Bhastrika, or “bellows breath,” is a traditional breathing exercise in yoga that helps to increase Prana or life force in your system.
Bellows breathing is also a practice to consider if you’re trying to lose weight. Performing a few rounds throughout the day can help increase your digestive power or Agni (fire) and boost your metabolism. This practice helps move you from sluggish to energized very effectively by increasing oxygen and building heat in the body. Practise whenever you need to enkindle your Agni in preparation for eating or when you need an extra boost, ideal before an exercise routine or clearing out that ‘dumping’ cupboard or drawer! Avoid practising close to bedtime, as it may invigorate your mind and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Contraindications: Do not practice Bhastrika if you’re pregnant, have uncontrolled hypertension, a blocked nose, epilepsy, seizures, panic disorders, or heart conditions. You should also avoid practising bellows breath on a full stomach; wait at least two hours after eating. Please consult your doctor before practising if you have any health conditions.
- Practise on an empty stomach and ideally evacuated bowls.
- Sit up tall, relax your shoulders, relax the face and take a few deep, breaths in and out from your nose. With each inhale, expand your belly fully as you breathe with each exhale completely empty the lungs.
- Begin bellows breathing by forcing the breath through the nose on both the inhalation and exhalation. A slight hissing sound will be produced. Try for a few rounds up to 10 and then rest. Increase the rounds only as you get stronger in the practice.
- Make sure the breath is coming from your diaphragm; keep your head, neck, shoulders, and chest still, while your belly moves in and out.
- Remain relaxed throughout and do not strain. Stop if you begin to strain or feel tired.
As with all yoga practices is best to take instruction in Bastrika with a qualified teacher.
PAVANMUKTASANA – WIND RELIEVING POSE
Pavana = wind/air Mukta = freedom/release Asana = seat/pose
As the name suggests, the posture helps to eliminate any gas trapped in your abdomen. It is one of the best yoga poses for kindling Agni, aiding digestion and alleviating bloating.
How to Practise Pavanmuktasana
- Lie on your mat/floor
- Bend your knees and place your feet close to your buttocks
- Hug your knees with your arms. Inhale and lift your legs away from the floor and hug them to the chest
- Exhale, lift your head from the floor, and bring the forehead close to the knees without straining the neck
- Hold the posture, pressing your thighs on your abdomen, for several deep breaths
This simple posture massages the digestive tract helping to get the bowels moving.