Kapalbhati is one of the easiest and most famous yoga exercises around the world, It will help you strengthen and improve your respiratory function, helps you relax and it also improves your mental health other than that, unlike other yoga asanas it won’t reap any physical health benefits.
As we all know, almost every yoga exercise revolves around proper breathing that’s also the case with this yoga exercise. Kapalbhati pranayama is also known as ‘breath of fire’ to get this meaning we have to break down the words, ‘Kapal’ meaning skull/forehead and ‘Bhati’ meaning shinning last but not least ‘pranayama’ meaning breathing.
Our breathing pattern has amazing effects on our health, breathing is closely connected to our emotional and mental health. Breathing patterns can have a great influence on one’s emotional and mental health it is also vice versa. Some studies have shown that by breathing properly in a matter of minutes you can calm down your mind and get relaxed (1). By improving our breathing way we can decrease the production of stress hormones and activate the body’s lymphatic system which plays an important role in our immune system.
In this asana, we have to get into an advanced level of breathing that will help you strengthen your chest and organs around it, cleanse the abdominal organs, and revitalize your immune system. When done correctly kapalbhati can help you reduce your workload stress and other life stresses and it will soothe your mind and that will help you get a good sleep.
How to do kapalbhati
- Sit down on a mat or on a floor comfortably with your spine straight.
- Now place your hand on your knees with your palm facing up towards the sky, next fold index fingers of both hands in such a way that the tips of your index fingers touch the tip of thumb fingers.
- Now close your eyes and relax your muscles but keep your spine straight.
- Focus on the abdominal region and take a deep breath in through your nostrils.
- Now exhale and while you’re exhaling make sure to pull your navel back towards the spine, pull your navel back as much as you can.
- When you exhale it should be an outburst meaning it should be fast, during the navel pull and exhalation you would be able to hear a hissing sound.
- Now as you relax your abdominal, breathe automatically flows into your lungs.
- Take at least 20 to 25 breathes a round to complete one set of kapalbhati and try to do 3 to 5 rounds per day.
Mistakes to avoid – Makes sure when you inhale your stomach should come outward and when you exhale your stomach should press inwards. Instead of focusing on inhale process try focusing on exhalation after some time inhaling process will sync with exhalation and you will have smooth breathing. Remember exhalation should be forceful and inhalation should be passive throughout the exercise.
This exercise should not be performed immediately after a meal.
Note – Avoid doing this exercise if you’re someone who is suffering from some heart condition, blood pressure, having chronic bleeding in the nose, migraine, backache due to slip disk, and stroke. Pregnant women should avoid doing the exercise due to forceful breathing can have a negative effect on the child.
Even though it’s a somewhat technical exercise with many health benefits and it’s easy to do that doesn’t mean that you should overdo it. Anything that is done in excess no matter how good, can have negative effects on your health. Like doing kapalbhati in excess can lead you to have nausea, headaches, high blood pressure, and a hernia. You can also get a vomiting sensation if you’re not doing kapalbhati on an empty stomach.
Benefits of kapalbhati
- The breathing process of active exhalation and passive inhalation helps with the correction of low blood circulation in the blood. It also de-stresses your mind.
- It energizes your nerves, helps you gain more control over your mind.
- Due to such a forceful breathing pattern, it helps in increasing the capacity of the lungs and strengthens them. It also leads to an increase in stamina.
- The advanced level of breathing helps in the reduction of CO2 levels in your blood, therefore, increasing the oxygen level in your blood.
- Regular practice of kapalbhati will help you remove harmful and waste toxins from your body.
- Kapalbhati breathing technique helps in increase of pitta, meaning metabolic rate that will help you in weight loss process.
- It activates our brain cells that improve our memory and concentration powers.
- It will help you relieve stress and anxiety.
- It improves blood circulation and the digestion process.
- Doing kapalbhati regularly will help the person that is suffering from acidity and gas-related problems.
- It will make you sweat and that will open up your skin purs allowing toxins to come out that will improve your skin health and after the bath, you will have a different skin glow.
- Practicing this asana will calm your mind and help you sleep.
- It helps by increasing the production of endorphin hormones that it in turn will help you improve your mood.
- Some studies have shown that it can cause hair growth.
- It will help you improve your overall mood and surround you with positive energy.
Kapalbhati will help you breathe correctly and improve your breathing pattern as well as provide various health benefits but if your goal is to improve overall physical health you will have to do a lot more than just kapalbhati such as cycling, jumping ropes, walking, or workout.