10 Feb **ONE MINUTE YOGA – KAPALABHATI**
Kapalabhati is a breathing technique used specifically to promote cleansing. The intake of oxygen makes the blood richer and renews the body tissues, while great quantities of carbon dioxide are eliminated.
Kapalabhati massages the internal organs, stimulates digestion and elimination and removes stale air and toxins from the lungs. It energises the central nervous system and brings mental clarity and alertness. This practice also helps to tone the abdominal muscles that support the internal organs.
Kapalabhati is a purely diaphragmatic breath and consists of alternating short, sharp exhales generated by powerful contractions of the lower belly. This allows air to be pushed out of the lungs. In Kapalabhati inhales are spontaneous and generated as automatic responses to the release of the contraction of the diaphragm, which allows air to be drawn back into the lungs.
Focus on your lower belly. If you are a beginner and find it hard to isolate and contract this area, cup one hand lightly in the other and press them gently against your lower belly. The only part of your body moving is the diaphragm. Your shoulders stay soft.
Quickly contract your lower belly, pushing a burst of air out of your lungs. The belly rebounds to suck air into your lungs.
Pace yourself slowly at first. Repeat 10–12 times. Rest for a few seconds before starting the second group of 10 and repeat 10–12 cycles 2–3 times. As you become more adept at contracting and releasing your lower belly, you can increase the number of rounds.
- Stimulates digestion and activity of the abdominal viscera, so the exercise can be good for constipation
- Cleanses the sinuses and lungs
- Strengthens the diaphragm, intercostal and belly muscles
- Stimulates the brain with a good supply of oxygen
- Enriches the bloodstream and improves circulation
- Clears the mind.
Contraindications and cautions
Always practise on an empty stomach
Make sure you take sufficient pauses to inhale deeply and redress carbon dioxide and oxygen levels
Take extreme caution if you have high blood pressure or vertigo
Don’t do the exercise at all if you suffer from anxiety, epilepsy, hyperventilation, weak lungs, heart trouble or if you are pregnant
Stop immediately if you begin feeling dizzy, irritable, angry or in any way uncomfortable.
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