If you haven’t heard about Kapalabhati before, I will tell you what I learned last week in my Yoga Teacher Training. Kapalabhati was the first learning of the entire course and I now understand why. It is a Kriya or cleaning method used by yogis to clear the forehead Nadi and the mind from any thought. It also helps improving your respiratory system, sinus, nostrils as well as increases your energy levels, improving your concentration and even your digestive system. Some people also refer to the Kapalabhati as a pranayama or breathing exercise as I could read in the B.K.S. Iyengar book: Light on Pranayama.
Kapalabhati is a Sanskrit word formed by kapala that means skull and bathi meaning light or shine. It is considered to be beneficial for multiple things, that’s why it’s recommended to be practiced first thing in the morning on a daily basis.
How to practice Kapalabhati:
- Sit on the floor in cross leg position keeping your back straight and your hands on the knees with the Chin Mudra
- Keep your mouth and eyes closed during the exercise
- Inhale through your nostrils
- Exhale vigorously and quickly contracting the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to push the air out of your nostrils (let the exhalation make a hissing sound)
- Keep your body relax, with the chest and shoulders still while doing the practice
- Inhale again keeping a regular rhythm for every breath and repeat the cycle 30 times
Note: to make sure you practice Kapalabhati correctly, press your lower abdomen with your hand while exhaling and feel how it moves inward contracting your muscles. You can also start helping yourself pressing with your hand until your muscles understand the movement.
As everything in life this technique, even when it has lots of benefits, also has some contraindications mostly when practised in determined situations or if you have some health issues. So please be aware of them before starting to practice Kapalabhati to prevent any discomfort or injury.
Benefits of Kapalabhati:
- Is beneficial for the respiratory system, treating any sinus problem
- Improves digestion, and strengthen the abdominals muscles
- Increases the focus and concentration
- Boosters the energy so it’s recommended practising it in the morning
- Promotes immune system function
- Warms the body, so it’s a good practice in cold countries
- Cleanses the toxins of the organism
Contraindications to the practice of Kapalabhati:
- Heart conditions
- After any surgery
- Abdominal pain
- Depression or any mental illness
- After eating or drinking (wait at least 2 hours after eating to practice this technique)
So, if you have never tried Kapalabhati before and you don’t have any of the contraindications, why don’t you follow these few steps and experience by yourself the benefits of this Kriya method?
You can start practising the Kapalabhati 3 rounds per day in the morning or afternoons. Remember that nothing is good in excess, so start slowly and increase the pace and strength of your exhalations enjoying all the positive benefits of Kapalabhati.