BHASTRIKA

This is closely related to Kapalabathi. Unlike Kapalabathi, where both nostrils are used for breathing in and breathing out, only one nostril is used at a time. To enable this regulation, the fingers of the right hand are used in Mrigi mudra. The pranayama is of two kinds: VOLOMA and ANULOMA. In the case of ANULOMA, the right nostril is closed and the air in the lungs forcefully expelled through the left. Without a pause, breath is taken in by the same nostril. Now again, without a pause the left nostril is closed and right opened and the air forcefully expelled through the right nostril. Without the pause, air is drawn in through the same right nostril. This process of breathing in through the other nostril is repeated. The same caution against use of excessive force in expelling the air applied here also. In the case of VILOMA, breathing in is always through one nostril, and breathing out through the other. The blocked nostril is used for breathing out and non-blocked nostril for inhaling. In both cases, the pranayama should be done in Padmasana. If sitting in this asana is difficult, one of the other asanas mentioned under Kapalabathi may be adopted. The important point to note is that the spine is kept erect, there is proper chinlock, and the lungs are not constrained by an improper posture. This practice cleanses the air passages in the nose and is also called vayu nethi as distinguished from JALANETHI and SUTRA NETHI. In JALANETHI and SUTRA NETHI the nasal passages are cleaned by water and by soft thread. These two are termed KRIYAS and are prescribed as curative measures in special cases. While the pranayama is for all, these kriyas are applicable only in certain cases. These kriyas may be necessary in certain cases fol giving immediate relief, but these should not be practiced as an everyday routine as they are sometimes habit forming. In the case of asanas and pranayamas, however, they are not habit forming and hence there is no danger in practising BHASTRIKA daily, though it has also an action to clean up the nasal passages. On the other hand, the best results from pranayama are obtained if KAPALABATHI or BHASTRIKA is done first. BHASTRIKA pranayama has as its essential feature, breathing out through alternate nostrils with some force. If, however, one nostril is heavily blocked, purely as a temporary curative measure, forcible exhalation and the inhalation may be made through the same unblocked nostril. The same remarks regarding the number of rounds as made in the case of KAPALABATHI are equally applicable here. It is equally important that immediately after BASTRIKA without a pause, wither NADISHODHANA or SHEETALI pranayama is done. Benefits: Giddiness due to blood pressure is reduced. For immediate relief, Bastrika should be followed by Shitali. But for eradicating the complaint, Nadishodhana should be done. A general observation may be made here about the aims of Yoga. These practices are mainly intended for strengthening the body as far as the physical is concerned, and the body resistance to ward off diseases. No doubt these can be used for curative purposes. When thus used, there are three stages. The first, to give immediate relief, the second, to cure the disease and the third, to built up the bodily resistance to prevent the body from getting diseased. Depending on the state of the body s health, the process of building up bodily resistance takes longer or shorter time. In all cases of Yogic treatment, all the three stages are equally important. NOTE: In the case of those who are not able to sit in Padmasana, they may sit in VAIRASANA, BRAHMASANA, SIDDHASANA or PRASARITA PADASANA. Siddhasana is not, however, for married people. Padmasana is the best suited and the other asanas are arranged in their order of suitability. In all these cases, the point to be carefully observed is that the spine is kept stiff and erect, there is chinlock, and the arms are held stretched without the elbows being bent. During the breathing in and out, only the stomach should move in and out, but the other parts of the body should kept steady, In VAIRASANA, BHRAMASANA and SIDDHASANA, the knees should touch the ground. In the case of PRASARITA PADASANA, where the legs are stretched in front, the knees should be together and the thighs and calves toughing the ground. BHRAMASANA and SIDDHASANA, the knees should touch the ground. In the case of PRASARITA PADASANA, where the legs are stretched in front, the knees should be together and the thighs and calves toughing the ground. KAPALABATHI should not be done by ladies during pregnancy. Too much force should not be used in breathing out either in kapalabathi or in bastrika. The fine air vessels may be ruptured and blood may come out which is harmful. The golden rule is slowly to increase the force of breathing out as practice advances. This is all the more necessary in the case of those whose nose is blocked for some reason or the other. A brief description of PRASARITA PADASANA is given below: 1. Sit on the ground with the back touching the wall and the buttocks as close to the wall as possible. The spine should be kept erect and in this position practically the entire back will be touching the wall. Keep the chest forward. 2. Stretch both legs in front of the body, the legs together, toes pointed, and the back of the knees touching the ground. 3. Stretch the arms and place the palms on the respective thighs or knees as is possible. 4. Chinlock: the chin must be locked in the notch below the throat and as high as possible so that the neck is not bent too much. The chin should be exactly on the median line. In this position with the spine kept erect, the lungs will not be constrained and will be free to fully fill up when inhaling. NOTE: The above asana has been mentioned for those who are unable to sit in PADMASANA, VAJRASANA, or BRAHMASANA.