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[Yoga Home][Postures][Breathing][HolisticOnline Home][Meditation][Prayer]

Breathing Exercises

Bhastrika (Bellows)

Bhastika consists primarily in forced rapid deep breathing which serves as a basis for many varieties of exercises, all of which may be described by the same name. Although air is forced both in and out, emphasis is placed upon expulsion or explosion of air. A series of such explosions, each following the other in quick succession without pause, either full or empty, may be called "a round." Beginners should limit a round to about five explosions, though the number may be increased to ten, or to any number needed to obtain the desired effect. The desired effects range from increased ventilation, increased blood circulation, increased clearing of nasal passages and increased thinking capacity to overwhelming pacification of all mental disturbances. Please be warned against generating such powerful explosions that the lung tissues will be injured and against extending a series so long as to become dizzy. Comfort, not reckless excess, should guide your motives and manner in doing this exercise.

Although you can breath through your mouth or both mouth and nose, traditionally breathing is limited to either both nostrils or one nostril. The breath-stroke in the rapid succession of breaths may or may not be very deep, but it is customary to finish or follow a round by the deepest possible inhalation and exhalation. A series of normal breaths should occur before undertaking a second round. A deepest possible inhalation and exhalation may, and perhaps should, introduce each round. Some nasal hissing can be expected; avoid unpleasant sound and fluttering of nasal skin surfaces. Although you can stand if you wish, proper performance of this technique is done in a seated position allowing maximum relaxation of abdominal muscles and easy diaphragmatic breathing. Variations include using a full pause after each round, partial glottis closures and alternation of nostrils.

You should exercise caution against the temptation to go to excess in initial bellows experiments. If you have a tendency to push the limit, lie down when doing this exercise if there is any danger of losing consciousness and falling to the floor. Forced breathing produce relaxation and revitalization. Excess may induce dizziness, drowsiness and diminution of consciousness. No harm can come from hyperventilation so long as you are in bed. If you happen to lose consciousness your breathing pattern tend to rectify itself and return to normalcy. Excessive ventilation results in lightheartedness, giddiness or a feeling of floating in the air.

Go To: Kapalabhati (Cleaning Breath)

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