Posted by on 5/23/2021 to Let's Talk Yoga!
Kapalabhati Pranayama (Breath of Fire or Skull Shining Breath): Steps & Benefits of Kapalabhati Breathing
Kapalabhati Pranayama - the Breath of Fire - is a technique that belongs to pranayama, an area of competence of Yoga that takes care of the breath.
It is a very ancient breathing technique of Hatha yoga that purifies the front part of the brain. This technique serves to generate energy in the body and to increase the level of concentration.
It also has a purifying effect on the lungs, balances and strengthens the nervous system and tones the digestive organs by eliminating sleepiness.
This breath ensures the global oxygenation of the whole body by giving energy to the mind and activating all the energy centers of the body, thus deserving the name of Breath of Fire.
This yogic breathing technique has multiple psycho-physical and spiritual benefits. It helps healing as it purifies the whole system, internally stops thoughts. Here we will see how to perform Kapalbhati Pranayama breathing, the benefits and contraindications of the practice.
The word "kapal" means "skull" or "forehead" and "bhati" means "light" or "shining" and also, "perception" or "knowledge". Kapalbhati is therefore, the practice that brings a state of light or clarity to the frontal region of the brain. Another name of this practice is "kapalshodana" where the word "shodana" means "to purify".
Here are some health benefits of Kapalbhati Pranayama
It is a breathing exercise that helps oxygenate the body, strengthening the muscles of your stomach and abdomen.
It can help tone the belly, improve digestion, circulation.
Kapalbhati improves circulation, slows the aging process and helps relax the facial muscles and the entire nervous system.
It is the best way to awaken the Ajna chakra (or third eye).
Kapalabhati breathing steps
• Sit in a comfortable or meditative position
• The hands are in a mudra or on the knees
• Keep your head and spine erect
• Close your eyes and relax your whole body
• Inhale deeply through the nose, expanding the abdomen and always exhale through the nose, strongly contracting the abdominal muscles, without creating tension
• The next inhalation takes place passively, letting the abdominal muscles expand
• The inspiration must come from a spontaneous, effortless return
• At the beginning, you can keep a hand on the abdomen to feel that it expands and contracts
• To begin, practice 10 breaths in succession, then inhale and exhale deeply
• This is a cycle, practice 3 to 5 cycles (of 10 or 20 breaths)
• After performing the practice, maintain awareness of emptiness in the area in the center between the eyebrows, perceiving the feeling of emptiness and serenity.
• It is important that the breathing in this technique is abdominal and not thoracic
• The amount of breaths can be increased from the initial 10, up to 20, when the abdominal muscles are stronger.
• Advanced practitioners can increase the number of cycles to 10 or more. Longer periods it is important that they are practiced only with an expert guide
• The practice can be performed at any time of the day, but only on an empty stomach, 3-4 hours after meals
Kapalabhati Pranayama is usually practiced after the Asanas or immediately before the meditation and concentration techniques. It can also be practiced at any time of the day as long as it is on an empty stomach. As you become good at the practice you can increase your breaths and cycles.