How to do Kapal Bhati Pranayam (Kapalbharti)?
February 1, 2010
What is Kapal Bhati Pranayam?
The practice of yoga includes a set of exercises or postures (asanas) and certain breathing techniques (Pranayama).
Kapal bhati yoga is one such set of breathing techniques, which have been technically formulated. The practice of Pranayama fills our body with ‘Prana’ (life forces) and energizes our body and mind.
‘Kapal’ in Sanskrit means ‘forehead’ and ‘bhati’ means shining. Therefore Kapalbhati can be literally translated to mean ‘Shining forehead’. It is so named because practicing Kapalbhati regularly, gives our face a radiant and healthy glow.
Kapalbhati yoga, which is an energizing abdominal breathing exercise, is sometimes also called ‘Cleansing breathing exercise’.
How to do Kapal bhati pranayama?
- Kapalbhati follows a pattern of deep natural inhalation followed by a quick exhalation.
- Sit comfortably on the floor, with your legs crossed and your spine straight. Relax your face, and rest your hands on either knee.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils, while expanding the abdomen.
- Now quickly contract the abdomen and diaphragm, and exhale, pushing the air forcefully out of your lungs.
- Inhale and exhale again in the same manner. You can start with 3 rounds of Kapalbhati pranayama, and gradually increase to 15 rounds.
Benefits of Kapal Bhati (Kapalbhati):
- Practicing Kapalbhati every day, helps to cleanse the lungs, the bronchial tubes and the entire respiratory system.
- There is an increased intake of oxygen in all the cells, which helps to purify the blood.
- The forceful exhalation helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles.
- The region of the abdomen becomes toned, improving digestion.
- Practicing Kapalbhati ensures greater intake of oxygen, which provides more energy to the body and mind.
- It improves concentration and memory.
- It releases tension and calms the mind.
- It prepares the way for meditation.
Precautions: While Kapalbhati has many benefits, it should not be practiced by those:
- Suffering from hernia
- Anyone afflicted with high blood pressure
- Those suffering from heart disease
- If a person is having an asthmatic attack
- If a person experiences pain or dizziness while performing it.
Common mistakes: Take care not to commit these common mistakes:
- Do not contract your abdomen while inhaling.
- Do not contract your shoulders to push out the air while inhaling.
- Do not move your back and shoulders during the breathing exercise.
Points to note:
The best time to practice Kapalbhati yoga is in the morning on an empty stomach.
Do the breathing exercises after all the other yoga postures, and just before you begin your meditation.
If you are a beginner, it is best to learn and practice it under the guidance of an expert yoga teacher.