Kapalabhati is a highly energizing abdominal breathing exercise in which every tissue in the body is stimulated. When practised on a regular basis the face shines with good health and radiance due to the cleansing effect on the entire body. As one of the six kriyas (yogic cleansing practices), kapalabhati helps rid the body of waste materials allowing successful pranayama practice to follow.
To good to be true?? Let me explain how this practise influences individual body systems, organs and muscles; then the claim will be validated.
- Respiratory system – Cleanses the nasal passages, bronchial tubes and lungs. How? In exhalation the abdominal muscles contract inward and upward, this action pushes up the diaphragm towards the thorax and the air is expelled out forcefully. With forceful exhalation the entire system is purified from the alveoli all the way through to the nose. Inhalation then comes very naturally, abdominal muscles are relaxed which in turn descends the diaphragm and the external intercostal muscles contract. This causes an increase in size in the thoracic cavity, the lungs expand, and the air pressure within decreases (in accordance with Boyle’s law). The air outside the body now has greater pressure then that inside the lungs, external air rushes in to supplement. From this we can see that kapalabhati practice can help strengthen intercostal muscles and increase both the lungs capacity, and it’s efficiency.
- Cardiovascular system – During Kapalabhati we breathe at a significantly higher rate per minute then usual,
however the depth of the breath is not altered. This increases the rate of blood circulation within the body, oxygen therefore is taken up by the red blood cells at a faster rate. From here the blood flows through the aorta towards the tissue and cells of the body. The richness of the blood being delivered is heighten due to the system’s ability to eliminate large quantities of carbon dioxide, allowing greater oxygen uptake to each red blood cell.
- Nervous system– The sympathetic nervous system is initially stimulated when practicing kapalbhati. The brain receives more oxygen, which brings alertness, creativity, refreshment and a feeling of exhilaration. Waste materials or removed, clearing negative thoughts and unusable information.
- Digestive system – The vigorous muscular contractions during kapalabhati alternately compress and release the abdomen giving it a thorough massage . Individual organs such as the stomach, liver and pancreas are stimulated. This stimulates the digestive system and increases digestion, absorption, peristaltic movement and defecation. The vigorous use of the abdominal muscles has the added benefit of making them stronger, thus improving posture. The strengthening also makes the muscles less likely to bulge outwards which they tend to do when they lose their vitality.
- Integumentary system – Oxygen rich blood flows through the body at an increased rate, this means all cells will be positively effected. The skin cells are no exception; the more oxygen received by a skin cell; the more efficient it becomes. Skin develops resilience against dryness, dehydration, and excessive sagging.
Indeed it is ‘too good’, but very true! Practice Kapalabhati each morning, 15 pumps for 3 rounds initially; the proper assimilation and excretion will be established. Let the cleansing begin and enjoy a face that shines with good health and radiance!