Three great joys in the West are chocolate, coffee, and sex. In the East – there is no difference! The stimulating effects of all three sensual indulgences are legendary. Even better than chocolate, coffee, and sex is the stimulating effect of kapalabhati and bhastrika[1]


While similar in their nature, kapalabhati and bhastrika are distinct and quite different. Bhastrika is mentioned in the ancient Hatha Yoga texts, such as the Gheranda Samhita. Bhastrika means “bellows.” Like a blacksmith trying to increase the flames of his fire, we use bhastrika to fan the flames of Agni[2] the form of prana found in the abdomen. To perform bhastrika, expand the belly outward, as the lungs fill with air. Now, the flow can begin: take quick strong breaths, actively pumping the air in and out, using your abdomen and diaphragm muscles. Do this pumping for twenty breaths. At the end of the twentieth breath, inhale, and retain the breath via kumbhaka[3] After retention, release the breath slowly and sit quietly, watching the energy inside. If it feels safe to repeat this, do this whole sequence two more times. If any discomfort has arisen, do not do any more today.


  1. — Well, better than sex anyway.
  2. — Agni is also the name of the god of fire, who receives burnt sacrifices on behalf of all gods. Agni, in this guise, is the mouth of the gods.
  3. — Kumbhaka means “pot”: we hold the breath in the pot of the belly.