Kapalbhati is often called breath of fire, or bellows breath. However Kapalbhati is actually made up of two sanskrit words 'kapala' meaning skull or forehead, and 'bhati' meaning shining or cleaning. Combined kapalbhati means an exercise that makes the skull shine and/or brain clean. Regular practice leads to a shining face with inner radiance. By the age of 25 many people start to show the first signs of aging and stress that are marked by little wrinkles in the middle of the forehead. Regular practice of kapalbhati of 10-20mins will help keep the forehead radiant, shining out your inner essence instead of showing signs of a stressful life.
**Kapalbhati should not be practiced by those suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, or hernias.
How to practice Kapalbhati Pranayama:
Before you begin it can be helpful to blow your nose a few time :). In this breathing technique we will be breathing in and out through the nose rapidly.
- Sit in a comfortable seated position allow yourself to feel grounded while maintaining a long spine, the length in the spine should help create more space for the lungs. Hands rest gently on the knees. The face is soft.
- Inhale deeply through both nostrils, filling the lungs 3/4ths the way full. Then exhale forcefully through the nose while pull the abdominal muscles toward the spine. The air will be push out by the contraction of the diaphragm.
- After you exhale forcefully the body will inhale naturally if you just relax and allow the lungs to automatically expand filling with air.
- continue to exhale sharply through the nose, followed by an automatic inhale.
After you have completed the pranyama practice close your eyes, allow the breath to flow freely and feel what effects the pranayama exercise had on your being. How do you feel, physically, mentally, and emotionally? What is the over all feeling tone of you, right now? Don't go mental, feel your way into this. Keep your awareness anchored on the different sensations of the body and the breath.
Benefits of Kapalabhati:
Kapalabhati Pranayama has many many benefits, some of which I have listed below. One of the most important benefits of kapalabhati is the cleansing effect it has on the lungs and the entire respiratory system. We live in an environment that is full of toxins. The smoke, the exhaust, the pesticides...all of these toxins make there way into our little alveolar sacs (there are 300 million alveoli in adult lungs) which are composed of a single layer of epithelial tissue. The alveoli are considered the functional unit of the lungs. And it is these alveoli sacs that become full of toxins over time. This can lead to respiratory problems as simple as asthma to as complex as lung disease where the cells die because of all the harmful toxins. Through this breathing technique the avioli get cleaned! How exciting. here are some other benefits:
- Kapalabhati cleanses the lungs and the entire respiratory system.
- The body gets an increase in supply of oxygen to all the cells.
- The blood gets purified.
- The digestion gets fired up.
- Core muscles get toned and strengthened.
- Prepares the mind for meditation.
- Stops the need from gossip.
- Improves the function of the 72,000 nadis (energy channels) that run through the body.