Breath of Fire

Updated: Mar 19

Bhastrika Pranayama

A straightforward breathing practice, focuses on the navel center and warms us, Bhastrika is a Sanskrit word meaning “bellows,” and it describes the active filling and emptying of the abdomen and lungs during this practice, a round of vigorous inhalations and exhalations. Being comfortable with your foundational pranayama and having a regular practice are key before initiating this technique.

This breath uses the action of the abdominal muscles and diaphragm to draw air in and out of the lungs, creating heat in the body by squeezing blood through the digestive organs, toning, energizing and increasing digestive capacity of the liver, stomach, spleen, and pancreas. A good place to start is one breath per second and 7 repetitions, start with 1 round. This breath is intense, with wonderful benefits as well as contraindications, please read both. Ask your doctor before starting any new physical activity. learn Pranayamas for an experienced teacher {see you in class}.

Evolving through your breath and strength as you gradually increase your time, do so mindfully.

For you who have an consistent pranayama practice, I am sharing what I presently practice:2 rounds of Agni kriya, 2 rounds of 9 breaths of Bhastrika follow by 1 rounds of Kapalabhati and 3 minutes of and Nadi Shodhana, 2 yogic breaths and normal breathing between rounds, this gives you a chance to center between techniques, about 15 minutes with the rest time included .

"The prolonged practice of bhastrika energizes every atom of the body. It sets the entire system in motion and purifies it, thus awakening higher powers."

—Swami Rama


  • Pranayama is good for alleviating sleep disorders. Bhastrika helps in strengthening the respiratory system which will help improve the flow of oxygen in the body.

  • Cleanses and rejuvenates the lungs, increasing lung capacity.

  • Alleviates allergies and asthma, cleansing the nasal passages, sinuses, and chest of excess mucus.

  • Tones and strengthens the muscles of the heart, bronchial tree, diaphragm, and abdomen.

  • Infuses the blood with oxygen, facilitating the removal of carbon dioxide from the blood and tissues.

  • Kindles the digestive fire and tones the digestive system.

  • Cleanses and invigorates the liver, pancreas, and spleen

  • Improves circulation

  • Balances and strengthens the nervous system

  • Induces a sense of peace, tranquility, and focus

  • Ayurveda* balances excess vata, pitta (when practiced gently), and kapha

  • Promotes vigor and vitality in the mind and body


Bhastrika should not be practiced by pregnant or menstruating women. It is also contraindicated for individuals with high blood pressure, heart disease, hernia, gastric ulcer, epilepsy, vertigo, significant nosebleeds, detached retina, glaucoma, recent abdominal surgery, and anyone at risk for stroke. Bhastrika should never be done on a full stomach or at night. It revs up the nervous system, which could meddle in relaxing the body for sleep. Refrain from practice during a migraine or asthma episode.

Suggested reading;

book - Light on Pranayama by BKS Iyengar

link to great article on sleep apnea and pranayama;

* see suggested links


The information for this blog has been learned and/or has being inspired/influenced by the teachings of;

Paramahansa Yogananda, Thích Nhất Hạnh, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Rama, Deepak Chopra plus the knowledgeable teachers that I have been so fortunate to study with in person, Gyandev, Bob Metzler, Santhanam, Dicksha, Nishala Devi Joy, and Amish from Sri Lanka. Thank you!!!

Other sources;

Yoga International

NDTV food

Bayan botanical


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