Kapalabhati Pranayama – Skull Shining Breath
Kapalabhati Pranayama is a breathing technique that consists of short, powerful exhales and passive inhales. It acts as a tonic, refreshing and rejuvenating the body and mind.
Its name comes from two Sanskrit words:
“Kapala”— meaning “skull”
“Bhati”— meaning “light”
Benefits of Kapalabhati Pranayama:
Lowers weight by increasing metabolic rate.
Clears the subtle energy channels (nadis).
Stimulates abdominal organs.
Improves circulation and adds radiance to the face.
Improves digestive tract function, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients.
Results in a tight and trimmed down belly.
Energizes the nervous system and rejuvenates brain cells.
Calms and uplifts the mind.
-Kapalabhati Pranayama is an advanced breathing technique. Always approach the practice with caution, especially if you have a respiratory condition, such as asthma or emphysema.
– Never attempt any pranayama for the first time without the guidance of a qualified and knowledgeable teacher.
– Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
– If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga or pranayama.
– If your breath becomes strained, or if you become dizzy, faint, or anxious, stop the exercise and return to your normal breathing pattern.
High or low blood pressure.
Pregnancy and shortly after it.
Eye or ear disease.
Artificial pacemaker or stents.
Backache due to slipped disc.
Recent abdominal surgery.
Pain in abdomen or chest.
Acute condition of any disease.
How to practice:
Always practice on an empty stomach.
Sit in any meditative posture with your spine straight (Easy pose, Hero pose, Half Lotus, Lotus, or Sitting on a chair with the feet pressed against the floor pose). You may keep your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract.
Breathe normally through both nostrils.
Keep your facial muscles relaxed.
Take a deep breath in. Then continue with forceful exhalation followed with smooth inhalation through both nostrils. Ribs are slightly raised and contracted.
Exhale forcefully by vigorously contracting the abdominal muscle pushing inward and upward.
Inhalation happens very naturally by relaxing the abdominal muscles, no contraction is required.
The volume of the air inhaled should be equal to volume of the air exhaled.
Always begin with an expiration and end with an inspiration.
The sound of the expiration is loud and sound of inspiration is passive.
The duration of exhales is less than that of inhales.
Take 20 such breaths to complete one round.
After completing the round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
Do two more rounds.
Keep your awareness on breathing out.
With time, a regular practitioner can increase the duration of a round for one minute, taking a few normal breaths in between each round. The numbers of strokes should be two per second. Some teachers recommend one stroke per second.
Practicing Kapalabhati Pranayama can bring balance and purity to your life on many levels, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Take it slowly at first, and build on your experience as you gain more control. Breathing consciously, yet effortlessly, can break down barriers that you did not even know existed. The benefits will show up in all areas of your life.
TODAY’S TIP: Kapalabhati is similar to the Bastrika Pranayama (See Breath of fire), but less fiery. It is better suited for Vata and Kapha types than for Pitta.