Bhastrika Pranayama is a health trend for long time. Yogis claim it can boost your immune system, cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, and maybe even extend life span.
In this article, we will explain the details of the Bhastrika Pranayama steps and its benefits. Every pranayama can be effective, but figuring out which one works best depends on the individual.
Pranayama Quotes: “Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.” – Sri Amit Ray
Bhastrika Pranayama is very effective breathing exercise to remove accumulated toxins in the body. It removes blockages of many internal chakras in the body. It brings back the homeostasis – the balance of the entire body and mind, especially the nervous system and endocrine system easily.
You are breathing, but it is mostly unconscious breathing. Breath is the life force, the prana; the vitality of every life. When it is totally unconscious; you have no control over your mind. Bhastrika Pranayama can help you to bring consciousness to your breath and the mind.
What exactly is Bhastrika Pranayama (Breath of fire)?
In the Sanskrit language, the word “Bhastrika pranayama” means breathing like a bellows. Bellows is a device for producing a strong current of air which was used to fan fire in Ancient days. In Bhastrika pranayama, your lungs move like bellows.
In Sanskrit, “prana” means life energy and “yama” means control. Hence, the Bhastrika pranayama is called as the bellows breathing exercise.
Bhastrika (bellow breathing) is a powerful and energetic Pranayama in yoga breathing exercises. In the Bhastrika pranayama, inhalation and exhalation both are forced. However, the movement of belly along with every breath is an optional variation. Hence, Bhastrika pranayama is all about inhaling and exhaling completely so that our body gets sufficient amount of oxygen.
Bhastrika Pranayama Mechanism
During breathing, the contraction and relaxation of muscles acts to change the volume of the thoracic cavity. As the thoracic cavity and lungs move together, this changes the volume of the lungs, in turn changing the pressure inside the lungs. This Pranayama resembles the blowing of bellows, hence it changes the volume of the lungs rapidly.
This process of rapid inhalation and exhalation, changes the volume of the lungs rapidly, which gives a boost to the body and hence is aptly called the yogic breath of fire. It is an excellent breathing exercise which you can practice slowly or fast as per our convenience. Basically it is fast breathing, where you inhale deeply and exhale completely.
This rhythmic inhalation and exhalation stimulate the circulation of cerebral fluid, creating compression, and decompression in the brain. Moreover, the rhythmic diaphragm movements stimulate heart and lung muscles improving blood circulation.
Sometimes along with Bhastrika pranayama, resistance yoga pranayama are used to enhance the efficiency of the respiratory system.
Chakras and the Bhastrika Pranayama
There are 114 chakras in human body. Bhastrika Pranayama activates the internal chakra circuits of the 114 chakras. It connects the liver chakra, heart chakra and the polar star or the soul chakras. Different breath-holding states influence the liver chakras. The chakras in the HPA axis, including the liver, pancreas, kidneys and the adrenal glands are activated and balanced.
Chakras in the brainstem and the medulla are also activated and balanced. Breathing is controlled centrally in the brainstem. The regular cycle of breathing originates in the medulla. The breath rate and tidal volume is continuously adjusted based on pH and PaCO2. The advantages are due to the therapeutic effects of the activation of the 114 chakras and mindfulness.
Types of Bhastrika Pranayama
There are four basic types of Bhastrika pranayama that we use for different healing purposes:
- Bhastrika Pranayama with hand movement up and down
- Simple Bhastrika Pranayama without hand movement
- Bhastrika Pranayama with mantra (like So Ham, Sat Nam, Om Guru-Guru Om, etc).
- Bhastrika Pranayama with energy locks (bandhas).
- Mula Bandha – the root lock.
- Jalandhara Bandha – the throat lock.
- Uddiyana Bandha – lifting of the diaphragm lock.
- Maha Bandha – all three locks at the same time.
Bhastrika Pranayama Steps
The key steps of Bhastrika Pranayama are as follows:
- Sit in vajrasana keep your back, neck and head straight.
- Keep the arms folded at the elbows and kept on either side of the body with medial side of each arm touching the chest; fists were closed and pointed upwards.
- Keep the mouth closed, take a deep inhalation through nose along with raise the arms parallel to each other above the head and open the fist.
- Exhale fully and forcibly through nose along with pull the arms down to the same initial position.
- This is one inhalation and exhalation.
- Do this force Inhalation and exhalation repeatedly and comfortably.
- The abdomen moves out during inhalation, while the diaphragm descends. The opposite happens while exhaling.
- The above movements should be slightly exaggerated. A strong nasal sound can be done with such breathing.
- The process should be rhythmic and controlled, maintaining the speed as per your comfort and capacity.
- Do ten cycles to complete 1 round of Bhastrika Pranayama.
- Do 3 to 5 rounds per day.
- Give a pause of about 1 to 2 minutes in between two rounds.
Bhastrika Pranayama Benefits
In scientific radndomize controlled study, the researchers observed that Bhastrika Pranayama, significantly decreased states of anxiety and negative affect. The practice of pranayama also modulated the activity of brain regions involved in emotional processing, particularly the amygdala, anterior cingulate, anterior insula, and prefrontal cortex.
- Reduces stress, strain and anxiety.
- Oxygenates the blood increasing the vitality of all the cells, organs, and tissues.
- Improves the functions the respiratory and digestive system.
- Drains excess phlegm from the lungs.
- Strengthens and tones the abdominal region.
- Calms the mind.
- Energizes the entire body and mind.
Restriction of Bhastrika Pranayama
- Bhastrika Pranayama should be practiced on an empty stomach, after evacuation in the morning.
- The people with high blood pressure, heart issues, hypertension, pregnancy, intestinal disorders, spinal abnormalities and eye ailments, e.g. like a detached retina, glaucoma should consult with doctors.
- People suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure or epilepsy should avoid this Pranayama.
- People who have undergone brain surgeries, heart surgeries or abdominal surgeries should consult the medical expert or consultant before doing this Pranayama.
The ancient text Hatha yoga Pradipika, describe, “As the breath moves, so does the mind, and mind ceases to move as the breath is stopped.” Bhastrika Pranayama brings stability, both in the breath and in the mind. Researchers observed the benefits of a regular practice of bellow breathing exercises, which include the following:
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Lower/stabilized blood pressure
- Increases energy levels
- Strength in the respiratory muscles 
- Improves Heart Rate Variability 
- Improve immunity
- Decrease feelings of stress and overwhelm
- Reduction in PTSD symptoms
- Enhances cognitive performances.
The goal of Bhastrika Pranayama is to connect your breath, body and mind. It also supplies sufficient oxygen to your body and removes toxins. It stimulates your chakras, cells and the tissues. Bellows breath can help you to remove the mental blockages and overthinking patterns of the mind.
Bellows breath may help you in other parts of life, like when you want to improve your will power. Breath of fire exercises is a type of pranayama that’s said to alleviate stress, eliminate toxins, and stimulate your lungs and upper chest and strengthen the respiratory system.