Good Morning Yogis! Today is Pranayama Day! We celebrated the first day of fall last week, and the days are getting shorter and cooler. So, today we will revisit a warming and energizing breathwork technique – Bhastrika Pranayama or Bellows’ Breath!
We are in the middle of a daily Asana practice challenge for September! Please see our Asana Styles page for links to youtube videos for various Yoga Styles. For Pranayama Day today, I recommend a gentle morning Hatha class, perhaps after trying out this new technique!
I usually practice with the Yoga Studio App rather than streaming services, so I can download my favorite classes and use in areas without WiFi or phone signal. Today I am doing one of my favorites – Beginner AM (20 Minute), which I modify with more advanced versions of poses including full side plank, standard extended side angle, and lowering slowly from plank to Chaturanga Dandasana / Yoga Push-Up… I am still working arm strength to do the Intermediate version of this class. I typically practice Asana most consistently in the morning, and this is my favorite morning series! PS I keep Ocean for the background sound in my Yoga Studio App, to help remind me to use Ujjayi Pranayama or Ocean Breath!
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is Bhastrika Pranayama, an energizing Pranayama Practice. We will start diaphragmatic breathing, which is part one of this breath. Please note this is a technique that should be practiced on its own, NOT during Asana practice! This Pranayama is best first thing in the morning, or if you need an energy boost during the day. Also, this technique is best on an empty stomach, or at least a couple hours after eating!
- Start by evaluating your current breath pattern. Place one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly. Breathe in and out, and notice when the hands resting on your belly and chest move to indicate expansion. You SHOULD use your diaphragm and breathe into your belly, so your belly expands on the inhale and contracts on the exhale. Most of us breathe shallowly into our chest only, and our belly hand never moves!
- Breathe in and make sure your belly expands, pushing your hand out as your entire torso fills with air.
- Breathe out, contracting the belly, making sure you empty the lungs completely
- Continue breathing in to a full count of 6, and out to a full count of 6, using your diaphragm to fill your lungs with air, and contract the belly to empty lungs completely. Focus on keeping your chest hand fairly still, and using your diaphragm to breathe into your belly.
Bhastrika Pranayama / Bellows Breath
- After 5-10 full Diaphragmatic Breaths, close your mouth and begin the Bellows Breath:
- Exhale forcefully through the nose, followed by inhaling forcefully through the nose.
- These are quick forceful breaths, about one second for each inhale and one second for each exhale.
- Use your diaphragm to initiate this breath, so your belly moves in and out quickly with your breath. Note that due to the speed, your breath will likely only reach your chest, not your belly.
- Keep head, neck, and shoulders still throughout this technique.
- Complete a round of 10 Bellows Breaths.
- Move back to Diaphragmatic Breathing for 5-10 complete breaths. If you are getting dizzy, just stick with one round.
- Complete a second round of 20 Bellows Breaths.
- Move back to Diaphragmatic Breathing for 10 complete breaths.
- Complete a third round of 30 Bellows Breaths.
- Do not practice more than 3 rounds or 60 Bellows Breaths at a time.
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Please comment and let me know what you thought of this Pranayama exercise! Have you tried this breath technique? How many rounds did you complete? Do you have another Pranayama practice you particularly enjoy? Always remember, be kind!