Bhastrika. The Effects and Mechanisms of Health Improvement. Part 2. Bhastrika and Apparatus of External Respiration.

Bhastrika. The Effects and Mechanisms of Health Improvement. Part 2. Bhastrika and Apparatus of External Respiration.

Bhastrika and apparatus of external respiration.

1. Bhastrika stabilizes the state of the bronchial tree smooth muscles.


The main function of the external respiration organs is the uninterrupted supply of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide (the main product of metabolism in the human body). Here the respiratory part of the lung (alveoli) “is responsible for” O2 diffusion from the air into the blood of the pulmonary circuit vessels and back from there (CO2), while the upper airways (bronchi and bronchioles) – for bringing the air to the alveolar part.

The body’s needs for oxygen absorption and carbon dioxide elimination directly depend upon the rate of metabolic processes that in their turn are determined by specific features of one’s personal life (the situations one is involved in, the emotional states, the external weather conditions and so on).

And it turns out that since situations are constantly changing, one’s personal breathing pattern (the respiration depth, its frequency and rhythm) changes permanently as well.

All anatomic structures that form the apparatus of external breathing must have some certain degree of lability to enable timely adjustment of organism.

What is it that ensures lability in the scope of constantly changing conditions of external breathing – when one may quicken it or slow it down, thus forming the conditions for gas flow that from the point of physics are totally different from one another?

First of all it is the elasticity of the bronchial tree that is grounded on the connective tissue. This parameter makes it possible for bronchi and alveoli to expand without residual deformations.

Furthermore, it is the contractility of the bronchial tree smooth muscles.

If the elastic frame allows the stretch of the bronchi thus changing their length and width, the smooth muscles as if support and adjust this function.

For instance, due to contractive force of the respiratory muscles the rib cage extends by inhalation and the lungs attached to it shall thus stretch. The expiratory lungs shall deflate mainly due to the elastic retainer – the force that tends to neutralize the elastic stress, the deformation that has occurred.    

At the same time the larger the volume inhaled and exhaled by a person is, the more intensive shall the elastic framework of the lung be engaged. And in these circumstances the large bronchi shall generate variations of the respiration lumen that is partially ensured by the muscles located within their walls.

In my opinion — that I propose to take as a hypothesis — the smooth muscles of bronchi and bronchioles mush ensure constant micro-vibrational motions of bronchial tubes providing the necessary looseness for adapting to changes in aerodynamic conditions.

For instance, such vibrations are created by the vessels of the human body microvasculature, and their presence comes as a criterion of vascular health.

In the event of lungs disease the smooth muscles change their tone. Apparently it becomes less labile. For instance, in case of bronchial asthma the tone shall be raised – mainly by exhale, thus forming the unsatisfiable desire to exhale the air that accompanies the asthmatic attack. In medicine it is referred to as expiratory dyspnea.

Now let us look at the way how Bhastrika affects the described processes.

When doing Bhastrika, we create conditions for rapid advancement of the air through bronchial system.

In these conditions, taking into account the afore-mentioned lability of bronchi lumen and their multiple branching, the air flow shall be changing from the laminar (quite) mode to the turbulent (i.e. with numerous air swirls) one that will complicate the air conduct and will cause increased (traumatic) load on the bronchi mucous membrane.

These are smooth muscles that can help generate the laminar flow when at high speed – having contracted, they will ensure better stability of the tubes.

Thus we can suggest that Bhastrika establishes conditions for stabilization of the bronchial muscles tone, and in the event of regular performance it trains the aggregate of the bronchial muscles.

I would like to draw an example in support of the hypothesis advanced.

There is a case described in medicine: a patient with severe bronchospasm connected to the lung motor was reporting shortness of breath and swelling of the chest; the symptoms disappeared after reduction of RV and rhythm acceleration (Cassil, 1968). In fact, while doing Bhastrika we also accelerate the rhythm and we breathe the RV (respiratory volume) that is actually reduced if compared to the habitual one.

2. The increase of alveolar ventilation due to increased percentage of inhalation in the course of respiratory cycle.

3. The performance of Bhastrika can eliminate the lungs’ “gas traps”.

The gas traps are the zones/alveoli in which the air is sealed by exhalation.

The matter is that the pressure caused on alveoli from the part of the shrinking chest at some point becomes higher than the pressure within them.

This is the phenomenon that almost everyone is subjected to. The percentage of these traps in young and healthy people makes up 15% of the VLC (vital lung capacity); in this case such occurrence is not harmful.

But in case of reduction of the pulmonary apparatus elasticity (due to age, frequent inflammatory diseases, pulmonary emphysema), when the wall of the bronchi is not able to withstand the load from the outside, the number of such “traps” increases. In this event the air by exhalation does not come out from the lungs at full; hence the subsequent inhalation cannot provide the organism with the required volume of air. The “dead” space is thus formed and the lungs cease to maintain their basic function – the ventilatory one.

In the process of Bhastrika the airstream that performs high-speed oscillation motions in the bronchial tree forms the increased intrabronchial pressure. This provides facilities that reduce the possibility of the “gas traps” formation*.  

4. Bhastrika normalizes the bronchial tree wall blood- and lymph-flow.

The high-pressured passage of the airstream stimulates local blood-flow and lymph circulation in the bronchial tree walls. This comes as a stimulating factor for the local immunity and as prevention of infectious diseases.

5. The diaphragm is a “short leash” to formation of the respiratory rhythm: the diaphragmatic motor neurons are directly related to the respiratory rhythm generation zone located in the brain.

Therefore, in terms of subjecting the diaphragm to rhythmic load we can assume training impact on respiratory rhythm-setting centers of the brain.

To be continued

*- in case of significant impairments of lung elasticity (emphysema and so on) Bhastrika is counter-indicative. In all other events of respiratory apparatus diseases the set of exercises must be drawn up by a competent Yoga-therapist.

Elena Akhramieieva,

Yogatherapist, Yoga Instructor.

19. 09. 2014

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