Relax your mind and body with kapalbhati

Updated at: Aug 25, 2017
Relax your mind and body with kapalbhati

Kapalabhati When the head shines - Kapalabhati, as stated in the manual of hatha yoga, is one of the six purification exercises.

Vineeta Gogia
YogaWritten by: Vineeta GogiaPublished at: Aug 25, 2017

Are you the kinds who feel irritated with delicate pranayama practices and their even slower effects, then kapalabhati is one-stop solution for you.

Kapalabhati is a Sanskrit word where ‘Kapala’ means skull, and ‘bhati’ means "to shine." This dynamic purification exercise has noteworthy benefits like providing a bath of recently sanitized blood to the brain and clearance of nasal passages. 

Followed by a submissive inhalation, kapalabhati consists of a spirited, forceful exhalation. Initially practice it at your own speed and then gradually attain proficiency to perform this asana rapidly. 

Kapalabhati, as stated in the manual of hatha yoga, is one of the six purification exercises (also known as shat kriyas). This particular asana augments the exhalation ability of the lungs to drive out toxins and wastes. It further helps in strengthening the stamina needed for other hatha yoga practices. 

Practicing the asana

  • Think of kapalabhati as an abdominal exhalation exercise.
  • Sit upright in a comfortable position and then inhale. Keep in mind not to move your chest and shoulders.
  • Just exhale completely. Now you’ll feel some commotion in your diaphragmatic muscle. It should be noted how the first segment of the exhalation is completely natural and how forcing out more air will lead to contraction in the abdominal muscles.
  • Unless you feel you are beginning to use the abdominal muscles to complete the exhalation, continue this for few times.
  • The exhalation in kapalabhati is petite, dominant, and absolute, and it takes due amount of practice to become faultless.
  • Set in motion by ascertaining a baseline of profound and leveled nasal breathing. Begin with exhalation of contracting the face of abdomen muscles, from just below the ribs to the pelvis, strongly and swiftly, forcing the air out of the nostrils.
  • Keeping in mind there is no other activity and no blockage of the nostrils, this shall conclude in the throwing out the air via nostrils.
  • It is to be noted that while performing this asana only the abdomen moves and the rest of your body should be kept entirely still.
  • Please note that each exhalation should be comfortably comprehensive.
  • Without pausing, allow the abdomen to come back to its natural position. Do not inhale actively. This technique surely and slowly requires practice. 

The period of pranayama 

It is most advisable to begin the pranayama with 10 repetitions per round, three rounds per sitting and one sitting per day, gradually increasing the number of repetitions per round by about five repetitions per week. Kapalabhati is usually practiced in a series of rounds. Each round should be separated by profound, smooth breathing until breathing stability is re-established. 

The rhythm of the exhalation

Resembling the tick-tock of a clock, the rhythm should be regular and consistent. One exhalation- per second for a week should be maintained, then gradually adding up to the speed of the exhalations to two per second. 

Words of caution

  • Any pointed or unrelenting pain is a signal to stop.
  • It is also advisable to consult your physician who understands breathing exercises before continuing this particular asana. Patients suffering from high blood pressure and coronary heart disease should not practice kapalabhati without consulting a health care provider.
  • It is to be noted, that this asana should be practiced only on empty stomach.
  • If you feel dizzy or if you are unable to maintain a balanced rhythm or you experience any cramp in your stomach, stop immediately.

Image: Getty


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