Kapalabhati means shining skull – It is considered to be so cleansing to the entire system that the skull (face) shines with health and radiance. Although it is a breathing exercise, technically it is considered to be one of the ‘Shad Kriyas’ (cleansing exercises)
To practice, sit in a crossed leg position, padmasana (crossed leg) or sukasana are recommended. Keep the back straight.
Place your hands on your knees. Relax. Focus on your breathing.
Take a deep breath in and then release the breath out.
Then inhale slowly and exhale forcefully while contracting the abdominal muscles.
The exhalations should strong, expelling the air from the lungs with full force.
The inhalation takes care of itself.
This is one round of Kapalbhati pranayama.
A learner can do 3 rounds of Kapalbhati by doing 15 exhalations in each round. Take a break between each round.
If you are new to this practise you can place your hands onto your belly and as you exhale pump your hands against your lower belly. This will ensure that you are contracting the belly as you are exhaling. A common mistake for beginners is to contract the belly during the inhale rather than the exhale.
Benefits of Kapalabhati
- It increases and strengthens the respiratory system
- The abdominal contractions massage the internal organs
- The abdominal muscles are toned and strengthened.
Kapalabhati can be practiced before meditation. It improves the concentration span and helps to focus the mind. As it is quite invigorating it is a good practise to do in the morning or when you are feeling sluggish. It’s best not to have eaten a meal for at least 90 minutes before practising it.