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Breathing exercise: Kapalabhati

Dec 05, 2012

In Sanskrit the word "kapala" means skull, "bhati" means bright. Kapalabhathi It is a pranayama or prana (vital energy) control exercise, but it is also considered a “kriya” or one of the six main purification or cleansing exercises in Yoga. When practiced regularly, the entire system is cleaned so that the face shines with good health and splendor. With normal breathing we get very little prana, but when we concentrate and consciously regulate our breathing we can store a greater amount of vital energy and quiet the mind. Our state of mind is reflected in the way we breathe, in such a way that by learning to control our breathing, we will control our state of mind. Basically the Kapalabhathi It consists of a series of rhythmic contractions of the abdomen followed by a retention of air. The exhalations-inhalations carry out a cleaning on the lungs and in general on the entire respiratory system, while retention causes an increase in energy at a general level. A lap of Kapalabhati Sit cross-legged, with your back straight and your head comfortably erect and your eyes closed. Check that your knees are not too high. If necessary, use a cushion to raise the pelvis slightly off the ground. Take two or three deep breaths in preparation for Kapalabhathi. After the last deep breath: 1.- Contract the muscles of the abdomen quickly, causing the diaphragm to move towards the chest cavity and forcefully expel the air from the lungs through the nose. 2.- Relax the muscles of the abdomen allowing the diaphragm to descend into the abdominal cavity and perform a passive inhalation without forcing. 3.- Repeat the pumping quickly. Passive inhalation and forceful expulsion of air through the nose occur continuously. At the end of the pump, take two or three deep breaths until the respiratory rate calms down, exhale completely until there is no air left in the lungs, and then inhale about three-quarters of your lung capacity while holding your breath. During the retention bring all the energy to the point between the eyebrows, Ajna Chakra, where you can visualize a point of bright light. In this exercise, the back and shoulders must remain immobile and the facial muscles relaxed when exhaling. Inhalation is passive, smooth, slow and silent. The expulsion of air is active, fast, forced and audible. To start, practice three laps of 20-30 pumps each and gradually work your way up to 50-100 laps. The increase in pumping must be slow, at a rate of ten per week in each lap, so that our body adapts to the exercise. Between each lap introduce an air retention of 50-60 seconds without it becoming uncomfortable. This exercise activates the central and autonomic nervous system, so it is recommended to practice it first thing in the morning. On the other hand, its practice is not recommended at night, before going to bed, since it will cause an increase in energy at a general level that could make it difficult for us to fall asleep. You should not start this exercise until you have practiced alternate breathing (Anuloma viloma), as many people find it difficult to move the diaphragm properly during breathing. There may be a tendency to move the diaphragm counter to its natural direction during Kapalabhathi. Those who breathe incorrectly contract their abdominal muscles and raise their shoulders as they inhale. You have to wait for the diaphragm to move in a natural way to start doing the pumping that the practice of Kapalabhathi. In this way, a good preparation to perform this exercise correctly is abdominal breathing. Briefly described, abdominal breathing consists of relaxing the abdominal muscles, allowing the abdomen to gently rise on inhalation and allowing it to fall on exhalation. In addition to this it is important to breathe maintaining a constant rhythm. In some cases, the first time you practice this exercise, it may cause a slight feeling of dizziness. This is because the body is hyperventilating because active inhalations are being performed. In this way, more oxygen enters the body than is necessary. In case this happens, it is recommended to stop the practice immediately and lie on your back in the relaxation position. In a hatha yoga session you can start with this exercise of Kapalabhathi followed by the Anuloma viloma, to start the postures or asanas after the muscular warm-up with the greeting to the sun.

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