'kapalbhati' is one of the 'shatkarma' which has been mentioned in the 'Gherand Samhita' & 'Hatha Yoga Pradipika'. The literal meaning of 'kapal' is cranium and 'bhati' is light or shining. So kapalbhati means increasing the efficiency of the organs situated in the cranium. So we can say that kapalbhati improves the function of brain. Another name for kapalbhati is 'bhalbhati'.
In processes of kapalbhati exhalation is fast and with jerk while inhalation is slow, passive and without any efforts. Emphasis is given more on the processes of exhalation.
In natural respiration emphasis is on inhalation, it is active and exhalation is passive. In kapalbhati the processes is exactly reversed, giving more importance to exhalation and less importance to inhalation.
About the benefits of kapalbhati it can be said that it helps to clear and purify the mucus, dust, carbon particles from the respiratory tract.
Physiologically during natural respiration the cerebro-spinal-fluid around the brain is compressed and decompressed. This happens 14 times a minute, the natural respiratory rate. In kapalbhati the exhalation is with jerk and inhalation is passive, so the compression? decompression effect is enhanced. Further the process is fast, 120 times a minute which increases the effect. Because of this the brain is being massaged which will improve the blood supply to the brain and increase the function of brain.
The circulatory system is also affected by contraction and relaxation of diaphragm and the abdominal muscles. While exhaling the blood from abdominal region is pushed towards heart. During inhalation the venous return from legs to abdomen increases and in next round same blood is pushed towards the heart. So kapalbhati improves venous return to the heart and helps to improve circulation.
Apart from above mentioned benefits, kapalbhati helps to improve digestion, the function of liver and pancreas. It also increases the strength of abdominal muscle and the diaphragm.
Dr. Prafulla Dorle
Note - Cleansing techniques are to be practiced only under the guidance of Yoga Expert.
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