This breathing exercise is also called fire breathing because it is very activating the strength, warmth and energy of the lower abdomen.
You prefer to learn this exercise under the guidance of a teacher. The effort, rhythm and proper movement of the abdomen are more subtle than you think. Activating the Bandhas is part of the Hatha Yoga exercises.
When we do Kapalabhati we isolate different muscle groups. The chest remains passive. The main action and movement comes from the abdomen making a rhythmic and powerful pull-in movement.
You only hear the exhalation when the abdomen is pulled in. The inhalation is passive and silent and comes naturally after each exhalation.
During this exercise we activate Mula Bandha, the lock in the pelvic floor. After the exercise we hold our breath, this is called Kumbhaka, so we restore the carbon dioxide and oxygen balance in the body. In doing so, we activate Uddiyana Bandha, the lock of the diaphragm, and at the same time the chin lock, Jalandhara Bandha.
Prepare, blow a fly off your nose
– To learn the retraction movement of the abdomen, check with yourself if the belly goes backwards if you pretend to blow a fly off your nose.
– You exhale, and your belly button goes backwards, this is an active retraction movement of the abdomen.
– The abdomen makes an absorbent movement and the breath in the chest is passive. Do this a few times.
– Notice that you can activate the pelvic floor muscles.
It may take a while to master this Kapalabhati. It feels uncomfortable if you do this too forcefully, so start very softly. This exercise is more subtle than you think. Always do this exercise on an empty stomach (and preferably before breakfast).
1. Watch the pace
– First exhale a few times, notice that the breath relaxes and flows in and out.
– If you breathe out half after an inhalation, you can fall into the rhythm during Kapalabhati
– On the video you hear that breathing goes in a certain rhythm.
– Follow this rhythm and don't do it too fast.
Kumbakha empty is harder than full. Practice with a Kumbhaka first when you are full:
– After 20 Kapalabhati's you exhale completely through the nose,
– Breathe all the way through the nose and do not exhale, make a chin lock as demonstrated on the video,
– Hold the breath as long as it feels comfortable, maybe a little longer,
– If you exhale, lift your chin first, then exhale through the nose.
– Gradually you can expand the number of Kapalabhati's, so extend the Kumbhaka.
3. After the exercise, very important: wait and observe the effect on the breath, the body, the consciousness.
4. Do two or three of the above rounds.
Do's & Don'ts
DO NOT do this exercise during your period.
DO NOT do this exercise if you have high blood pressure, if you have a hernia, suffer from dizziness, etc.
DO NOT do this exercise in the water. ALSO NOT right before you go swimming. NEVER do Pranayama exercises when you participate in traffic.