Kapalbhati pranayama is one of the most amazing types of pranayama. Let’s take a look at the key benefits and how to do it.
There are so many benefits of Kapalbhati pranayama, including increased blood circulation and metabolic rate. It’s one of the most powerful breathing exercises in yoga that any yogi should try.
From detoxification to improving circulation, there are a number of fantastic benefits that make it an essential addition to incorporate into your yoga practice.
No matter what level you are at in your yoga journey, let’s take a look at the key benefits of Kapalbhati pranayama and how to practice it properly.
What is Kapalbhati pranayama? – one of the best yoga practices
Kapalbhati pranayama is a Sanskrit phrase that comes from ‘Kapal‘, meaning foreheard, ‘Bhati, meaning shining, and the breathing technique pranayama. This is why the practice is also referred to as ‘Skull Shining Breath’.
It’s an age-old breathing technique and is one of the best types of pranayama. It’s also a great cleansing technique and a purification in hatha yoga. Kapalbhati pranayama is an important shatkarma or shatkriya.
The origins of such a practice are difficult to pinpoint as yoga, in general, is centuries old. However, the oldest texts date back to the 16th century with works by Swami Swatmarama and Gherand Samhita.
In modern yoga culture, Indian spiritual and yoga guru Swami Ramdev popularised the practice. Read on to find out the immense benefits of the practice.
Benefits of Kapalbhati pranayama – energise your nerves and gain control of your mental health
When you practice the breathing technique that is pranayama, you let go of 80% of the toxins in your body with the outgoing breath. As such, regular practice detoxifies all of the systems in your body.
The practice of Kapalbhati pranayama is said to clear the mucus from the air passages, reduce bloating, and improve lung capacity.
It’s is a wonderful technique for anyone who wishes to practice yoga daily and improve their breathing techniques. It also gives you immense control over your mental health, detoxifies your skin, and energises your nerves.
Furthermore, it is known to have great benefits for the liver and kidneys, strengthening these abdominal organs and significantly improving their function.
The benefits of regular practice of Kapalbhati pranayama are innumerable. When you start to master Kapalabhati, you will notice the heat you feel flowing through and filling your body. Plus, you will notice how your lung capacity has increased.
How to practice – the best way to practice Kapalbhati pranayama
Kapalbhati pranayama involves forceful and active exhalation. Yoga instructors will recommend practising in the morning on an empty stomach.
To do it, you must sit in a comfortable position, sit up straight, and exhale completely. Then, inhale through both nostrils and exhale a sharp breath from your nose.
While exhaling, you will be pulling your belly button toward your spine. The exhale is short, fast, and active, while the inhale is short but passive.
To do this practice effectively, start with one round of 30, lowering to 15 if this feels strenuous. The best time to practice is in the morning or when you feel cold.
Mistakes to avoid – commons errors for newbies
Newbies to the practice might make a couple of common mistakes. This is totally natural when trying something new. One of the most common mistakes is shuddering shoulders when breathing out.
When practising Kapalbhati pranayama, you must keep your shoulders absolutely still to avoid causing harm.
Next up is squeezing or scrunching your face as you inhale and exhale. Try to relax your face completely. Don’t wrinkle up your face or squeeze your eyes closed. Let your jaw slacken completely, rest your eyes closed and breathe.
Finally, make sure you sit up straight when you practice. An erect spine is essential when practising any sitting pose in yoga. Rest your hands on your knees and face your palms upwards.
If you slouch when practising, you might restrict the oxygen you allow in and out of your lungs. In turn, this lessens the benefits of this breathing technique.
So, there you have it. The practice of Kapalbhati pranayama and how to do it. Will you be incorporating it into your next yoga practice?
Other notable mentions
Yoga nidra: Yoga nidra is another great practice that allows you to access delta brainwaves. These brainwaves are responsible for the restoration and healing we experience in our bodies when we sleep deeply.
Hatha yoga: Hatha yoga is a wonderful branch of yoga that uses physical techniques in an attempt to preserve and channel energy or vital force. Practised at a slower pace than regular yoga, it is all about focused breaths, controlled movements, and stretching.
Shavasana: Shavasana is usually practised at the end of a yoga session. It is a restorative pose or asana that sees you lying on your back with your arms and legs comfortably spread and your eyes closed. Instructors often put on soft, calming music for this part of the session.
Ujjayi breath: The benefits of Ujjayi are incredible. It calms the mind, soothes the nervous system, and increases psychic sensitivity.
This is a breathwork that any yogi will probably be familiar with as it stimulates the vagus nerve that controls the organs of maintenance (heart, digestion, glands, breathing).
Side effects: Side effects of Kapalbhati pranayama may include dizziness, headaches, and vomiting sensation.
Reasons to avoid practicing: You should avoid practicing Kapalbhati pranayama if you use a pacemaker or stent. Hernias, epilepsy, backache due to a slip disc, or recent surgery also rule you out. You should not practice this technique during pregnancy.
FAQs about Kapalbhati pranayama
What does Kapalbhati do to the body?
Kapalbhati is a kind of yogic breath regulation that involves vigorous breathing while engaging the abdominal muscles.
It’s an advanced breathing technique that regular yoga practitioners use every day. This pranayama technique has benefits for everything from heart ailments to hair loss.
Which part of the body is actively used in Kapalbhati?
The diaphragm and the abdominal muscles are actively engaged when practising this breathing exercise.
Does Kapalbhati detox your body?
Yes. Kapalbhati is a wonderful tool for detoxifying your body. It tones and cleanses the respiratory system in a way like no other practice does. It generates a heat that helps remove toxins and waste matter.