Pranayama: Bhastrika Pranayama

So far in this book we have described four types of pranayama techniques. These are as follows:

1. Samaveta

2. Ujjayi

3. Bhramari

4. Nadi shodhana

All of these techniques have distinctive characteristics and benefits. Perfection of bhramari alone or nadi shodhana alone can lead to meditation. Nothing else is required.

There are a few more basic and traditional types of pranayama techniques. One of them, bhastrika, will be discussed here. This practice is also very distinctive and can give many benefits on all levels, whether physical, pranic or mental.

Definition

The Sanskrit word bhastrika means ‘bellows’. Thus the practice can be called ‘the bellows pranayama’. This practice is so called because air is drawn forcefully and quickly in and out of the lungs like the bellows of a village blacksmith. The blacksmith increases the flow of air into a fire in order to produce more heat for his work. Bhastrika pranayama can be said to do the same thing: it increases the llow of air into the body, which produces inner heat, both gross and subtle. The inner fire of the mind-body is stoked. This heat burns up impurities, whether physical impurities such as toxins, pranic blockages, or mental neuroses. The Sanskrit word tapas means ‘to burn one’s impurities’. Bhastrika pranayama is one method, a very direct method of self-purification through tapas.

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