April 20, 2012

Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhati (kah-pah-lah-bah-tee); is a highly energizing and powerful abdominal breathing exercise that cleanses the respiratory system, effecting all parts of the respiratory system. Also good for the digestive system, abdominal muscles, expelling and purging the system of tension and negativity, cleansing the mind.

Blood is purified and the body gets an increased supply of oxygen to all cells. Energizes the mind for mental work.

Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Polishing Breath): Kapala = forehead or skull, and bhati = shining or light (knowledge).

Kapalabhati enhances the lung's ability to take in energy and eliminate carbon dioxide and other impurities through exhalation. The focus of this practice is the lower belly which most beginners have a hard time controlling. With practice it will become natural doing this practice with the focus on the lower belly not the chest.

Start by sitting in a comfortable seated position with an elongated spine and the head floating over the heart, chin parallel to the floor. you may want to blow your nose before beginning. With this practice your breathing through your nostrils, forcefully exhaling by contracting your abdominal muscles, then relax the abdominal muscles and the inhalation will passively come in.

To begin inhale and then sharply contract your lower abdomen pulling the belly in rapidly expelling the air from your lungs, then passively inhale. Both inhalation and exhalation is through the nose and happens quickly. Chest and shoulders should move very little. Start out slow one breathe per second and with time and comfort your Kapalabhati breathing will be about 120 times per minute compared to a normal breath of 12 to 14 breathes per minute. Continue the breathing practice 20 to 50 times per set, up to three sets may  be performed in one sitting.  Mentally visualize any negativity being expelled on your exhalation.

Finish each set with an inhalation holding the breath for about 10 seconds and then slowly release the breath before returning to your normal breath.

Dangers of Kapalabhati: Don't do if you have high blood pressure, any heart issues, hernia, asthmatic attack in progress, if pain or dizziness is experienced stop. The quick exhalation should not be uncomfortable or too forceful.

Breathing is more important than the poses in Yoga. So besides working the breath while your in a pose you can add Kapalabhati Pranayama to your practice.

If your injured or disabled in some way and physically can't exercise then doing a breathing practice like Kapalabhati will be a healthy healing exercise to work on.

Healthy & Happy,
Yoga Chuck



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