Kapalabhati – Shining Skull Breath
Kapala means skull and Bhati means to make shiny or to clean. Through quick, rapid expulsions of the breath, the nasal passages are cleansed and purified. Another interpretation of the name also comes from the physiological process whereby the cerebral spinal fluid receives a tremendous shift in pressure through the swift and sharp exhalations. This generates a massaging effect in your mind, enlivening every cell and creating a warm feeling of light and vitality around the kapala.
Begin sitting in a comfortable position and close your eyes. You can begin with the Ujjayi or Dirgha breath to focus your mind for a few minutes. When you feel ready, inhale, and let your belly expand to its fullest.
Exhale quickly through the nostrils by contracting the abdominal muscles – very much like the effect of your abdomen when you are coughing, then passively allow the inhalation to happen.
The only part that is being controlled in this breath is the exhalation when you pull your abs inward to expel all the air within the body. This releases deadly carbon dioxide and toxins that are not customarily forced.
Out with daily breathing. The inhalation happens naturally. When you feel comfortable, begin to pick up the pace and find your rhythm. After each round of 10-20 expulsions (for beginners), exhale entirely, empty all the air, and holding the air out as long as possible without gasping for air and with a straight spine.
When the need for breath becomes strong, inhale to 2/3 your capacity and hold the breath in for as long as possible, concentrating on your third eye point (between your eyebrows and above an inch).
When the need for inspiration becomes strong, resume normal breathing and take a few minutes to observe your state of being.
– Cleans out stale air and saturates the cells with oxygen
– Release large amounts of Carbon Dioxide and toxins, purifying the body
– Energizes & revitalizes entire system with prana
– Creates mental clarity and alertness
– Tones and strengthens abdominal muscles
– If you feel dizziness or light-headed stop so you can take a break for a few minutes, then resume.
– Perhaps spend shorter amounts of time practicing this breath.
– If you have high blood pressure, then you must consult with your doctor.
– Recent surgery
You first review these techniques with a certified teacher. Practice pranayama on an empty stomach. Feel free to see how pranayama fits into your practice.
Try it at the beginning of your sadhana, at the end or all by itself. Allow some time when you are done with your pranayama practice to notice the state of your body and mind. Most of all, check with a doctor before beginning any activity.