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Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
Lesson 171 - Spinal bastrika pranayama Pressure washing your karma away
Date: Tue Apr 20, 2004 1:11pm
New Members: 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 necessary.
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
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 immediately.
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 spinal
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
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 and smoother.
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
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.
Note: For detailed
instructions on sequencing pranayama techniques in the daily practice
routine, see the
AYP Eight Limbs of Yoga book.
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