Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kapal Bhati Pranayam

This is one of the pranayams recommended by Ramdevji Maharaj. I would think, this is the hardest of all the 7 pranayams recommended by him. Pranayam is proven to be very helpful for mental as well as body health.

Breathing exercises create balance of all doshas in the body. Especially the kapal bhati is known to balance the agni - ("FIRE ELEMENT" ) of Pancha Mahabhutas the basic elements - constituents of the human body.

I practiced this pranayam and still am learning to do it right. Best is to do it under the guidance of teacher personally. But in the Land of Free - its not easy to find a yoga pranayama teacher who doesn't cost arm and a leg. So, I thought I will post some of my experiences with kapal bhati.

In the beginning I used to watch video of Ramdevji Maharaj doing pranayama and do along with it. But eventually I started doing it on my own. One thing I used to do wrong about Kapal Bhati pranayam is I used to put force near my nose areas.. and I realized that's not the right way to do it.. First of all there should be no force at all in doing any of yoga's or pranayams - know that if
you are using force, you must be doing it wrong. And try to look for sources to correct it. and discontinue it until you correctly learn it.

So pressure if any, should be applied in abdomen area and diaphram - the diaphram that separates abdomen from lungs/chest. And Air should come out of both nostrils with gasps - making hiss noise. breathing in should be automatic - with zero effort - and should be medium force.

Here are some technicalities of this special pranayam -

Kapal in Sanskrit means FOREHEAD, and Bhati in Sanskrit means SHINING. Practicing Kapalbhati on regular basis leads to shining face with inner radiance. Kapalbhati is highly energizing abdominal breathing exercise.

In Kapalabhati we do quick exhalation and natural inhalation. 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 to be relaxed.

Step 2) Inhale deeply through both nostril, 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 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 filled 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 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 practice by those
a) Suffering from heart disease
b) High blood pressure
c) Hernia
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.

Common Mistake:
1) 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 practice on an empty stomach only.
d) Kapalbhati should be practiced after the asanas 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 supervision of yoga teacher after discussion with him about your health.

Kapal Bhati pranayama is one of the seven pranayamas recommended by Shri Ramdevji Maharaj. If you don't know (very unlikely) about Ramdevji Maharaj, click here.

Here is the entire video of the seven recommended pranayamas including Kapal Bhati.



cgull said...

Awesome article, Cassie and Sunil, I have bookmarked it and I am going to try this for sure. Please add photos or pictures later, it will help us do them the right way. Cheers :)

cgull said...

Sunil and Cassie, I did this exercise for the past few days, I love it. It seems like my eyes are even more fresher and seem to have more energy. I did only about 15 to 20 reptitions. I hope to do as the article says. Thanks a lot for sharing it. It works awesome, keep up the good work.

cgull said...

Great Job Cassie, nicely done, I will see the video later today. Looks great :).