Kapalabhati is a cleansing breath that literally translates as "skull that brings lightness." Use it to clear a foggy or heavy head or when you have mucus buildup in your air passages and tension or blockages in your chest. It can also help with sinus issues, such as numbness around the eyes.
During this breathing exercise, the breath is deliberately sped up using only diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing. Each breath is short, rapid and strong as the lungs act as a pump to expel air from the lungs and remove waste from the air passages.
It is important to do this exercise carefully while sitting. If you are pregnant, skip the breath retention step, as holding your breath can harm your baby. This exercise may create tension in the breath and cause dizziness, so always end your practice with some deep, slow breaths.
Begin by breathing normally twice. Inhale, and then exhale while pulling in your diaphragm. Repeat this 20 times, maintaining a steady rhythm and emphasizing the exhale each time. Follow this by inhaling and exhaling completely. Now, inhale and hold your breath for as long as is comfortable (skip this step if you are pregnant). Slowly exhale.
The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga (continued)
- Can reduce nausea, morning sickness and mood swings when performed in conjunction with pranayamas (yogic breathing).
- Can relieve tension around the cervix and birth canal.
- Can help open the pelvis to make labor easier and quicker.
- Promotes deep relaxation through Yoga Nidra (Yogic sleep). This is particularly effective during pregnancy to help relax physically and mentally, as well as to prepare for childbirth.