As Kapalbhati is a breathing exercise, it is known as a Pranayama but the original yogic scripture refers to it as one of the six cleansing techniques called ‘Kriyas’. You can read about these cleansing techniques in our Kriya section.
How to perform Kapalbhati Pranayama
Sit in Vajrasana, Siddhasana, Padmasana or Bhadrasana. Yashendu’s preference for this posture is to sit in Vajrasana.
Inhale deeply into your belly through your nose. Then start pumping out the air by forcing your belly in. The inhalation will be done automatically you should only focus on exhalation. Your abdominal muscles will contract and push the air out. When you release them, air is immediately sucked back in.
When you feel tired, you complete your round of Kapalbhati with a complete exhalation and hold the air out after that. Two rounds of breathing follow the first round. Then you inhale deeply and start all over again into the second round.
You can do this exercise 3 to 5 rounds or even more if you feel comfortable. You can also increase the number of exhalations per round by counting them and increasing them each time.
Benefits of Kapalbhati Pranayama
Kapalbhati is a very beneficial exercise for physical and mental health.
The movement of the belly in this breathing exercise is very good for your digestive system. It massages all abdominal organs as your spleen, pancreas, liver, kidneys, bladder, gall bladder, ovaries, fallopian tubes and urinary tract.
With regular practice of Kapalbhati, you stimulate your digestion and activate the Apan Vayu, which also helps digesting your food. It works with your complete digestive system, metabolism and intestines and helps to digest even food which is stuck in the intestines.
Through the work of this breathing technique, you can prevent food to produce ‘ama’ (waste) in your body and stop unnecessary fat preserves. People who suffered from constipation and other digestion problems have got big relief through the practice of Kapalbhati.
Low appetite and anorexia – if not caused psychologically – are also results of irregular digestion and problems with the metabolism. Kapalbhati solves those digestion problems and can thus increase your appetite again.
The exercise reduces Pitta, acidity in the body.
Obviously your diaphragm, lungs and heart will also benefit from Kapalbhati, as it gets used in unusual activity and the air which moves in your body brings out toxins. Diseases of the respiratory system like asthma, flue, cold, sinusitis and bronchitis can be relieved with this posture.
Kapalbathi increases the air and blood circulation in the upper body and brain and with it ears, eyes and nose. With this help to the blood circulation, you can even prevent heart strokes.
Diabetes patients should do this posture regularly as is brings the blood sugar to a normal level and helps the pancreas to release insulin.
It strengthens the muscles in the back especially the ones next to the spinal column and in the abdomen. Like this stamina and strength can be improved.
Breathing with this technique provides calmness and stability, increases the memory and is good against hysteria.
There are however also benefits to your beauty and shape: Kapalbhati purifies the blood and brings glow and shine to our skin. If you want to reduce some extra belly fat, do this exercise regularly and you will soon see an effect: a flattening belly.
This fire that it creates in the belly and which burns the fat is directly related to the third chakra, the Manipoor Chakra and you thus stimulate this chakra’s energy as well.
Focus on your belly and on the exhalation so that you exhale and don’t actively inhale. You only move your belly, not your hips and shoulders. Don´t jump up and down or make funny faces, simply concentrate on your exhalation.
Tips and Help
Always take two deep breaths between your rounds so that your system can relax from the previous round and that you can prepare your system for the next round.
If you are suffering from back pain please be gentle with your breathing. Then it will be good for your back pain. Performing Kapalbathi too forcefully can otherwise increase back pain.
When to Avoid Kapalbhati
Please avoid this posture if you are suffering from diarrhea.