Bhastrika Pranayama | Number of deep respirations

In the practice we have suggested that you breathe rapidly 10 times. This is the number that you should do if you have just begun bhastrika. As your abdominal muscles become stronger with regular practice then you can increase the number of rapid respirations. Increase by 5 respirations every week. Some people do 200 rapid and deep respirations and more, but you should only practise a suitable number within your capacity. A reasonable number is 50 respirations after a few months practice.

Duration of retention

When you first start bhastrika, only hold your breath for a short period, say five to ten seconds. With practice you can increase the duration until you can hold your breath for a minute or more. However, don’t strain. You should mentally count the duration of retention.

Number of rounds

1 round = stage 1 + stage 2 + stage 3.

Beginners will find it difficult to do more than 3 complete rounds, without feeling tired. Do not exhaust yourself. Practise a comfortable number of rounds, no more. With regular practice you can increase the number of rounds.

Some practitioners practise bhastrika pranayama continuously for hours and hours. This charges the whole system and is a very good sadhana. However, this amount of vigorous practice should only be done when the body is in perfect health, in suitable surroundings and with a strictly regulated diet. We do not advise the reader to undertake such practice, without seeking expert guidance. If you eat the wrong food and practise too many rounds of bhastrika. then you will become ill.

We suggest that you do not practise more than 10 complete rounds without guidance.

This does not sound very much, but actually it will take about 40 to 50 minutes to complete this number of rounds. This is more than one can fit into a busy day.

Precautions

The practice should be stopped immediately if you feel:

  • fainting
  • excessive perspiration
  • excessive shaking of the body
  • vomiting

The practice requires forceful and rapid respiration. This does not mean that one should use extreme force. There is no need to ji t the teeth or contort the face. The respirations should be done rhythmically and with control. In fact they should be done with an attitude of relaxation.

Limitations

Bhastrika should not be practised by people who suffer from:

  • high blood pressure
  • any heart ailments
  • hernia
  • vertigo

Bhastrika is ideal for purifying the blood and removing a bad complexion. However, this purification should be slow. If you do too much bhastrika then all the impurities in the blood will be ejected from the body in a mighty torrent. This may result in massive boils or other skin eruptions in the initial stages of practice. We suggest that you proceed steadily but surely. Let the impurities be removed slowly. In this manner you are less likely to get painful boils or skin eruptions.

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