— (kah-pah-luh-BAH-tee prah-nah-YAH-mah) —
is an intermediate-to-advanced pranayama that consists of short, powerful exhales and passive inhales
But it is also open for learners if you are already practiced Ujjai breath. Start with easy slow not rapid pace first to get the feeling of the movement of the abdominal muscles and to get familiar with the technique.
Do not attempt it if you are not proficient with basic pranayamas, Ocean Breath (Ujjayi Pranayama).
Its name comes from two Sanskrit words:
“Kapala”— meaning “skull”
“Bhati”— meaning “light”
Kapalabhati is a part of Pranayama kriya where one forcefully exhales rapidly and in short bursts.
Practitioners claim that it helps in cleaning lungs and in exercising the abdomen muscles
The word Kapalabhati means skull illumination.
Yogis claim that practicing it cleans the brain and gives a shining quality to a person's appearance.
Modern science may give credence to this claim.
It is ideal to practice Kapalabhati early in the morning on an empty stomach.
Forceful exhalation by contracting the abdominal muscles, without any undue movements in the chest and shoulder region.
Inhalation should be passive throughout the practice.
How To Do :
- To begin, sit in a comfortable position where your spine is straight and your abdomen is not compressed
Use an upright seated position, such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana) or
Sitting on your heels, with your knees bent and shins tucked beneath your thighs Vajrasana ( like japanese seat )
A seated position on a chair with your feet flat on the floor
- Rest your hands on your knees, palms facing down.
- Awareness to your lower belly. For a beginner you can place your hands one on top of the other, to get the feeling of movement, after sometime bring your hands back to your knees
- Inhale through both nostrils
- Exhale by releasing air out through your nostrils also. Contract your low belly or use your hands to gently press on this area, forcing out the breath in a short burst.
- As you quickly release the contraction, your inhalation should be automatic and passive — your focus should be on exhaling.
Beginners can practice up to 3 rounds of 20 breaths each. The count and rounds can be increased gradually over a period of time.
For the average common person 120 repetitions per minute i.e. two per second is an ideal ratio.
Sadhakas above the level of common person can go up to 200 repetitions.
It is not advisable to increase the number beyond that.
Always go at your own pace and stop if you feel faint or dizzy.
After one minute of the exercise, inhale deeply through the nostrils, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.
Depending on your experience level, you may repeat the exercise.
Benefits of Kapalabhati Pranayama
-Kapalabhati is invigorating and warming.
-It helps to cleanse the lungs, sinuses, and respiratory system, which can help to prevent illness and allergies.
-Regular practice strengthens the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
-This exercise also increases your body's oxygen supply, which stimulates and energizes the brain while preparing it for meditation and work that requires high focus.
-Enhances the capacity of the lungs and makes them stronger.
-Practising Kapalabhati regularly can also provide relief from constipation. This is a problem for many people across all age groups. Bad eating habits, not staying hydrated, and other health conditions cause constipation.
Practising Kapalabhati can alleviate constipation and doing this for 3 to 5 minutes every day can remedy constipation within one week.
- Kapalabhati pranayama should be avoided by anyone suffering from viral infections
- Kapala bhati should not to be practiced by women who are either pregnant or are in their menstrual cycle
- Should not be practiced when your have Hypertension
- Should not to be practiced by anyone suffering from injury of the neck, as there is pressure with the fast exhalation
- Should not to be practiced by anyone suffering from lower back pain or even a slipped disc as the movement is around the abs and lower back
- Should not to be practiced by anyone with a weak digestive system
- Should not be practiced with full tummy
Never attempt any pranayama for the first time without the guidance of a qualified and knowledgeable teacher.
Stop the exercise if you become faint or dizzy. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.