Fire Breathing (Kapalabhati)
Classically, Kapalabhati comes in Kriya, cleansing therapies of Yoga. As it is practicing with breathing, hence classified under the Pranayama category. It is called fire breathing, as it improves digestive and metabolic activities. The upper abdominal muscles are more working in this practice. Kapalabhati derived from two words, kapala means skull and Bhati meaning cleansing, so practicing Kalapabhati cleanses and shines your skull or head. This practice involves passive inhalation and short active exhalations. It comes under active pranayama.
Preparations for practice:
Sit in Sukhasana (Lotus pose) or Vajrasana (Diamond Pose) or any other comfortable position with your spine and back straight, chin straight, shoulders and neck relaxed. You may sit on a cousin or pillow, for your comfort. Only use your nose to breathe in and breathe out. Preferably closed eyes throughout the practice.
Step 1: Position of hands – It is not necessary to keep hands in any mudra, preferably in chin mudra or palms cupping on knees. To increase the awareness on the belly, place one hand on the upper abdomen during the practice.
Step 2: Inhale through both nostrils, deeply and slowly, fill your lungs.
Step 3: Now quickly contract your abdomen inward, actively and forcefully, with quickly force out the air through nostrils. If you need, with your hands, gently press the abdomen in.
Step 4: Release the contraction and brings the abdomen back to normal, with a passive and quick inhalation.
Step 5: Repeat the contraction and relaxation of the abdomen muscles with the breath for 20 times.
After the first round of 20 strokes ‘Kapalabhati’, rest your palms cupping on knees, breathe normally and rest for 30 seconds. Focus on your breathing and notice the changes. Repeat the practice for 2 more rounds with rest in between. After the third round, rest for 60 seconds. Here you completed the Kapalabhati.
- Improves digestion and metabolism
- Energizes body and mind and stimulates the energy channels
- Unblocks the nostrils, sinuses and respiratory tract
- Cleanses the lungs and increases lung capacity
- Improves oxygen supply to body tissues
- Calms the nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety