Kapalbhati – Shining Skull or Frontal Lobe Cleansing
Kapala – Skull, Bhati – Shining
Kapalbhati is one of the six cleansing techniques (Shat Kriyas), this is sometimes forgotten as it usually comes in with the practice of pranayama techniques.
Normally, when we breathe our inhalation is active or effort-full and our exhalation is passive. What do we mean by this? When inhaling, we actively use muscles to expand our chest, abdomen, and clavicles to draw air into the lungs, but to exhale we relax these elastic muscles, which revert back to their original shape and expel the air. In Kapalbhati we reverse this process, with an active or effort-full exhalation and passive inhalation.
How does it work? When we pull in/pump the lower abdominal muscles then we decrease the space which pushes the diaphragm up. This decreases the volume of the lungs leading to exhalation. When we relax the muscles then the diaphragm comes back to the original position increasing the volume of the lungs, which draws air in. If you feel like you have run out of breath, stop, take a deep inhale and try again.
- Sit in a comfortable position on the floor (Sukhasana, Vajrasana, Padmasana etc.) making sure the spine is straight.
- Keep your face, nose and throat completely relaxed.
- Take a few deep breaths finishing on an inhale, completely filling the lungs.
- Contract the lower abdominal muscles (below the naval) forcefully to expel the air out of your lungs (the same action your might use to blow your nose or cough)
- For the inhalation, let the stomach relax, so that the diaphragm is drawn gently down and air comes back in.
- With practice this should become a pumping action, repeat 30 times to complete one round. (there is no need to do this very fast)
- Allow the breath to return to the natural state. Then take another deep inhale and repeat the process two more rounds.
- Over time you can increase the number of ‘pumps’ in each round.
- Increases metabolism
- Helps treating bronchial asthma
- Reduces anaemia
- Clears mucous from the system
- Activates the small intestine, adrenals and pancreas
- Brings a feeling of alertness and clarity to the mind
- Helps to relieve chronic constipation
- Full stomach (wait at least 4 hours after food but preferably practice in the morning)
- Recent surgery
- Stomach Ulcers