Sanskrit meaning of Kapalbhati
‘Kapal’ in Sanskrit means skull, ‘Bhati’ means to shine and Pranayama means breathing techniques. It is also known as The Skull Shining Breathing Exercise.
Kapalbhati is one of my favorite Pranayamas. This Pranayama not only helps to reduce weight but also releases toxins from outgrowing breath.
If we regularly practise this technique, it will help to detoxify all the systems in our body. Also, from regular practise, the organs in and under the skull mainly the brain, sinus become more sharp and refined. Hence also called The Skull Shining Breathing Exercise.
If we see classic yoga text, Kapalbhati is considered as one of the methods of internal purification in Hatha Yoga. It is considered one of the Shatkarmas.
How to do
- Sit in Padmanasa or the Lotus Pose. It is cross-legged yoga posture. In case you find it difficult to sit cross-legged, you can sit in normal position, with your spine erect. (Image: Yoga Pose: 9)
- You can also sit in Varjasana.
- Put your hands on your knees, palms facing up, relax your body.
- Now take a deep breath. While exhaling pull your stomach back. Try to pull your navel back towards your spine. Continue with exhalation without inhaling the breath.
- Do as much as possible. This is called a round of Kapalbhati.
- Make sure not to exert yourself, your facial expression should not change.
- As you relax you can see a normal flow of breath
- The exhalation is forceful, while inhalation happens naturally when we relax .
- Initially you can start with 11 exhalations in one round and then can double it.
- Once you are comfortable with the Breathing Technique, you can increase to 60 exhalations in a round.
Benefits of Kapalbhati or Skull Shining Breathing Exercise
- It helps in reducing weight as it increases the metabolic rate. It helps in reduction of abdominal fat or belly fat.
- Kapalbhati cleans the cranial sinuses, it improves the organs beneath the skulls (brain/sinus). It helps to control thoughts and sharpens the intellect.
- It purifies/cleans the nerves/nadis (subtle energy channels)
- It brings glow/radiance to the face.
- It helps to remove the toxin/impurities of the body
Precautions to be followed while Practising Kapalbhati
- Pregnant woman should not practise Kapalbhati as it involves doing abdominal squeeze. Also, women shortly after delivery, should avoid it for some time frame.
- People using artificial pacemaker or suffering from high blood pressure or having back issues due to slip disc should avoid Kapalbhati
- People who are hernia patients, epilepsy patients or had stroke should avoid Kapalbhati.
- People suffering from ulcer should be careful while doing this.
- People who have gone undergone abdominal or thorax surgery should also avoid for the same reason as it involves abdominal squeeze.
- People suffering from some nasal obstruction are advised to practise it under the guidance of some expert.
Kapalbhati can also be practised after applying Bandhas or the Locks. Advanced practitioners can use this. I am going to discuss about these in later postsof mine.
Till then one can try to get comfortable with this Breathing technique exercise.