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Kapalbhati Breathing … How does that help?

Thousands of years ago the Ancients discovered the power of breath to heal mentally, physically and emotionally. Western medicine is beginning to embrace its powers as well, prescribing yogic breathing for reducing stress, anxiety and depression. And, it costs next to nothing.

Yogic breathing is a fascinating subject to me. I am intrigued by how one’s emotions, energy levels, attitude and sense of well-being can be changed simply by adjusting breathing patterns. And, as we discussed last month, it’s an effective tool for weight management.

There are many breathing techniques and patterns in yoga with a variety of benefits and effects. This month we’ll explore some of them, and I encourage you to give it a try. I promise that, done consistently, it will change your life for the better.

Kapalbhati Breathing

One of these techniques is called Kapalbhati. It’s relatively straight forward, making it a good place to start. When practiced over time, benefits can include:

  • Improvement in blood circulation
  • Increase in the metabolic rate
  • Improvement of digestion
  • Energizing the nervous system
  • Calming and uplifting of the mind
  • Strengthening the core and reducing belly fat
  • Assisting in weight management
  • Eliminating toxins

While Kapalbhati has many good benefits, it should not be practiced

  • by those suffering from gastric issues such as ulcers; high blood pressure; heart disease; epilepsy or hernia
  • by those who have had recent abdominal surgery
  • during or shortly after pregnancy and during menstruation

Here’s the process for practicing Kapalbhati:

  • Sit comfortably with an erect spine and hands resting on your legs or belly. You can sit in a chair if the floor is not comfortable.
  • Close your eyes or keep a soft gaze
  • Take several easy breaths to bring your attention to your breath and to your practice
  •  Relax your stomach muscles and begin Kapalbhati breathing by expelling the air through your nose as forcefully as you comfortably can. You will feel your belly muscles contract and move back toward your spine
  • Allow your inhale to occur automatically through your nose. Inhale is not forced. Rather it feels like a natural response after the strong exhale.
  • Repeat this process – strong exhale followed by a relaxed inhale – for 10 breaths
  • Rest for a moment and observe the sensations in your body. If you feel a little dizzy or lightheaded back off the intensity of the exhale
  • Repeat one or two more rounds of 10 breaths each. Again, if you feel dizzy lighten the force of the exhale or stop completely and return to normal breathing

Yoga makes us more observant and more aware whether we practice it through asana, pranayama, meditation or all three. With regular practice, over time, you will just naturally want to take better care of your health.

Joanne Thompson

Joanne Thompson

Founder/Owner at Yoga for Self

Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
Joanne Thompson

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