Kapalabhati Pranayama

The term Kapalabhati pranayama is also referred to as skull shining breath.  Kapala is a sanskrit word meaning skull and Bhati means shine.This is one of the cleansing techniques of hatha yoga, but lot of people practice kapalabhati as a part of their pranayama practice. This pranayama is a powerful breathing techniques which has immense health benefits. However, it is advisable to learn this technique from a yoga teacher. Practice of this breathing technique must only be carried out if you are physically fit. Also, increase the number of repetitions gradually. Doing too much of this pranayama without proper technique may lead to side effects like dizziness, headache etc.

Preparation

Read general guidelines for pranayama before starting this pranayama.

  • Sit on your favourite Asana (Padma asana, Vajra asana or Sukh asana) in a well ventilated room free from any distractions. Keep the waist, back, neck and spine erect.  Place your hands on your knees for better support.
  • For the beginners, you can sit on a chair or sit cross legged on the yoga mat/ carpet keeping your back, neck and spine erect.
  • Do not stress your body. Any time you feel discomfort, discontinue and take rest.

Steps for Kapalabhati

  • There is no Kumbhaka (holding of breath) in this Pranayama. Inhalation and exhalation are performed rapidly through the nose.
  • Exhalation plays a prominent part. Exhalation should be done quickly and forcibly by contracting the abdominal muscles with a backward push (towards the spine).
  • Inhalation is a passive once and occurs as abdomen is released. Inhalation is  mild and slow, in between two exhalations.
  • Set up your exhalations in a slow rhythm and comfortable pace.

Practice

Initially time out with one exhalation per second.

Start with one set of 20 exhalations. Carry out 2 to 3 sets as long as you feel comfortable, do not stress your body. After completing one set breathe normally for a minute or so.

Gradually increase the number of exhalations per set to 100 (increase by 20 per week) and repeat carry out 2 to 3 sets.

Benefits

  • Lungs throw out carbon dioxide and get more oxygen.
  • Improves blood circulation and respiratory system.
  • Improves concentration and memory.
  • Helps people with asthma.

Caution

This pranayama is prohibited for heart patients and people with high blood pressure. Also it should not be done for the following conditions:-

  • Mensuration and pregnancy.
  • In case suffering from cold or any respiratory problems.
  • Abdominal ulcers or hernia.
  • After abdominal surgery.
  • Avoid during cold

If you experience any giddiness, stop the practice, rest and take normal breaths.

› Kapalabhati

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