Why do it? Kapalabhati is an incredibly energizing breath – better than coffee during a break. It strengthens the abdominal muscles, the diaphragm, and the heart. It massages the viscera (internal organs), stimulating digestion and elimination. Removes stale air and toxins from the lungs, cleansing the body. Energizes and massages the central nervous system, increasing energy, clarity, and alertness. The CSF (Cranio-Sacral Fluid) is being pumped more energetically around your brain, thus aka “polishing your skull” and promoting clarity of thought.
What is happening? The rapid and forceful exhalation and pumping of the abdomen and diaphragm are stimulating circulation, increasing the circulation in your body. The heart muscles are being stimulated with the squeezing, contracting movement and then the relaxation of the abdomen. This creates a “pumping” motion around the heart, stimulating circulation all the way up to your brain and skull (hence the name “skull polishing breath”). The pumping motion of the belly deeply massages and stimulates your internal organs, increasing health and energy levels. CSF (Cranio-Sacral Fluid, also known as cerebral-spinal fluid, found in the spinal column and surrounding the brain) changes pressure according to the natural respiratory rhythm. The sharp expulsions and rapid pace of Kapalabhati cause a tremendous shift in the pressure, causing the CSF to flow more rapidly, and be circulated around the brain – massaging the brain and enlivening every cell.
How to Practice:
1. Sit firmly in a cross-legged posture with the spine, neck and head held erect.
2. First, exhale completely and then take a few deep breaths.
3. Relax the abdominal muscles.
4. Inhale without taking a deep breath; make a short and forceful expulsion of the breath through both nostrils producing a hissing sound and, simultaneously, contract the lower abdomen by a rapid and vigorous thrust of the abdominal muscles.
5. Release the contraction of the abdominal muscles quickly and the lungs will automatically take in air. Follow at once by another forcible expulsion of your breath, contracting the abdomen in the same manner and letting it relax outward as the air is drawn in again.
6. Repeat the exercise a number of times in quick succession, concentrating your mind on the region of the abdomen below the navel.
7. After you complete a round and make the last exhalation, take in a deep and slow breath and then resume normal breathing to afford rest to the lungs.
8. As you are learning, practice a round of 15 to 25 repetitions. Gradually, overtime, progress to 50 reps then 75, perhaps to 120 reps per round should be the maximum. If you feel winded, slow down to allow yourself more time to inhale.
9. Perform three rounds in each sitting, with sufficient pause between the rounds, when normal breathing should be done.
– If you feel dizzy or light-headed stop for a few minutes then resume. Perhaps spend shorter amounts of time practicing this breath.
– If you have high blood pressure, check with a doctor