The Bhastrika Pranayama – A Powerful Tool In the Migraineur’s Kit

The Bhastrika Pranayama is the most powerful of all pranayama techniques and combines the Kapalbhati and Ujjai systems in it. It is specifically prescribed by Ayurveds and Yogis to manage and prevent migraine attacks. The other pranayama that help in treatment, prevention and management of migraines are the Kapalbhati Pranayama, the Anulom Vilom Pranayama and the Brahmari Pranayama.

The best and the safest way to learn pranayamas is under the guidance of a qualified or certified Yoga instructor or a competent Ayurved or Yogi. Pranayamas done wrongly can prove to be very harmful with potentially serious outcomes. I have outlined below, the basics of how the Bhastrika Pranayama can be done. However, it is advisable that you learn the Bhastrika Pranayama in person and under the physical presence of a certified Yoga instructor.

1. Put a mat on an even floor.

2. Sit on it in the Lotus position

File:Tanumânasî en Meditacion Loto Padmasana.JPG

The Lotus position

(SOURCE: Wikipedia Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tanumânasî_en_Meditacion_Loto_Padmasana.JPG)

3. Keep your head, neck and body errect (in a straight line).

4. Close your mouth.

5. Inhale and exhale forcefully and in quick succession or rapidly 10 times. Both inhalation and exhalation should sound like the bellows of the blacksmith.

6. As you breathe in your lungs and abdomen should dilate and contract when you breathe out.

7. The 10 counts count for 1 set. 

8. Pause for 10 seconds after every set is complete. During this state of pause, breathe slowly and fully to the maximum lung capacity; pause for 3-5 seconds and exhale  slowly and completely.

9. Repeat the set 2 more times pausing between the sets.

10. The final expulsion should be followed by a deep inhalation. 

11. Pause after this inhalation for as long as it is comfortable.

12. Exhale slowly and completely.

The Bhastrika Pranayama should be done on an empty stomach with either very light snack or a glass of water half  hour before the session. Like all Pranayamas, the best time to do the Bhastrika is either morning or evening. The Bhastrika should never be done when a migraine attack is underway. 

Besides being a cure for migraines, the Bhastrika increases our BMR, cures asthma, sinus conditions, certain digestive ailments. It claims to purify blood, calms the mind and is proven benefecial in cass of muscular dystrophy and oxygen defeciency disorders. It balances the Vata, Pita and Kapha states of the body.

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