Bhastrika pranayama brings a wide range of benefits that span the whole spectrum of the human being. The following is a brief summary of the main benefits.
Opens up the air cells of the lungs: Most people do not breathe properly – the breathing tends to be shallow. The lungs are not fully utilized and exercised and the small air cells (alveoli) in the bottom of the lungs tend to stay permanently closed. Mucus builds up and acts as the fertile soil for the growth of germs and disease. Also, when the air cells remain permanently closed the blood is not fully oxygenated. Those parts of the lungs that are open allow oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, while the closed or blocked parts don’t. This results in ‘mismatching’, a condition where one part of the lungs gives more transfer than other parts. The overall effect is decreased oxygen content in the blood. That is, instead of an ideal 100% oxygenation there is only say 70%. This results in decreased oxygenation of the body tissues and general weakness and bad health.
Bhastrika directly opens up closed air cells. Germs, mucus and possibly stagnant air are eliminated from the lungs. All the air cells are cleaned and rejuvenated from top to bottom, which leads to an increased transfer of oxygen through the cell membranes and allows better removal of waste carbon dioxide from the body. This results in better health of the whole body and increased vitality.
Bhastrika purifies the lungs. This makes it a very useful technique for combating ailments such as asthma, tuberculosis, pleurisy and bronchitis.
Corrects bad breathing habits: We have already mentioned this factor elsewhere. Most people do not use their abdomen when they breathe. Bhastrika is a means of retraining the nerve reflexes of the body so that one uses the abdominal muscles more during normal respiration throughout the day. Deeper breathing means that the body induces abundant amounts of oxygen with minimum number of breaths. This means that the body cells obtain adequate nutrition in the form of oxygen with minimum energy expenditure. The result is better overall health.
Speeds up the blood circulation: This allows the organs, muscles, nerves, etc. of the body to function more efficiently.
Improves digestion by giving a vigorous massage to the digestive organs. This too leads to better all round health.
Removes physical impurities by increasing the metabolic rate and increasing blood circulation. Bhastrika is therefore a first rate technique for purifying the blood, improving skin complexion and removing boils, pimples, etc.
Increases the flow of prana throughout the whole pranic body, wbich helps to induce good health and also to remove disease at more subtle levels. The pranic body is recharged.
Makes the mind calm and one-pointed preparing the body-mind for meditation.
Generally, we can say that bhastrika supercharges the entire physical-pranic-mental body. One’s whole being becomes very sensitive – one becomes more receptive to higher and more subtle vibrations. Such is the utility of bhastrika pranayama.