Kapalbhati Pranayama/Breathing Step by Step -by Subodh Gupta
(Updated on 25/05/2020) Kapal in Sanskrit means FOREHEAD, and Bhati in Sanskrit means SHINING. Practicing Kapalbhati on a regular basis leads to a shining face with an inner radiance.
Kapalbhati is a highly energizing abdominal breathing exercise. Note: I have noticed some of the prominent yoga gurus in India prescribing kapalabhati pranayama exercise for even half an hour which is absolutely not needed & could be even dangerous in case of high blood pressure, hernia, etc.
What we do in Kapalbhati Pranayama
In Kapalabhati we do quick exhalation and natural inhalation follow on its own. Normally exhalation takes one-fourth of the time of inhalation. Quick exhalation and natural inhalation follow each other.
How to do Kapalbhati Pranayama
Step 1) Sit in comfortable crossed leg position with Back straight. Hands resting on knees in either chin or gyana mudra. Face being relaxed.
Step 2) Inhale deeply through both nostrils, expanding abdomen, and exhale with the forceful contraction of abdominal muscles. (Pull the abdomen in by quickly contracting the abdominal muscles and exhale through the nose). The air is pushed out of the lungs by contraction of the diaphragm.
Step 3) After exhalation again inhalation but inhalation should not involve any effort. To inhale just relax and the lungs will automatically expand and fill with air. One can begin with 15 respiration. After completing 15 quick exhalation and natural inhalation, inhale and exhale deeply. This is one round. One can start the practice of Kapalbhati pranayama with 3 such rounds for practice.
Benefits of Kapalabhati
1) Kapalabhati cleanses the lungs and entire respiratory system.
2) The blood is purified and the body gets an increased supply of oxygen to all cells.
3) Digestion is improved.
4) Abdominal muscles are strengthened.
5) Prepare the mind for meditation.
6) Energize the mind for mental work.
Kapalbhati should not be practiced by those
a) Suffering from heart disease
b) High blood pressure
d) Should never be practiced when an asthmatic attack is in progress.
e) If pain or dizziness is experienced, it is preferable to stop the practice till the sensation has passed. Practiced can be restarted with less force.
f) Quick exhalation should be comfortable to oneself. i.e. quick exhalation should not be too forceful.
1) The abdomen is contracted while inhaling.
2) Shoulders are contracted to push the air out when exhaling.
3) Back and shoulders move during exercise.
Point to Note:
a) Exercise should not be done if you are feeling uncomfortable at any time during the exercise.
b) Rapid breathing used in this technique should be from the abdomen and not from the chest.
c) Kapalbhati should be practiced on an empty stomach only.
d) Ideally Kapalbhati should be practiced after the asanas or hatha yoga and Relaxation (at least 10 minutes) and before meditation
e) Chest should not move very much.
(f) It is always good and advisable that this exercise should be learned under the supervision of a yoga teacher after a discussion with him about your health.
Kapalbhati Frequently asked questions
Kapalbhati Video for beginners
How many times Kapalbhati should be done?
Ideally kapalabhati should be done 10-20 times @ 3 sets with breaks in between and that’s it.
It shouldn’t take more than 2-3 minutes. Some yoga gurus recommending it for 300 times or for 5 to 10 minutes which could be actually dangerous.
What is the best time to do Kapalbhati?
The best time to practice this kapalbhati breathing technique is in the morning after nature call (empty stomach).
Does Kapalbhati breathing reduce tummy/excess fat?
It is a breathing exercise to cleanse the lungs and freshen the mind. If some people who claim to lose weight it is perhaps because they might have constipation issues that get better because of kapalbhati and other yogic exercises afterward and hence lost weight.
Is Kapalbhati good for skin?
See kapalbhati breathing helps you to de-stress which is good for the mind and skin and hence you might feel improvement.
Does Kapalbhati increase weight?
No evidence as such which suggests that kapalabhati increases the weight.
Is Kapalbhati good for the liver?
Again it is a breathing exercise with the objective to cleans the lungs so other pranayama exercises can be done easily and also as an aid to meditation in addition to de-stress the mind. So obviously a relax mind is good for the whole body and in that sense, it can help the liver or all other body parts but not specifically aims to improve the liver. In fact, if you have hernia related issue it can actually worsen it.
The maximum time for kapalbhati and should I do for 30 minutes?
Kapalbhati shouldn’t be done for more than 2 to 3 minutes as it is not needed more than that and doing it for 30 minutes can be more harmful then any beneficial.
Is kapalbhati harmful?
Kapalbhati can be harmful if not done an empty stomach. In addition in the case of Hernia related health issues or high blood pressure or during asthma attack or uneasy breathing practice of kapalbhati can be dangerous. Watch both the above videos for more clarity.