While many believe that Yoga is solely about physical poses, in reality, it encompasses a wide range of contemplative and self-discipline activities. This includes meditation, chanting, mantra, prayer, and even selfless action. Speaking of Yoga, there are specific asanas that have immense benefits.
Today, we’ll be looking at Kapalbhati pranayama, commonly known as ‘fire breath,’ and understand its benefits. This Kapalbhati pranayama is one of the most common yoga asanas for improving respiratory function and mental health. Let us dive in to learn more!
What is Kapalbhati Pranayama?
Kapalbhati is a unique breathing method that aids in balancing the entire body system correctly. Through the use of forceful breathing, it cleanses the body of its many systems and increases the system’s functioning.
The term ‘kapalbhati’ comes from two Sanskrit words: “Kapal” (skull) and “bhati” (illuminating or gleaming). As a result, Kapalbhati is described as a yoga exercise that leads to the illumination of your skull, or more precisely, your brain. This asana is generally used to detoxify the body and awaken the senses. It also sharpens the mind and enhances one’s personality. Additionally, this asana is also said to release blockages in the sinus passages. Before we get much into detail about the benefits, there are three types of this asana that we all should know. They are,
- Vatakrama Kapalbhati: This is a breathing method in which you inhale slowly and steadily while exhaling quickly and forcefully.
- Vyutkrama Kapalbhati: In this type, you sniff water into your nostrils and then let it out through your mouth in this exercise.
- Sheetkrama Kapalbhati: This practice is the polar opposite of Vyutkrama in that it requires drinking water through the mouth and then exhaling it through the nose.
How to do Kapalbhati Pranayama?
Doing this asana isn’t hard as people always think of Yoga. All you need to do is,
Step 1: Position
Sit in Vajrasana or Sukhasana to execute the Kapalbhati. Remember to keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and neck free of tension.
Step 2: Establish a Breathing Routine
Now softly squeeze on the right nostril while forcefully exhaling from the left. Repeat on the opposite side. The purpose of this procedure is to clear your nostrils. Take a deep breath and start exhaling forcefully while squeezing the stomach now that both nostrils are open. Softly inhale, then exhale completely and forcefully.
Step 3: Repeat
Kapalbhati Pranayama yoga should be practiced 100 times. It’s crucial to remember the kapalbhati precautions and perform 20 slow rounds instead of high blood pressure.
Benefits of Kapalbhati Pranayama
One of the essential Shatkriyas, commonly known as the yogic cleaning of the body, is Kapalbhati pranayama. Kapalbhati yoga significantly improves blood circulation, digestion, metabolism, and more. Following are some of the benefits of this asana which we all should know.
1. Great for Skin
Just as its name, Kapalbhati pranayama will make one’s skin illuminate by cleansing the inner body and bringing outside the beauty that lies within. This happens as kapalbhati pranayama purifies your soul by removing all darkness and allowing it to light through your body. Your skin reflects your pure soul, making you look naturally gorgeous and shining. Furthermore, a sufficient amount of oxygen and fresh air rejuvenates your skin by reuniting you with nature, increasing your beauty.
2. Weight Loss
A 2016 study, carried out in the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), says, “Kapalabhati is considered as a form of abdominal-respiratory-autonomic exercise which stimulates the respiratory, abdominal and gastrointestinal receptors.” This process regulates the endocrine and metabolic processes which, in turn, accelerates fat metabolism. This is possible because as a person inhales and exhales while the abdomen gets dragged backward and comes forward, the weight naturally releases off the belly and the whole body.
3. Aids Blood Circulation
One of Kapalbhati’s benefits is the efficient blood flow to the body’s internal organs. Kapalbhati pranayama works in the body so that it naturally removes toxins when exhaling and infuses fresh oxygen while inhaling, enriching the blood with excellent oxygen. This oxygen-rich blood travels via the veins to all of the body’s organs, guaranteeing proper blood circulation.
4. Helps Digestion
Kapalbhati pranayama boosts immunity naturally, which helps one stay strong against diseases. Speaking of the immune system, this asana is a natural way to get rid of digestion problems. Yes, the digestive system is boosted by Kapalbhati pranayama, which stimulates the digestive organs to perform more efficiently. Kapalbhati naturally cures all digestive problems, including constipation, which could torment many.
5. Helps in Controlling Diabetes
Yoga is generally suggested for fighting diabetes since it might help you control your weight. According to a 2018 study titled ‘Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes,’ the regeneration of pancreatic cells happens due to the inhale/exhale exercise, which stretches the abdomen. This, in turn, reduces weight, and weight is a significant reason for diabetes. And so, it is considered that kapalbhati pranayama does have an effect in controlling diabetes.
6. Improves Mental Health
A healthy mind creates a healthy body, and it is necessary to calm one’s mind away from stress and worry. Kapalbhati pranayama works on your mind, clearing it of toxins and negativity and replacing it with an abundance of freshness and oxygen. If the oxygen in the body isn’t enough, it can cause a headache, mental instability, and such. This, in turn, can be a hindrance to your regular activities. Kapalbhati pranayama calms and activates the brain to cope with hectic schedules. This yoga exercise brightens your mind by regenerating brain cells and activating the neurological system, giving you a real and sharp intelligence.
7. Helps in Healing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a multi-organ disorder that affects the hypothalamus, pituitary glands, ovaries, pancreas, peripheral glucose-sensitive tissues, and skin. This syndrome will affect a woman’s overall body leading to further issues. PCOS symptoms differ from woman to woman, even in terms of the severity they present. Although no study has definitively proven that breathing exercises like kapalbhati can treat PCOS, we can speculate that practicing kapalbhati can assist you to combat the condition. “Since PCOS and MS have a common pathogenic route, it is worthwhile to think that kapalbhati can be beneficial against the features of PCOS as well, albeit there is a shortage of studies and literature in this regard,” says a 2016 research report by IJOY.
Author tip: PCOS is a severe medical condition; thus, this yoga asana is only suggested to be followed as an add-on to a professional doctor’s medications. Relying only on this method to cure PCOS is not advised.
1. Can heart patients do this asana?
While the answer is yes, there is also a precaution attached. Kapalbhati pranayama requires forceful breathing, which can negatively impact a heart patient. Hence, breathing slowly is the only alternative to go for.
2. Does kapalbhati pranayama cure liver diseases?
While kapalbhati pranayama helps in abdomen stretching, weight loss, and other benefits, there isn’t any proven study that this asana actually cures a disease. Speaking of liver diseases, scientists are yet to prove that kapalbhati pranayama can cure it.
Now that we know how Kapalbhati Pranayama has performed and its benefits, it is high time to bring Yoga practice into daily life due to their immense benefits. Just like how kapalbhati pranayama has benefits such as—weight loss, digestion system improvement, glowing skin, better blood circulation, PCOS aidance, and such.
Other yoga asanas also have benefits. Kapalbhat also helps with a good night’s sleep so, practicing it is an excellent choice to go.