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Benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

By Dr. Ankit Sankhe +2 more

Introduction: 

In ancient literature, Yoga is defined as Chitta Vritti Nirodhah, which means calming the mind through the yoga techniques of Sage Patañjali. This concept is elaborated in the Yoga Sutras, which focus on refining mental acuity and improving concentration.  


Yoga Sutras consist of eight practices: Ashtanga Yoga (Yoga of the limbs), niyamas (observances), yamas (abstentions), pratyahāra (withdrawal of senses), dharāna (concentration), asanas (posture), samādhi (oneness) and praṇ̄ayāma (control of breath).  

The five elements, also known as pancha bhutas- prithvi (earth), jal (water), agni (fire), vayu (air) and akasha (space) are the building blocks of the universe and body too. Various yoga techniques can harmonize and balance these elements in our body for our overall well-being. 

Praṇ̄ayāma are breathing techniques comprising two Sanskrit words, prana (vital energy) and ayama (control). Bhastrika refers to bellow, an instrument used by the blacksmiths.1 Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma is a type of praṇ̄ayāma, where inhalation and exhalation are equal; therefore, there are equal lung movements.2  

Let us have an overview of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma and its benefits. 

Did you know?

  • Bhastrika Pranayama can improve lung function and increase vital capacity. Source: ncbi
  • Regular practice of Bhastrika Pranayama can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. Source: ncbi
  • Bhastrika Pranayama can help improve digestion and alleviate digestive disorders. Source: ncbi

What is Bhastrika Praṇ̄ayāma? 

Praṇ̄ayāma has eight primary forms. Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma is one of those eight forms. Hathapradipika and Gheranda Samhita are classical texts that mention Bhastrika. According to Swami Sivananda, Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma is a practice of rapid inhalation and exhalation with a hissing sound.3  

Regular practice of Praṇ̄ayāma may influence the cardiorespiratory functions in several ways. Slow breathing may decrease the heart rate and blood pressure. On the other hand, fast-paced breathing may lead to a less strong but harmonious heartbeat.1 

Also Read: Benefits of Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

How to do it? 

Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma involves the practice of three bandhasmula, jalandhara, and uddiyana. Bandhas are described as ‘body locks’. They lock the vital energy in the body. Jalandhara bandha is the throat lock, mula bandha is the root lock and uddiyana bandha is the abdominal lock. The practice of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma, is described by Swami Kuvalayananda, who is a yoga guru. He has researched the technique of praṇ̄ayāma

  • Sit on flat ground or a chair in a comfortable position. 
  • Start with kapalabhati, which consists of 30 rapid exhalations. To perform kapalabhati, sit in a relaxed position with your spine straight. Take a deep breath and then exhale while squeezing your stomach in.  
  • Then slowly inhale through the right nostril. 
  • Hold your breath by three bandhasjalandhara, uddiyana and mula. First, the jalandhara bandha is attained by pressing the chin against the neck. Next, both nostrils are closed with fingers, followed by uddiyana bandha, which is expansion and chest and finally, perineum (near the abdomen) contractions in mula bandha. 

The above Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma steps are of one cycle.1 

Let me tell you a secret! Bhastrika Pranayama is believed to stimulate hunger, enhance metabolism, strengthen the neurological system, and improve digestion. I highly recommend the regular practice of Bhastrika Pranayama as it is absolutely beneficial for your overall health.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Did you know? 

The bellow is an instrument the blacksmiths used to blow air on the fire in the olden times. Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma is a breathing exercise that mimics a blacksmith that blows air using a bellow to create heat and purify iron.3 

Did you know Bhastrika Pranayama may reduce stress which in turn may help improve sleep? Studies say, Bhramari pranayama, for instance, have demonstrated to decrease breathing rate and pulse rate when practised for five minutes. Your body may become more relaxed as a result, helping you to fall asleep. In my opinion, pranayama may help those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea sleep better. Additionally, pranayama exercise is believed to decrease snoring and daytime tiredness, suggesting benefits in the form of better sleep.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Benefits of Ustrasana (Camel Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

Benefits of Bhastrika Praṇ̄ayāma: 

The benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma are given below: 

1. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma for managing anxiety 

A study revealed that anxiety levels were significantly reduced after practising Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma regularly. However, you must consult a therapist or psychiatrist if you experience severe anxiety.1 

2. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma for reducing blood pressure 

