Definition - What does Bhastrika mean?

Bhastrika, otherwise known as bellows breath, is a form of pranayama and is considered one of the most important and beneficial yogic breathing techniques. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word for “bellows” because the abdomen pumps the breath like the bellows used by a blacksmith.

Bhastrika requires powerful and rapid inhalations and exhalations which make an audible sound. A full inhalation and exhalation count as one round of bhastrika and may be practiced for many consecutive rounds. The final round is followed by a deep inhalation and retention of the breath for as long as possible, before a slow, deep exhalation.

Bhastrika has significant benefits as a cleansing practice for clearing the airways and for increasing energy levels in the body and mind.

Yogapedia explains Bhastrika

Mentioned in the yogic text, "Hatha Yoga Pradipika," Bhastrika is said to be ideal for moments when one feels hazy or confused, or when one seeks to gain clarity in a particular area. This is because the breathing technique is thought to purify the mind and clear energy blocks. Long-term practice may even awaken an individual’s higher powers.

Bhastrika increases metabolism and improves digestion, which may help with weight loss. It's best practiced on an empty stomach, as it stimulates circulation and blood flow to all organs of the body. A milder version of bhastrika is kapalabhati, which also has cleansing and energizing properties.

Unusual for a pranayama practice, bhastrika neither raises nor lowers body temperature, but rather maintains it.

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