Many different cultures and ancient civilizations have practiced various breathing exercises. These exercises were used to control the breathing, thereby stimulating and increasing the body energy.
There are numerous exercises, but one of the most effective is the Kapalabhati, also known as “glowing head”. This exercise is increasing the mental potential, so her name (from the Sanskrit Kaphala – forehead, Bhati – light)) is totally fitting.
It is believed that with a proper breathing a man can live up to 200 years.
Since breathing is directly connected to the work of the heart, slower breathing means slower heart rate and vice versa. The heart of a mouse beats so up to 1000 times per minute, and this animal has a very short life span, while the heart rate of an elephant beats 25 times per minute. It is therefore not difficult to conclude the importance of proper breathing, which in today’s world does not receives enough attention.
Benefits of the Kapalabhati exercise
- Helps in removing the excess mucus from the body, strengthens the solar plexus (which is basically the pillar of the whole body), purifies and strengthens the lungs;
- Kapalabhati is dual exercise – breathing exercises (pranayama) and yogic exercises cleaning (Kriya);
- Due to the specifics of this exercise (strong exhaling and sucking in your belly), our body completely “purifies” itself from carbon dioxide;
- At the same time this exercise brings oxygen into the bloodstream, which distributes it throughout the body;
- Due to the improved supply of oxygen in the blood and brain, this exercise purifies the mind, improves concentration, giving peace and stability without negative thoughts, depression or tension;
- Increases mental potential and activates the pineal and pituitary glands;
- Affects all vital organs in the abdominal cavity – the reproductive organs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, stomach, intestines, etc. When these organs begin to weaken, the body begins to age. Exercise Kapalabhati strengthens those organs, thus allowing the body to maintain a youthful appearance and vitality;
How to properly practice Kapalabhati
Sit in a position comfortable for meditation – make sure that your spine, neck and head are in a straight position. Your hands should be relaxed, palms flat and facing up. Exaltation is through your nose, while simultaneously squeezing your abdomen inward. Breathing (through the nose) is relaxed, natural and normal. When you exhale, squeeze all the muscles of the stomach and lower abdomen. The rest of the body is relaxed and quiet (face, neck, hands). Exhalation is every second.
The duration of this exercise is 10-15 minutes. If you can not perform it with this duration, you can start with 5 minutes in three series. To achieve its benefits, the minimum time to perform is 5 minutes.
In the beginning you can experience pain in the back and abdomen, which will disappear after a while. Kapalabhati should be performed early in the morning on empty stomach or 3-4 hours after meal. It is not recommended to be performed late at night because it can cause insomnia.
Not recommended for:
- People who have heart problems, very high blood pressure, dizziness, epilepsy, vomiting or stomach ulcer;
- Pregnant women;
To properly perform this exercise you will require guidance from a qualified yoga teacher.