Kapalabhati Pranayama benefits and how and why we do it.


Kapalabhati Pranayama is one of the most widespread and well-known Yoga practices. As part of the teacher training, it will be included in every morning pranayama session. This is an essential Kriya Yoga, working on several levels.

The origins of the word come from Sanskrit (‘Kapal’ means ‘forehead,’ and ‘Bhati’ means ‘shining’). It helps in oxygenating your mind and gives an additional boost of energy trough active abdominal and diaphragm activation. It is also working on the purification of your lungs, as it gets rid of stale air and refreshes the whole breading system. 

Good video material can be found online, here is a nice video from Yoga international and if you have several more minutes you can try Kapalbhati explanation by Michaël Bijker, to help you grasp the basics

Some main points to the practice

  • Sit comfortably with a straight back. This might mean that you need to put some cushioning under your hips to make the pose easy and stable, or simply use a chair
  • Give yourself several breaths to calm down and come into the present moment.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air about ¾ way full.
  • In a quick motion, forcefully expel all the air from your lungs while drawing your navel in toward your spine. The primary movement is from your diaphragm and the inhale should be completely passive.
  • Allow your lungs to fill up naturally, with no effort as your belly expands for fraction of a second.
  • You can help yourself by placing one hand on the belly and the other one on your back so you can more easily track the movements you generate and correct yourself.
  • The amount of exhales you make depends on your progress and the school of thought you decide to follow. You can start with 10 to 20 exhales per session or going for a full minute or two.
  • Give yourself a few minutes to observe your mind after every session. This is the most mentally beneficial part. The realization that willful action just successfully transformed your mind into a quiet empty field of sunshine and pleasure.
  • Enjoy. 

Benefits of Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhathi animation visualization

The inhale and Exhale basics

  • Calms and uplifts the mind.
  • Helps in curing asthma and sinus.
  • Eliminates acidity and gas-related problems.
  • Cleanses lungs and respiratory system
  • Strengthens and tones diaphragm and abdominal muscles
  • Releases toxins
  • Increases oxygen to cells, purifying blood in the process
  • Improves digestion and metabolism
  • Energizes and clears the mind
  • Focuses attention
  • Warms body

Contradictions 

  • Practice it only on an empty stomach.
  • Should be avoided by anyone suffering from viral infections.
  • Pregnant women or women in their menstrual cycle should also skip it.
  • Hypertension patients should practice only with a yoga teacher’s guidance.
  • Anyone suffering from an injury of the neck, lower back pain or even slip disc
  • Weak digestion is also a contradiction

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