(Last Updated on : 01/12/2014)
Quite a handful of Indian Yogis have revered Bhastrika, a special type of Pranayamic exercise. The famous Yogic expert of ancient India, Svatmarama Suri, who wrote 'Hatha Pradipika', discerns eight varieties of Pranayama. Amongst them, Bhastrika is the significant one.
He also gave a due reference of the meanings of the word Bhastrika . In Sanskrit, Bhastrika means bellows. This Pranayamic exercises is called so mainly because of its characteristic feature of ceaseless and rapid forcing out of breath. Thus in this process all the varieties of Bhastrika simulate the hissing sound of active bellows, played by any metalworker of any of the Indian village. What is also prominent is the quick succession of breathing out of air in quite a forceful manner.
The Technique of doing Bhastrika is quite exclusive. In the first two types of this exercise, one makes use of both his nostrils, while in case of the last two types of Bhastrika, only one nostril is utilized. Although there are commonalities between all the varieties of Bhastruka, few unique features are found in almost all of them.
As far as the first variety of Bhastrika is concerned, it is quite simple and easy. One breathes in air inside the abdomen along with simultaneous rising of the heart ribs. This condition needs to be maintained as it is with the aid of slight compression of 'intercostals' on a continuous basis. At the same time, both the nostrils are utilized for vigorous and rapid expulsions of breath, which go after one another in quick succession. However, inspiration of air is quite passive. It is largely brought about by the compression of the abdominal muscles. The glottis is to be kept fully open. The air is to be drawn in by slowly expanding the chest. Only the partial closing of the glottis and also force of friction produced in inspiration is to be averted. Care needs to be taken so that while drawing in air, the nose and throat need to be gentle enough, without any friction being caused in any part of the respiratory tract.
References can also be found where this variety of Bhastrika Yogas has been prescribed rampantly. The famous author of Gheranda-Samhita recommends this variety to the students of Yoga. He has also put forward certain modes of this type. Today also it is widely practiced especially recommended by the 'Director of the Kaivalyadhama'. In the book only twenty types of ejections of breath have been duly mentioned.
As per standard and common rule followed by most of the people, several Pranayamic techniques like The Puraka , Recaka , Kumbhaka Are being followed with a little bit modifications in case of Bhastrika Pranayama.
No one can deny the fact that rounds of Bhastrika prove to be immensely effective for those who practice it. The student starts with rapid expulsions of breath following one another in rapid succession. When the necessary number of expulsions is done, the last expulsion is followed by deepest possible inhalation. After holding his breath to his utmost level of comfort and ease, consequently, he breathes out as profoundly as possible. The end of this deep exhalation finishes one round of Bhastrika exercise. A handful of normal breaths during resting and the students are again prepared for another round of this Pranayama. In a single round of Bhastrika, there are two parts, with some kind of resemblance with other Pranayamic asanas. The author of Gheranda-Samhita recommends three rounds of Bhastrika, for a man to keep himself fit. A recent survey has been carried out which inferred few important observations. It has been find out that a man of normal health can keep up his health by practicing three rounds of Bhastrika on a regular basis.
The second variety of Bhastrika is also important and is widely practiced by the people even today. It has two parts. In the first part, during respiring 'glottis ' is so arranged that it get more or less compressed producing a frictional sound. At the same time even if the breath is released or taken in, no significant blockage, is extended to the passage of the air. After completing this glottis tightening, the whole condition needs to be maintained throughout exercise. The author of Hatha Pradipika advocates this variety.
The second part of this variety involves the deep and intense breathing in and breathing out in respective precession. Inhalation is done through one nostril only instead of using both the nostrils. The right nostril is to be used for inhalation while left nostril is used during breathing out. Immediately after the last forcing out of breath, which completes the first part of the exercise, deep inspiration of air is done through the right nostril. Breathing is held back applying the same technique as ahs been used in the first variety. After that air is expelled, and that too as thoroughly as possible. There is no need to make mentioning that in this part of the Bhastrika exercise, the right hand through out the whole process should be placed on the nose thus regulating the passage of air. With deep breathing out of air one round of the second variety of Bhastrika comes to an end. In order to be ready for the next round, the right hand is returned to its original position on the knee and a few normal breaths are taken.
Special instructions are also been given by the experts about the placement of hands.
The third variety of Bhatrika too is equally significant. Here again it is advisable to regard this variety in two individual parts. In this case, only one nostril of the exerciser has been utilized for the exclusion of breath. It obviously denotes that the other nostril is kept closed and this closure is effectively done with the aid of fingers.
Further, few comments have been rightly put forth by eminent scholar of ancient India, namely Brahmananda. This third variety of Bhastrik can be divided into odd and even numbers and according to Brahmananda, for each odd round of Bhastrika the right nostril is to be utilized and for every even round the left nostril is widely used. Thus, more obviously, breath should be discharged and taken in via the right nostril in all-following odd rounds of this Bhastrika variety. Also the exhalations and inhalations of air will be done through the left nostril in all the even rounds.
As far as placement of hands are concerned during executing the third variety of Bhastrik asana, one always needs to place his right hand on the nose. However, the left hand has been permitted to be kept on the knee. The fitting up of the chest, the massaging of the muscles of the abdomen and also the array of the glottis, act in accordance or in agreement with the technique of the first variety. Number of time one breathes in and breathes out air and the rounds that one undergoes, is consistent and similar in all the varieties of Bhastrika exercise.
The fourth variety of Bhastrika also comprise of three parts. In the first part, breathing of air is not profound and intense. Also the other two parts are precisely alike. Thus if a specific nostril is used for inhalation, the opposite nostril , needless to mention , is utilized for breathing out.
There is another feature of Bhastrika exercise. One who executes it on a rigorous manner is capable of arousing the spiritual force within ones own mind. This Bhastrika Pranayama is prepared for special spiritual elements like Pratyahara, Dharana, etc.