Kapalbhati is a yoga breathing technique and is Sanskrit for shining scull. This type of yoga breathing exercise, is great for strengthening and toning your abdominal muscles, giving you a flat tummy, and improving your overall circulation. Kapalbhati pranayama can be quite hard on the body, as it is an energizing exercise. It is therefore recommended that you consult your doctor or a certified yoga instructor before practicing and stay away from this yoga exercise, if you suffer from high blood pressure, hernia or any heart or cardiovascular disease, as this exercise can put extra pressure on your vessels and body, as it increases the blood flow in your body.
How to do Kapalbhati
This technique takes a little time to get used to. It requires that you breathe in a way you are not normally used to, and as you start out, you will find yourself getting exhausted very quickly, as it requires a lot of stomach power. You will perform 3 rounds, pausing in between each set of 20 exhalations to allow your body to relax. So follow this step by step guide on how to perform kapalbhati.
Find a comfortable meditation posture, sitting up, and with a nice straight back to allow you to breathe properly from your belly and not your chest.
Round 1: Take a deep breath and hold. Then push out your breath in 20 small rabid movements. Imagine that you are coughing or that someone is hitting you in the stomach. You are going to contract your abdominal muscles to create those short rabid exhalations. Do not use your chest muscles for this, but only your stomach. You are going to exhale through your nose and you are going to notice that your body naturally takes in air in between your exhalation as a passive reaction.
Relax your stomach and breathe out. Then take a deep breathe, inhaling deeply, and exhaling fully. Give your body time to rest before you move on, as this is very demanding on your stomach, and you are most likely already able to feel a slight exhaustion in your abdominal muscles.
Round 2: Now take a deep breath all the way down into your stomach, and then once again push out the breath in 20 short rabid exhalations, like coughing, only using the muscles in your stomach and not your chest. your chest should be completely still during this exercise.
Then take a short break breathing deeply and slowly, allowing your muscles to relax. This round was probably a lot more difficult to complete, as your stomach is slowly getting tired. But don’t worry, you only have one round left.
Round 3: Take in a deep breath and then once again push out the air through your nose using your belly muscles to exhale in 20 short rabid breaths. You will most likely have a difficult time completing this last round, and feel how your stomach is completely exhausted.
Then once again take a moment to relax, breathing deeply and breathing slowly. Give your body time to calm down and release the pain and soreness from your stomach.
You have now completed your kapalbhati pranayama practice, and it is important not to overdo it. You can adjust the exercise, if it was too painful to go for a whole 3 rounds. Listen to your body, and do what feels right.