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Yoga: Kapalabhati Pranayama



Kapalabhati (pronounced KAH-pah-lah-BAH-tee) (aka Kapalbhati, or Bhalabhai in the Gherand Samhita), is an important part of Shatkarma (sometimes known as Shatkriya), the yogic system of body cleansing techniques. The word kapalbhati is made up of two words: kapal meaning 'skull' (here skull includes all the organs in and under the skull too) and bhati meaning 'shining, illuminating.' Due to the process, the organs in and under the skull mainly the brain, small brain and any of the spaces inside the head that are connected to the back of the nose (sinus) are influenced in a good manner. Hence the word is used in that way. It is intended mainly for cleaning the cranial sinuses but has many other effects including curing anemia, according to the Gherand Samhita and other sources. The Technique of Kapalabhati involves short and strong forceful exhalations and inhalation happens automatically.

There are three forms of Kapalabhati:

Vatakrama kapalabhati, a practice similar to Bhastrika, a technique of Pranayama, except that exhalation is active while inhalation is passive, the opposite of normal breathing.

Vyutkrama kapalabhati, a practice similar to Jala neti, it involves sniffing water through the nostrils and letting it flow down into the mouth and then spitting it out.

Sheetkrama kapalabhati, can be considered the reverse of Vyutkrama kapalabhati, in which water is taken through the mouth and then expelled through the nose.


Steps to do this pose :

Sit comfortably on your yoga mat. Keep your spine erect and your palms on your knees facing downwards. Now exhale through your nose and pull your stomach in towards your spine. When you loosen your stomach muscles you will automatically breathe in. Quickly contract your stomach muscles again and exhale. Your stomach muscles should be doing the work of pushing out and pulling in air. Do this initially about 50 times; you can increase the number of repetitions as you feel more comfortable with the practice. After doing this form of breathing you will initially feel some soreness around the muscles of your stomach and abdomen. This is normal. Tip: Avoid doing this pose if you have high blood pressure, a hernia or heart disease.

 

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