Most dieters just fantasize about a weight-loss exercise you could do while sitting still on the couch, but according to yogic teachings, there may actually be such a technique. The breathing exercise called bhastrika takes just minutes a day and can improve metabolic function, leading to increased weight loss throughout the day.
The bhastrika pranayama, or breathing exercise, is taught as a means to simultaneously calm and energize the practitioner. The process works by increasing the cellular metabolic rate, opening energetic pathways in the body and increasing internal heat, according to Anmol Mehta. Bhastrika is also recommended for ridding the body of toxins, strengthening the lungs and nervous system and improving digestion. All of these functions work together to contribute to weight loss.
Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position. Straighten your back, lift your head and relax your shoulders and arms, resting your hands on your knees. Inhale deeply, exhale forcefully through the nose, then inhale equally forcefully. This breath pattern is faster than your normal breath pattern, and you should feel the breath primarily expanding and contracting your belly rather than your chest, just as in diaphragmatic breathing. Continue to breathe forcefully through your nose, emphasizing inhalation and exhalation equally. Repeat for 10 breaths, then relax and breathe normally. After a short break, repeat the whole process for a total of up to five rounds.
Bhastrika is an intermediate pranayama, and is best to learn after practicing more basic breathing exercises. It should not be practiced by anyone with high blood pressure, heart disease or severe digestive problems. If you experience uncomfortable side effects such as dizziness or nausea at any time, either stop the exercise or take slower breaths until you feel comfortable.
Advancing your practice of bhastrika mostly comes down to practicing more quickly and for longer. Once you can easily complete five rounds, try speeding the breaths up while continuing to inhale and exhale with equal force and duration. You can also slowly increase the total number of breaths per round and the number of rounds, and you can begin to add a period of breath retention at the end of each round for up to 30 seconds.
Laura Gee has a B.A. in history and anthropology, but now spends more time blogging and producing web content. She has worked and/or trained as an illustrator, crafter, caterer, yoga teacher, child-care provider and massage therapist, and she loves to travel when she gets a chance.