Studies show that Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may help in decreasing high blood pressure by dilation of blood vessels. It is essential to check blood pressure regularly and take proper medication in case of high blood pressure.2 

3. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma for heart health 

Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma, if practised regularly, may increase the heart rate. It may activate the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary activities like the heart rate. Any abnormalities related to heart function are serious; therefore, you must immediately consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms of heart disease.2 

4. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma to control blood sugar levels 

Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may help reduce blood sugar levels. Practising Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may increase the metabolism and uptake of sugar in the peripheral tissues. Hence, it may be suitable for diabetic individuals. However, you must get your sugar levels checked regularly and consult your doctor in case of abnormal blood sugar level.2 

5. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma for managing weight 

Studies have shown that practising this asana may reduce body weight, body mass index, and waist and hip circumference. Further research is required to confirm this finding. However, if you are overweight, you must consult a dietician to give you a plan to get to a healthy weight.4 

6. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma to improve lung function 

Regular practice of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may help to boost lung function, especially in older individuals. A study was conducted on 60-70 years old 40 male volunteers. Results suggested significant improvement in respiratory muscle strength, therefore improving lung function. It may also lower the risk of lung infections. However, if you suspect any abnormalities with the lung function, you must immediately consult a doctor.5 

7. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma for asthma 

In asthma, resistance is created in the airway, which hampers the smooth flow of air in and out. Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may improve the lung capacity by opening the small lung airways. Another cause of asthma may be stress. Therefore, practising Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may calm the mind and help relieve stress. However, if you experience severe asthma symptoms, you must consult your doctor to get proper treatment.6 

8. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma to improve static balance 

Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may help to enhance the static balance. Studies have shown that regular practice may synchronise metabolic and nervous function, mental concentration, and cardiovascular rhythms and reinforce mind stability, therefore achieving overall static stability of the body when there is no activity.3 

9. Benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma for allergic rhinitis 

This practice may help in case of allergic rhinitis. It may purify the breathing path from the nostrils to the throat. Additionally, it may keep the nostrils clean from congestion and mucous formation. Studies suggest that this practice may increase respiratory stamina, expand the lungs and relax the chest muscles. However, you must consult your doctor if you have recurrent allergic rhinitis.7 

10. Other benefits of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma: 

  • It may improve blood circulation by clearing the arteries and may prevent further blockage. 
  • It may help relax the mind and body by rapid inhalations of oxygen and exhalations of carbon dioxide. 
  • It may help relieve stress and depression by increasing positive effect and balancing emotions. 
  • It may have beneficial effects on arthritis by reducing joint pains.8 

Yoga practice may help develop the mind and body; however, it is still not an alternative to modern medicine. You must not rely on Yoga alone to treat any condition. Please consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your condition correctly and advise accordingly. Moreover, it is necessary to practice and learn Yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher to avoid any injuries.7 

Also Read: Benefits of Sukhasana (Easy Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

Risks of Bhastrika Praṇ̄ayāma: 

Some risks associated with Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma are:  

  • People with lung conditions should perform Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma cautiously.                                                                                                                                                                              
  • In case of heart problems, it’s best to perform Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma slowly and under professional guidance.7 
  • Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma should not be practised by people who suffer from high blood pressure and stroke. 
  • It should not be practiced by individuals who have gastric ulcer, hernia, epilepsy or vertigo. Those who are recovering from tuberculosis, are recommended to practise only under expert guidance.9 

With the guidance of a qualified and experienced yoga teacher/yoga expert, we can access and analyse the risk factors and continue to practice exercise with precautions. 

Conclusion: 

Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma is a practice of rapid inhalation and exhalation with a hissing sound. It may enhance cardio-respiratory functions. Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may help to manage anxiety and help to relax the body and mind. It may influence lung and heart functions. It may reduce blood pressure and improve heart health and blood circulation. Practising Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may also decrease blood sugar levels and manage weight. It may enhance static balance. One must practice praṇ̄ayāma regularly with appropriate precautions, and possibly under a trained Yoga professional.  

Also Read: Benefits of Sudarshan Kriya and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

Frequently Asked Questions: 

How to do Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma? 

First, sit on flat ground or a chair in a comfortable position. Start with kapalabhati, which consists of 30 rapid exhalations. Then slowly inhale through the right nostril. Hold your breath by three bandhasmula, jalandhara, and uddiyana. First, the Jalandhara bandha is attained by pressing the chin against the neck. Next, both nostrils are closed with fingers, followed by uddiyana bandha, which is expansion and chest and finally, perineum (near the abdomen) contractions in mula bandha. This completes one cycle of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma.1 

What are Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma precautions? 

