Kapalabhati is a common yoga breath technique in Kundalini yoga. Here’s what it does, and how to practice Breath of Fire…
Breathwork (known as Pranayama in yoga) is an essential part of the yogic practice. No matter what type of yoga you practice, you’ll find a focus on the breath goes hand-in-hand with the physical movements and postures. Conscious breathwork helps to connect your energy and mental focus with your physical poses. It’s no wonder that Kundalini yoga – with its particular blend of physical and spiritual – relies heavily on breathwork practices.
There are a number of different breath techniques that are used in Kundalini yoga classes. Breath of Fire (Kapalabhati) is an energizing breath practice that is often used in combination with Kundalini yoga postures to help energize the body and mind.
Breath of Fire is also considered to be an important purification technique, and it is thought to help remove toxins and negative energy from the body. The Sanskrit word Kapalabhati translates roughly to “brain illuminating,” as this practice is thought to refresh and energize the brain while clearing and cleansing the sinuses.
Here are a few more benefits of Breath Of Fire, according to YogaPractice.com:
Strengthens and balances the navel chakra
The navel chakra, also known as the Solar Plexus chakra or Manipura in Sanskrit, is connected to confidence, self-esteem, and willpower. Having a balanced navel chakra brings inner peace and helps you have more control and confidence when dealing with your thoughts and emotions.
Expands lung capacity
Breath of Fire purifies and expands the lungs. The more lung capacity you have, the more oxygen you’ll be able to breathe throughout your body. This increase in oxygen helps to cleanse the blood. Expanding lung capacity also brings about a sense of increased vitality as more oxygen flows to the brain.
Cleanse toxins from the body
Kapalabhati detoxifies the body through breath, clearing toxins from the blood vessels and lungs. When breathing is done correctly, Breath of Fire increases the circulation of blood throughout the body. This helps to remove a build-up of the toxins and other harmful chemicals and substances we come into contact with every day…
Regulate the glandular system
Overcome addicting cravings
Strengthen the nervous system and lower stress
…Studies show that the Kapalabhati technique, with its rapid breath, can reduce stress. Just 30 minutes of breath awareness using Breath of Fire can lower blood pressure and respiratory breathing, helping to put stress into a manageable perspective. Results of numerous studies indicate that pranayama is one of the most important elements of yoga practices in strengthening the nervous system and promoting health and well-being.
As the pranayama breathing of Kapalabhati increases blood flow throughout your body, it’s easier for you to relax and feel calm – this can help reduce pain and discomfort from a variety of ailments, such as headaches, arthritis pain, and sore muscles after a workout. Results of research done on pranayama, including Breath of Fire, shows how beneficial regulated breathing can be to manage pain.
The Breath of Fire is an energetic breath technique, and although not difficult, it can take a bit of practice to master, as most people are not used to breathing in this dynamic way. If you’re new to Kapalabhati, start with just 30 seconds at a time, and go slower if you need to. Keep your focus on the belly, and if you feel dizzy or lightheaded, stop or slow down. You can make the breaths faster and more powerful once you become accustomed to the technique.
It is recommended to practice Breath of Fire on an empty stomach, and as this type of breathing can be stimulating, you should avoid practicing it before bed.
Those who are pregnant, or who have high blood pressure, gastric problems, or a heart condition should avoid this practice. You may wish to consult your doctor to be sure Breath of Fire is safe for you.
How to Practice Breath of Fire:
- Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit, such as on your mat in a cross-legged position. Rest your hands on your knees with an open-palm mudra. If you’re unable to sit comfortably on the floor, a chair will work as well. Keep your spine erect and straight.
- Your focus should first be on your breath. Exhale your breath through the nose, using force and sound. Think about clearing your nostrils but with less intensity. After a long exhale, inhale with minimal force.
- Continue with this rhythm of breath exhale/inhale, breathing in and out for 20 breath cycles in 15 seconds. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.
- Bring in the movement of your belly. When you exhale, contract the muscles in your belly and pull your navel in towards the spine. Feel the effort of this contraction. Hold for a second and then release as you inhale. Repeat this 20 times in about 30 seconds. If you’re finding it difficult to contract your belly, go at a slower pace. This movement of breath with belly contraction is perhaps the most important part of the pranayama. As you keep practicing, you’ll find it comes more naturally.
Learn more at YogaPractice.com…