Pancha means five and Prana means vital life force, together Pancha Pranas are the five vital life forces. These vital life forces perform all the actions in our body much like a machinist operating a machine. As per yogic physiology the Prana is divided into five subgroups which are known as Panch Pranas. These five are classified based on their location in the body and on the function, they perform in the body.
First is Apana which is the downward flowing vayu from navel down to the Muladhara or the base. This is how we excrete out waste and perform reproductive functions. It governs the large intestine, kidneys, anus and genitals. The element associated with Apana is water.
The Second is Samana which is associated with the element of fire and it flows from the navel to the diaphragm. It governs digestive and metabolic functions along with the circulatory system.
Third is Prana which flows upward from chest to thorax and governs the chest, larynx and chest region. This is the force by which breath is drawn into our body to perform respiration and is associated with the element of air.
Fourth is Udana which is associated with the element of ether or space. It governs everything from above the neck and all four limbs. It include all sensory organs, thought and consciousness.
Fifth is Vyana which is present in the entire body and it governs the other four Pranas. This is where the reserve for all other Prana forces is present and it is associated with the element of Earth.
Bhastrika Pranayama is done by first sitting in a lotus pose or Vjrasana with a straight spine. Make a fist while folding your arms so that your fists are close to your shoulders. Inhale deeply and raise your arms as you open the fists. Exhale forcefully as you bring your arms back to the first position near your shoulders and close your fists again. Continue this for 20 breaths and then you can rest your palms on your thighs while breathing normally. Do this for two more rounds so three in total.
The benefits of Bhastrika Pranayama includes maximized lung capacity due to forceful exhalations. It also helps in removing toxins from our bodies. It’s also great for energizing the mind and body. It is good for respiratory issues relating to blocked sinus or bronchitis or other respiratory ailments. It helps with balancing the doshas. And lastly, it improves awareness of our senses.
The contraindications associated with this Pranayama are:
- It should be done on an empty stomach
- Pregnant women should avoid it
- If you feel dizzy or tired do it at a slower pace
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