KAPALBHATI – This cleansing process is related to respiratory system. It also affects all the parts of the respiratory system (From nose to Alveoli).
Technique of Kapalbhati
Any meditative posture can be adopted for the practice of Kapalbhati. Padmasana is the best preferred because the triangular base formed gives more stability and also it enables to maintain the erect posture of the spine. After adopting the posture, one should observe the normal breathing. The technique of Kapalbhati is to start with forceful exhalation continued with smooth inhalation through both the nostrils.
Ribs are kept slightly raised and contracted throughout the practise of Kapalbhati. The muscles which move freely are the diaphragm and the front abdominal muscles. The fall and rise of the ribs are very slight during the Kapalbhati and are almost negligible.
Forceful exhalation is performed during rechaka, by suddenly and vigorously contracting the abdominal muscles one should make on inward and upward push. This action pushes up the diaphragm towards thorax, thus the air is expelled out forcefully.
Puraka is performed very naturally by relaxing the abdominal muscles which in turn descends the diaphragm, thus the vertical diaphragm diameter of the thorax increases and internal pressure of lungs is lowered in order to make it equal to atmospheric pressure, the external air that moves in puraka is passive and supplementary act, no contraction is required. Simply by relaxing the abdominal muscles the puraka is done. The volume of the air inhaled during puraka should be equal to volume of air exhaled during rechaka.
Rechaka and puraka are performed in a quick succession. Puraka follows rechaka and rechaka follows puraka without a break till one round is completed. Every round should begin with rechaka (exhalation) and should end with puraka (inhalation). Have a smooth inhalation by relaxing abdominal muscles, then start forceful exhalation by contracting the abdominal muscles. Every forceful exhalation should end smooth inhalation. As the abdominal muscles are relaxed in each and every stroke there will be comfort in continuing the practise. The sound of the expiration is heard well and sound of inspiration is passive. The time duration of rechake is less than the puraka.
Glottis in Kapalbhati
It is advised to keep the glottis opened during the practise. There is one tradition, recommends slight narrowing of the glottis in Kapalbhati. This is to be done very slight that the expelled air is not likely to be held back to any appreciable extent.
Kapalbhati and Formation of Mula Bandha
The vibrations created during Kapalbhati positively results in contraction of the perineum and anal sphincters. This action involuntarily forms mula bandha. But, it is advised for the beginners not to have intentional formation of mula bandha.
Regular practitioner can increase the duration of this for one minute carefully and can do three rounds, taking few normal breathing in between each round. The abdominal strokes should be rhythmic and uniform. The numbers of strokes should be two per second that is 120 stokes per minute. After practicing for one minute, end with smooth inhalation. Initially, one cannot practice continuously for one minute. This can be split 2-3 times and gradually the number of strokes can be increased. Increasing the number of strokes is safer than increasing the force of the strokes.
Oxygen Consumption in Kapalbhati
In normal breathing we breath 16 to 20 times per minute. But during Kapalbhati practice we breath 120 times per minute. This increases the consumption of O2 and elimination of CO2. The oxygen consumption increases and carbon-di-oxide is flushed out in the practise of Kapalbhati. Due to that the respiratory centre is not stimulated for breathing, on the contrary it is inhibited and one experiences a quietened or a tranquihzed state of mind as there will be spontaneous stand still of respiration (apnea).
Spiritual aspirants can concentrate on the charkas during the practice. (Manipura at naval (or) visuddhi at throat). A physical culturist can concentrate on the breathing pattern for better effect.
Precautions while performing Kapalbhati
- This kriya is practised according to the individual’s capacity without giving heavy jerks (powerful strokes).
- Always practise in an empty stomach.
- Kapalbhati vibrates every tissue in the human body so increase your practice very slowly.
- Vigour and speed, number of rounds should be determined cautiously, judiciously and with proper knowledge.
- If there is a feeling of giddiness one should not continue the practice.
- Take care that higher force friction of the air must not lead to any injury in the delicate parts of the mucous membrane.
- In between the rounds take normal breathing or give rest to the system to avoid fatigue or tiredness or giddiness.
- The posture should be padmasana, spine erect, chest slightly expanded, eyes closed, and hands on the knees with fingers kept in jnana mudra.
- No undue strain should be given during the practice.
- Keep the face muscles in a relaxed manner.
- The abdominal stroke should be complete. The contraction and relaxation of the abdominal muscles should be similar and uniform in all the rounds.
Benefits of Kapalbhati
For Spiritual Aspirants
Kapalbhati helps for the practise of pranayama, it also helps in increasing-concentration. It gives good exercise and massage to all the internal organs of the chest and abdomen. By this action all internal organs work smoothly.
For Healthy Persons
Kapalbhati increases the lung capacity and improves the efficiency of gas exchange (O2 and CO2) in the lungs. As Kapalbhati gives good exercise to the diaphragm and whole of the respiratory organs, the yoga practice like asana, pranayama become easy.
Beneficial practice for the diseases like common cold, cough, rhinitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis, deviated nasal septum, bronchitis, tuberculosis and emphysema.
Gives good massage to the digestive system and improves the functions like digestion, absorption and peristaltic movement etc. remedy in case of indigestion, gastritis, hyperacidity and constipation.
There is an increase in red blood cell (RBC), haemoglobin (Hb) and eosinophils in the blood as on effect of Kapalbhati kriya. Increased heart rate, blood circulation and higher concentration of oxygen stimulate whole body activity in greater level.
Kapalbhati can be used to the diseases caused due to slow blood circulation. It is more beneficial to the people having heavy body and feeling exhausted to move their body remedy to those who are suffering from obesity. It reduces the depository fat in the abdomen. Kapalbhati helps for better perfusion and filtration in the kidney.
Hormones secretion has direct relation with emotion. The effect of emotions on the adrenals produces high blood pressure and increased heart rate, on pancreas will lead to diabetes, on sexual glands produce impotence in males and sudden menstruation in women and on thyroid to produce myxoedema.
Kapalbhati helps to stimulate and regulate the glands so that functioning of the glands get normalized.
The sympathetic nervous system is initially stimulated during the process and by continued practice the sympathetic and para-sympathetic balance is well kept.
The brain cells are invigorated continuously during the performance of Kapalbhati. Increased level cleanses and revitalizes the functions of the brain cells. Memory cells and many other cells in the brain are brought into action.
Effect on Mental Health
Blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood circulation are found to be within the normal physiological limit during long time (10 mm.) practice of Kapalbhati. The practitioners do not feel tired or exhausted but feel light, calm and peaceful state in their mind.
Continuous practise of Kapalbhati increases the consumption of oxygen (O2) and elimination of Carbon-di-oxide (CO2) in the blood. The chemical stimuli to the respiratory centre becomes weak and quiet as blood is saturated with O2, thus the respiratory centre is not stimulated.
The breath gets into spontaneous stand still which is termed as kevala kumbhaka, mind attains inner bliss and thoughtless state. Kapalbhati can be effectively used to treat diseases related to mind as it gives a feeling of bliss, immanent stand still of respiration and thoughtless state of mind and enters into complete peace and tranquillity.
- Patients suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, spondylosis, slip disc and hernia should avoid Kapalbhati
- Do not practice if there is any serious injury in the respiratory tract especially in the nose (bleeding).
- If there is pain in abdomen or chest, fever, headache do not practise Kapalbhati.
- Women during menstrual periods and pregnancy should not practice Kapalbhati.
- Kapalbhati should not be practised during acute condition of any disease.