People with heart or lung problems must perform Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma slowly and under a professional guidance. Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma should not be practised by people who suffer from high blood pressure, stroke, gastric ulcer, hernia, epilepsy or vertigo. Those who are recovering from tuberculosis, are recommended to practise only under expert guidance.7,8 

What are Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma benefits for brain? 

Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may improve mental concentration, and relieve anxiety by improving the blood circulation and oxygen levels in the brain. It may also help with modulating the brain activity.13 

What are the uses of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma? 

Regular practice of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may help to manage anxiety and help to relax the body and mind. It may improve the lung and heart functions. It may reduce blood pressure and improve heart health and blood circulation. Practising Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may also decrease blood sugar levels and manage weight. It may enhance static balance.1-7 

Is there any benefit of Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma for diabetes? 

Yes, practising Bhastrika praṇ̄ayāma may help reduce blood sugar levels by increasing sugar uptake in tissues. Therefore it may be beneficial for diabetes.2 

References: 

1. Novaes MM, Palhano-Fontes F, Onias H, Andrade KC, Lobão-Soares B, Arruda-Sanchez T, et al. Effects of Yoga Respiratory Practice (Bhastrika pranayama) on Anxiety, Affect, and Brain Functional Connectivity and Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Front Psychiatry. 2020 May 21;11:1. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7253694/ 

2. Das, Payel & Vivek, Pandey. (2017). Immediate Effect of Slow Bhastrika Pranayama on Blood Glucose, Heart Rate and Blood Pressure. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324223163_Immediate_Effect_of_Slow_Bhastrika_Pranayama_on_Blood_Glucose_Heart_Rate_and_Blood_Pressure 

3. Choudhary R, Singh V, Stec K, Kulmatycki L, Meena TR. Different types of bhastrika pranayama: Repeated measures trials with different treatments to study the trend of the effects on static balance ability. Human Movement. 2017 Dec 20;18(4):67–75. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322305938_Different_types_of_bhastrika_pranayama_repeated_measures_trials_with_different_treatments_to_study_the_trend_of_the_effects_on_static_balance_ability 

4. Jancy Rani A, Reg B. “EFFECT OF BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA ON ABDOMINAL OBESITY IN POST GRADUATE DEPARTMENT OF YOGA GOVERNMENT YOGA AND NATUROPATHY MEDICAL COLLEGE AND HOSPITAL, CHENNAI-600 106. 2018; Available from: http://repository-tnmgrmu.ac.in/10172/3/460215918jancy_rani.pdf 

5. Bamne SN. Effect of Bhastrika pranayama on pulmonary functions of elderly subjects. Natl J Physiol Pharm Pharmacol. 2017;870(8). Available from: http://www.njppp.com/fulltext/28-1493182637.pdf 

6. Kelkar, & Lekurwale, Pawan & Kherde, Ramraoji & Vyas, Deepak & Shrikhande, Suchita. (2021). EFFECT OF BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA ON “. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy. 12. 59. 10.7897/2277-4343.120114. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350343963_EFFECT_OF_BHASTRIKA_PRANAYAMA_ON 

7. Kumari, Anjali & Pandey, Ajay & Rao, Ratnesh. (2022). YOGA AND PRANAYAMA DURING PREGNANCY. 3. 47-52. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358047495_YOGA_AND_PRANAYAMA_DURING_PREGNANCY 

8. Agnihotri S, Kant S, Verma VK, Mishra SK, Pandey S. Role of jalaneti and pranayama in allergic rhinitis with asthma. International Journal of Yoga-Philosophy, Psychology and Parapsychology. 2016 Jan 1;4(1):3. Available from: https://www.ijoyppp.org/temp/IntJYoga-PhilosopPsycholParapsychol413-4890932_133509.pdf 

9. Kumari, Anjali & Pandey, Ajay & Rao, Ratnesh. (2022). YOGA AND PRANAYAMA DURING PREGNANCY. 3. 47-52. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358047495_YOGA_AND_PRANAYAMA_DURING_PREGNANCY 

10. Saraswati, Swami Satyananda. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. 2nd ed. Bihar, India: Bihar Yoga Bharati, 1996. Print. 394-397. Available from: https://upaya-yoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Asana-Pranayama-Mudra-and-Bandhas-Bihar-School.pdf 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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