Pranayama: Kapalbhati | Breathing

There should be rapid breathing to start the practice with emphasis on exhalation. Inhale deeply once. Exhale deeply once. Retain breath during maha bandha. Inhale after releasing maha bandha. Normal breathing if necessary before commencing next round. Breathe through your nose throughout the practice; do not breathe through your mouth.

After completing maha bandha you may find it a little difficult to breathe in. It is as though the lungs become locked. This problem can be overcome by exhaling very slightly immediately before inhalation. Remember, the rapid breathing should be from the abdomen and not from the chest.

Awareness

Fix your attention at chidakasha, the dark space that you will see in front of your eyes. Feel the pranic currents within the chidakasha induced by the bellowing of the lungs. Feel that the whole area of the frontal brain is being purified.

Number of rapid respirations

Beginners should do no more than about 20 rapid respirations in each round. This number can be increased by 5 or 10 respirations per week according to capacity. With practice it is possible to do a few hundred rapid respirations per round, but we suggest that most people eventually aim to do between 60 and 100. There should be no strain throughout the entire process.

Duration of breath retention

Hold your breath for as long as is comfortable while doing maha bandha, no more. The duration can be gradually increased with practice. The benefits will increase with the duration but don’t strain.

Number of rounds

It is possible for a person with a strong and purified body to practise hundreds of rounds lasting hours. For the average person, however, we advise that you practise no more than 10 or 20 rounds. If you want to practise kapalbhati for longer periods, then we strongly suggest that you seek the guidance of an expert. Beginners should start by doing 2 or 3 rounds, increasing by 1 extra round every few days.

Sequence and time

In your daily practice program, practise it immediately before meditative techniques. Otherwise, it can be done at any time during the day except for the period of about four hours after meals. Don’t practise late at night or you might have difficulty going to sleep.

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