Here’s why you need to practice kapalbhati for the sake of your physical and mental healthPublished on: 22 May 2021, 11:00 am IST
As most of us know, yoga is a treasure trove of breathing exercises. During the pandemic, their significance has only grown, and rightly so. One such asana is kapalbhati pranayama, which is also known as ‘breath of fire’. To break it down, the word ‘kapal’ means skull and ‘bhati’ means shining or illuminating. ‘Pranayama’, as the name suggests, means breathing technique.
Here’s what you need to know about kapalbhati pranayama:
Kapalbhati pranayama is said to have distinct mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. Let’s just say this technique has been devised to help people with their overall well-being. It is a shat kriya, which means it’s a cleansing technique that helps to remove toxins from the body. Although kapalabhati seems to require minimal effort, it is a pretty technical kriya that comes with a plethora of benefits.
This rapid breathing technique includes slow, passive inhalation and forceful active exhalation, using your abdominal muscles.
It’s time to find out the right way to practise it:
Step 1: As it is practised in a quiet environment, make sure to choose the place accordingly. Now, sit comfortably on a yoga mat either in sukhasana, padmasana, or vajrasana, or any other pose you like.
Step 2: Place your hands on your knees, and raise them facing upwards. Next, fold the index fingers of both hands, such that their tips touch the tips of the thumb.
Step 3: Close your eyes, keep your head and back straight, and relax your shoulders.
Step 4: Inhale through both the nostrils deeply, while focusing on the belly region.
Step 5: As you exhale, pull your navel back towards the spine, as much as you can. Your exhale should feel like a light outburst; this means it should be fast, while you pull your stomach inwards. During exhalation, you should be able to hear a hissing sound.
Note: When you inhale, the stomach should come outwards, and upon exhalation, it should move inwards.
Step 6: Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of kapalbhati pranayam. Repeat four to five rounds per day.
Remember that your focus should be on exhalation. After a few days of practice, the exhalation and inhalation process will be automatic and smooth.
Here are some health benefits of doing kapalbhati pranayama:
- This advanced practice of breathing helps to reduce the CO2 levels in the blood, thereby helping to increase the oxygen levels in the body.
- This breathing technique involves ‘active exhalation and passive inhalation’, and helps to correct the low blood circulation in the body. It also de-stresses the mind.
- It increases the capacity of your lungs, and strengthens them.
- Kapalbhati is known to remove toxins and other waste materials from the body.
- This breathing technique also increases the pitta, and hence the metabolic rate which is known to support weight loss.
- It activates the brain cells, thereby improving memory and concentration power. Plus, it is a trusted technique to relieve anxiety and tension.
- It improves the health of your skin and gives you a radiant glow.
- Breathing exercises help to cure asthma and sinus.
- It improves digestive issues and eliminates all gastric problems. Practising kapalbhati helps to relieve gas, heartburn, and constipation.
- Practising this yoga asana can also cure insomnia.
- It boosts the production of endorphins, thereby helping to uplift your mood.