PRANAYAMA (BREATHING TECHNIQUE) KAPALBHATI SKULL SHINING BREATH
Now who wouldn’t want a shining skull? This Pranayama (which means to extend the life force) can really invigorate and energise your system. I like to do it first thing in the morning and it’s best practised on an empty stomach. You forcibly use the abdominal muscles to release carbon dioxide from the lungs on the out breath and passively allow extra oxygen into the blood stream on the in breath, energising all the body’s systems. It is one of six Shatkarmas or methods of internal purification from Hatha Yoga. In Sanskrit, Kapal means the skull and Bhati means to shine or illuminate. The practice of Kapalbhati cleans the sinuses and can produce a light feeling in the forehead, hence the name.
It is used in Ayurveda to help with an excess of Kapha Dosha, which is located in the chest, heart, tongue, throat and nose. Formed from the elements of earth and water, excess Kapha can manifest as mucus and congestion, particularly during the winter, which is also Kapha Dosha season.
WHEN TO USE KAPALBHATI
In the morning: an energizing, invigorating wake-up call.
When you’re cold: a warming breath that allows you to build up heat in the body.
Mid-afternoon: to power out of the mid-day slump.
- Cleanses lungs and respiratory system
- Strengthens and tones diaphragm and abdominal muscles
- Releases toxins
- Increases oxygen to cells, purifying blood in the process
- Improves digestion
- Energises and clears mind
- Focuses attention
- Warms body
HOW TO DO KAPALBHATI (with yoga instructor guidance)
- Find a steady upright pose on the floor or chair.
- With an empty stomach take a few rounds of long inhales and exhales.
- Begin the practice – this is a reverse of normal breathing as the emphasis is on the exhale, not the inhale.
- Breathe out pulling back the abs to force the air out of the body.
- Keep the inhale passive and let the lungs fill.
- Take as many exhalations in this way as feels comfortable – there should be no straining. In the beginning this may just be one or two which is fine.
- Take a few normal breaths between rounds and only practise while it is still comfortable. Build up the practice slowly over time.
- All Pranayama practices should be learned under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor. If you have a medical condition, consult a doctor before taking up the practice.
WHEN NOT TO PRACTISE
Do not practice Kapalabhati if you are pregnant, or if you have high blood pressure, acid gastric issues, heart disease, stroke, epilepsy or abdominal pain. You should also stop or slow down if you feel dizzy or anxious.
With thanks to www.yogicwayoflife.com and www.chobra.com.