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Lesson 171 -
Spinal Bastrika Pranayama - Pressure-Washing Your
AYP Plus Additions:
171.1 - Alternate Nostril Spinal Bastrika Pranayama (Audio)
Tracing the Spinal Nerve in Spinal Bastrika Pranayama (Audio)
- Should Ujjayi be used with Spinal Bastrika Pranayama?
Date: Tue Apr 20, 2004 1:11pm
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Now we will introduce a
powerful new pranayama practice called spinal bastrika. "Bastrika" means
"bellows." It is rapid breathing, like a dog panting, done with the
diaphragm only (abdominal breathing), preferably through the nose. If it is
too difficult through the nose, it can be done through the mouth, as
Bastrika in these lessons is done tracing the
spinal nerve quickly between the perineum (root) and the point between the
eyebrows (third eye), just the same as during normal spinal breathing, only
much faster. The spinal aspect brings greatly increased power to bastrika
pranayama, and at the same time provides balance between the divine inner
polarities in the body. Spinal bastrika charges the entire nervous system
with huge amounts of cleansing prana in a balanced way.
This practice is excellent for clearing out
stubborn karmic blockages throughout the nervous system by sending powerful
pranic pulses up and down inside the spinal nerve, and surging out through
every nerve in the body.
As with any practice,
some prerequisites and cautions are in order, so let's consider them.
First, spinal bastrika is not a cure-all, not a
very good stand-alone practice. It will only work well if sufficient
prerequisite practices have been stable for some time. These include spinal
breathing and deep meditation. Spinal bastrika is done in-between these two
during sitting practices. Its greatest effects are found when it is used in
conjunction with the core practices of spinal breathing and meditation.
Second, if you have any health condition that
could be aggravated by this extended panting style of practice, then please
do refrain. If in doubt, check with your doctor first.
Third, under certain circumstances spinal
bastrika can aggravate an inner blockage, and should obviously be tempered
then. More often, it will release blockages without aggravation, and can be
used more aggressively then. You only will find out how your nervous system
responds to spinal bastrika when you try, which is why it is good to start
out slow and use careful self-pacing. Keep in mind that there can be a
delayed reaction with spinal bastrika - you will not feel all of the effects
Spinal bastrika is most useful if the ground has
already been cleared underneath and throughout the nervous system with deep
meditation and spinal breathing. Then spinal bastrika can help finish off
the job of getting lingering stubborn karmic blockages out. In that sense,
it is like a pressure washer brought in to break loose and flush out those
tough obstructions that have already been loosened up with meditation and
As mentioned, bastrika means "bellows." I call it
"doggy panting," signifying a more gentle sustainable fast breathing
approach than the huffing and puffing that bellows implies, though doggy
panting can be made quite vigorous also. Sometimes it gets vigorous all by
itself. It is a long series of shallow quick breaths, using the diaphragm
only, and continued for the allotted time as attention goes with the breath
up and down the spinal nerve between the root and third eye. It will take
some getting used to. As with all practices, spinal bastrika will be a
little "clunky" at first. You will find it takes some practice to have the
attention going up and down quickly with the breath. Also, the lungs may
tend to get gradually emptier or fuller during a long series of pants. This
"drift" is normal, and it is okay to empty out or fill up the lungs as
necessary several times during a spinal bastrika session to compensate for
the drift. And if there is no drift, very good. Then just keep going with
spinal bastrika for the allotted time.
It is recommended you
start with two minutes of spinal bastrika right before meditation, after
spinal breathing and whatever other pranayama you are doing then (yoni mudra
kumbhaka or the chin pump). Continue with siddhasana, sambhavi, mulabandha,
kechari, etc. Some uddiyana (slightly pulling in of the abdomen) can be done
also during spinal bastrika. As you get the feel of the energy moving in
spinal bastrika, your body will know instinctively what to do, and all of
these maneuvers will refine by themselves. Once it settles in, spinal
bastrika, with all of its related yogic components, is quite natural. It
becomes a very pleasurable practice with long-lingering ecstatic results in
activity, and makes a permanent contribution to enlightenment. When those
karmic obstructions are gone, they are gone for good, and the light shines
out brightly from inside.
With comfort established
for two minutes of practice, after a week or two, spinal bastrika can be
taken to three minutes, and eventually to five minutes, if desired. Spinal
bastrika is very powerful in longer doses, so keep that (and the delayed
effect) in mind as your experience advances.
You will find spinal bastrika to be helpful for
deepening your meditation. With so much being loosened up during the several
pranayamas before meditation, it makes the process of deep meditation to
inner silence and global purification in the nervous system go much faster
Spinal bastrika puts the overall purification
process in a higher gear, loosening the nerves and cultivating the entire
nervous system tremendously. Be sure to exercise self-pacing with spinal
bastrika, and all of your practices. Always pace your practices so as not to
exceed your comfortable limit of resulting purification in your nervous
system. Take your time and find your balance with spinal bastrika in your
routine of daily practices.
In several weeks we will
look at some variations of spinal bastrika that can be used for more
targeted karmic cleansing.
The guru is in you.
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