Third in the series of Pranayama (yogic breathing) articles is the Kapalabhati breath. Not only does it energize the mind & body, but it increases lung capacity, removes toxins and stale air from the lungs and more. It’s a lot more intense than either Ujjayi Breath or 3-Part Breath, so take care with this one and stop if you get dizzy. If practiced correctly and on an empty stomach, the benefits are varied and great.
Kapalabhati (Shining Skull Breath)
- Find a comfortable seated position with the spine straight.
- Kapalabhati consists of short, forceful exhalations and passive inhalations.
- Take a few deep breaths, relax the body, relax the mind.
- Take a slow and steady inhalation expanding the belly.
- Exhale forcefully through the nostrils contracting the abdominal muscles in a pumping movement.
- Passively inhale, repeat several times. Go at your own rhythm, eventually increasing the pace.
- As you learn this pranayama, it may help to place one hand on the belly to feel the contraction that happens with each exhalation. It is like you are pumping the stomach.
- At the end of several rounds, exhale completely and hold the breath as long as comfortable, applying Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock).
- Chin lock: let the chin drop to the sternum without collapsing the shoulders forward. Lift the chest to meet the chin.
Benefits: energizes mind and body, revitalizes nervous system, brings mental clarify and alertness, increases lung capacity, massages abdominal organs (good for digestion, elimination), removes toxins and stale air from lungs, exercises and strengthens diaphragm, heart, lungs and nerves. Beneficial for common cold, sinusitis, cough, and deviated nasal septum.
Contraindications: recent abdominal or lung surgery, full stomach, menstruation, pregnancy, emphysema or other serious lung conditions, heart disease, un-medicated high blood pressure, slip disc, hernia, cancer in abdominal region, colitis.