With yoga becoming a preferred lifestyle for a lot of people out there universally, there are a few yoga practices that are practiced extensively. Kapalbhati is one of them. Kapalbhati is a kind of pranayama, a breathing practice that falls under internal purification practice. The term is derived from the Sanskrit, Kapal that means meaning and "skull" and bhati, which means “to shine.” This kind of pranayama has become quite popular because of its health benefits and hence people learn Kapalbhati right after getting to know Yoga as a science.
It might seem easy to learn Kapalbhati, at the same time it requires precision in order to give maximum benefits. While practicing kapalbhati pranayama, the yogi seizes a seated position in which the belly and chest seem to be unrestricted, similar as in virasana or sukhasana. The concentration is entirely brought to the lower abdomen and the hands are placed on the lower abdomen. As when you inhale, the lower abdomen contracts as well as on the exhale, the breath forces out quickly.
Following steps can help you learn Kapalbhati with precision.
1. Take a comfortable yogic posture
We start by relaxing your body first. Then close your eyes and sit in a cross-legged position. Try to focus on your breath that is going in and out of the nostrils.
2. Go for a suitable hand gesture
In the second step, make a suitable hand gesture like a Gyan Mudra using your fingers and place it on your kneecap. These hand gestures are important since they help in increasing concentration and focus
3. Take a Deep Breath
In this step, we concentrate on our belly region by brining normal breathing and belly movements into sync. Take a deep breath in, slowly and steadily from both nostrils. This will fill energy into the lungs for further exhales. Thereafter keep concentrating on your inhaling.
4. Exhale active and Inhale passively
This step is the foremost step of kapalbhati Pranayama. ‘Exhaling with blow through the diaphragm and inhale will become automatically’ a theory that is the beauty of kapalbhati. While the breath is still in your lungs, you have to pull your stomach in, towards the back. Pull as much as you can still being in the comfort zone. Make sure you are not applying excessive stress as this can put an adverse effect on the organs. Thereafter you pull the stomach in, your breath then rapidly comes out of lungs through both of the nostrils and there is automatically a lighter breath that draws in at the same time.
5. Repeat and Relax
As you complete one forced exhale with lighter inhale, it will be counted as 1 breath of kapalbhati. If we repeat it in this manner for 20 to 40 breaths, and It will be one round of kapalbhati. After the completion of one round, relax abdominal muscles and follow your breath. As soon as you feel a composure in breathing, repeat the same kapalbhati breath for the next round. After having completed 3 rounds, sit in cross-legged posture for a few more minutes and; closely follow the sensations of the body.
Benefits of Kapalabhati Pranayama
Kapalabhati is one of the yoga practices that prove to be exhilarating and warming. While it mainly works on the Respiratory system helping in cleansing the lungs, sinuses which can in turn help to prevent illness and allergies. With regular practice, kapalbhati helps in strengthening the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. This yoga practice is also known to increase the body’s oxygen supply, which spurs and invigorates the brain while setting up a pre-work for meditation and work that requires high focus.
Kapalbhati Pranayama comes under advanced breathing technique. It should never be attempted without the guidance of an equipped and competent teacher when you are performing. Stop the exercise if you feel like you will faint or become dizzy. This is an exercise which should be performed in your own range of abilities.