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In Sanskrit ‘kapal’ means skull; ‘bhati’ means shining. Kapalbhati is considered to be so cleansing to the entire system that, when practiced on a regular basis the face shines with good health and radiance. Although a breathing exercise, Kapalbhati is actually one of the ‘Shat Kriyas’ (Six cleansing exercises).
Sit in a cross-legged position, with the back straight and the head erect. Take two to three deep breaths to prepare for Kapalbhati. After the last deep inhalation:
1. Contract the abdominal muscles quickly, causing the diaphragm to move up into the thoracic cavity and pushing the air out of the lungs forcefully.
2. Relax the abdominal muscles allowing the diaphragm to descend into the abdominal cavity; passive inhalation takes place. The lungs automatically expand and inflate with air. Do not inhale forcefully.
Repeat this pumping quickly. Passive inhalation and sudden expulsion of breath follow each other continuously until a round is completed.
End on the exhalation, and follow each round with two to three deep breaths and retention.
Beginners may start with three rounds of 20-30 pumping each. Gradually increase to five rounds of 50-100 pumping.
Kapalbhati should not be practiced during pregnancy; nor when any abdominal pain or cramping
Preparation: With your right hand form Vishnu Mudra by folding down the index and middle fingers. Close the right nostril with the thumb and exhale completely through the left. You are now ready to begin:
1. Inhale completely through the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed. This should be done to a count of ‘4’ for beginners and increased only after regular practice.
2. Close the left nostril with the other two fingers so that both nostrils are now closed. Retain the breath for a count of ’16’ (4 times the count of the inhalation).
3. Keeping the left nostril closed release the right nostril and exhale completely to a count of ‘8’ (twice the count of the inhalation).
4. With the left nostril closed, inhale through the right to a count of ‘4’.
5. Close both nostrils and retain the breath to a count of ’16’.
6. keeping the right nostril closed, release the fingers from the left nostril and exhale completely for a count of ‘8’ to complete one round.
Do at least five rounds at the beginning of each practice.
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