pranayama.
People with high blood pressure and beginners should stick to slow-paced Bhastrika.
Bhastrika Pranayama should not be practised during pregnancy.
Now, that is all that you need to know about Bhastrika Pranayama. It can be a morning routine that will help you energize for the whole day and maintain it the whole day, or you can use it as a warm-up for your workout routine. After a couple of rounds of Bhastrika Pranayama, you may feel warm, too. Make sure you keep in mind all the precautions and reap the right benefits from the practice. Good Luck.