Filled with pranic energy
Pranayama is the first requirement to attain good health at physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. The balanced flow of Prana blesses us with balanced life. Such controlled flow of Pranic power in entire body through breath control enables the Yoga Sadhak to remain filled with positive energy and accommodate himself with changing seasons in a dynamic way. He can face all adversities (Dukh Trayie) with a never failing smile. He can enjoy the freezing winter in a single shirt and remain unaffected with burning summer even. According to call of changing weather I must share some yogic kriyas favorable to people at large, men and women alike. Certain practices of Pranayama can make our winter season more comfortable as there will be no risk of cold or cough now but remember, for perfect results in pranayam perfection in Asana (specially Padmasana) is a must. Even Maharishi Patanjali the inventor of Yog Sutra recommends practice of pranayama only after perfection in asana and explains pranayama as “Tasmin sshwas prashwasyo gati vichchedeh pranayameh” (after attaining perfection in Asana, command over inhalation, exhalation, joining, separation and retention of Prana through breath is pranayam). Remember, pranayama is not merely breath control. The yoga seekers are advised to attain perfection in posture too while trying different pranayamas.
Sit comfortably with eyes gently closed in Padmasana, Siddhasana, Swastikasana or any asana of Padmasana group with clean nasal track and straight but still tense free back. After obtaining asana, just withdraw your awareness from your crossed legs and leave them absolutely tense free. Straighten your spinal column in alignment with neck and head. All the three must look in a single line when I look at you from back side. Now withdraw your awareness from this portion also and observe Gyan Mudra for better concentration, inner joy and firmness in practice. Give both of your index fingers the shape of a ring and touch their complete nails against bottom part of thumbs, leaving the rest three fingers spread straight. Place the wrists on knees with palms open to sky. Now withdraw your awareness from your arms also and leave them absolutely relaxed from shoulder joints. Bring your complete awareness to your Manipura Chakra at your naval leaving the chest, face and skull perfectly relaxed. Inhale deep and breathe out forcefully through the nose without any strain. Repeat it about 10 times, then take a deep breath and breathe out slowly. This is one round. Take about five rounds to clean the nostrils allowing the equal rhythmic flow of breath in both nostrils and be prepared for deep practice of Bhastrika Pranayama.
Continue to sit in the same asana and style. Close your right nostril with right thumb. Inhale and exhale forcefully through left nostril 20 times with a sniffing sound in the nose but count each breath mentally. During inhalation the diaphragm descends and the abdomen moves outward. During exhalation the diaphragm moves upward and the abdomen moves inward. After continuing it for five times go on increasing the speed of Pooraka (inhalation) and Rechaka (exhalation). The increasing speed and force of breath will shorten its depth. After about 15 breaths the flow of breath should sound like bellows of a blacksmith where he goes on increasing the fire with repeated force of air pressure. The bellows increases the flow of air into the fire and produces more heat. The same way Bhastrika Pranayam produces inner heat in the individual. Perform the pumping action by abdomen without strain. Body must be quite still without any jerk. Now inhale deep with left nostril only and practice Antar Kumbhak (fill the lungs as much as possible) expanding both lungs and the abdomen. Retain the breath and increase Antar Kumbhak gradually. Exhale comfortably through left nostril only. Remember inhalation and exhalation must be equal.
Sit in the same position and close the left nostril with ring finger of right hand. Inhale and exhale through right nostril with similar force for 20 times with comfortable posture without jerk. Mind that you do not make any extra effort to expand your chest or to lift your shoulders. They must remain as much normal as possible. Now inhale deep through right nostril and close both your nostrils retaining breath inside. Exhale gently through right nostril only.
Begin with deep, comfortable and rhythmic Pooraka (inhalation) followed by deep, comfortable and rhythmic Rechak (exhalation) with both nostrils together. After repeating such breath for about 20 times have a deep inhalation, retain the inhaled breath in Antar Kumbhaka for a comfortable duration. Later after risk free devoted practice, you may go for practicing deeper Antar Kumbhaka (retaining breath in inhaled position) gradually. After comfortable Antar Kumbhaka go for deep but comfortable exhalation followed by normal breathing. In the beginning you may practice counting numbers during Antar Kumbhaka to increase the time duration. Later this counting may be replaced with mental chanting of holy ‘Mantra’ for spiritual gains besides good health. Twenty times rapid Poorak Rechak followed by Poorak then Antar Kumbhak and finally Rechak, this is one round of Bhastrika pranayama. A beginner can practice five rounds of Bhastrika pranayam every day in winter season.
With growing practice abdominal bulk is reduced and rectus muscles get stronger. We may increase the number of respirations by 5 per month to a maximum count of 50 through the left, right and both nostrils. In advanced practice Bhastrika is performed with Mool Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha with Antar Kumbhaka (internal breath retention).
Bhastrika is recommended for sadhaks with excellent or normal health. Avoid violent respiration, facial expressions and shaking of body. People with weaker lungs or weaker heart, high pressure, hernia, gastric ulcer or epilepsy are advised not to practice Bhastrika Pranayam through books, magazines or Tv programs. Sadhaks are advised to go for a short rest after each round of Bhastrika Pranayama as Bhastrika requires a lot of physical energy so Sadhaks are advised to take balanced diet specially milk for risk free practice of Bhastrika Pranayama.
The rapid exchange of air in this pranayama stimulates the metabolism, flushes out waste and toxins and produces heat in human body. Patients suffering from asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis may get wonderful results with devoted and step by step practice of pranayama under expert guidance only. It leads one to perfectly healthy lungs and heart. The blood is purified, sugar and cholesterol level is balanced, body complexion is beautified, face becomes glowing and pimples vanish from your face. The ailments of Vata (wind), Kapha (phlegm) and Pitta (bile) are removed. The regular and rapid movement of diaphragm stimulates the visceral organs and tones up the digestive system. Inflammation of throat and accumulation of phlegm is cured and nervous system gets strengthened. It is a wonderful way to attain peace, tranquility and concentration, thus improves all round efficiency. This pranayam is most helpful in meditation.
Kapalbhati is a little similar to Bhastrika but with important difference. In Kapalbhati also we follow the quick succession of inhalation and exhalation but in Kapalbhati main emphasis is on Rechaka or exhalation only. Poorak or inhalation is very silent producing no sound at all. Exhaling the air forcefully from the lungs is Kapalbhati. In between two Rechakas there is a natural small but still silent Poorak. Each round of Bhastrika Pranayam is completed with Abhyanter Kumbhak while Kapalbhati Pranayam is completed with Bahya Kumbhak.
For risk free practice of Bhastrika Pranayam a beginner is advised to begin with Kapalbhati. In Yogic text Kapalbhati is one of the Shat Karmas i.e. six cleansing systems practiced for Kaya Kalp or rejuvenation of human body. Kapal is cranium and bhati means splendour. Thus Kapalbhati is to purify and rejuvenate the organs of the skull and their functions.