A word of caution: Though the practice advised in this article is safe and time tested for general audience, it's important that you consult your physician before adopting a routine, especially if you are already suffering from heart/lung ailments.
Kapaal Bhaati literally means --a practice which makes your skull glow. It is not what it has generally taken to be. It is not a practice which makes your skin glow. No it’s not. It is a cleansing process. It makes your skull glow in the sense that your head starts shining with illumination and wisdom after prolonged practice. It’s not a Pranayama either. It’s generally considered to be Pranayama these days because of the widespread ignorance about the Patanjali yogic system.
Kapaal stands for skull or forehead and Bhaati stands for glow or shining. Kapaal Bhaati is one of the six cleansing processes which are practiced before Pranayama in Patanjali’s system. These cleansing processes make your body and mind suitable for further practice of Pranayama and Meditation. Unless the subtle pathways for psychic energy called nadis are cleansed at first, it’s slightly difficult to practice Pranayama and Meditation. It does not mean though that it is mandatory to follow the cleansing process. It has been my personal experience that Pranayama and Meditation when practiced extensively, cleanse the subtle psychic pathways on their own. It’s just to aid this cleansing and to make process quicker, easier and smoother that these special cleansing techniques are recommended before one begins to practice Pranayama and Meditation.
Kapaal Bhaati is easiest, most effective and least harmful of all cleansing techniques. You do not have to use any chords or liquids unlike other techniques to cleanse your system. All you have to do is to exhale out carefully. Your entire attention goes to exhalation whereas inhalation takes place on its own. As you exhale your stomach contracts and your belly region goes in. This process cleanses your body and mind by purging out toxins through breath and skin excretions.
Kapaal Bhaati has a very important and mostly ignored psychological side to it. When you exhale and concentrate on doing so, you’re letting-go. The fear is associated with breathing patterns like many other emotions. Inhalation is symbolically fear of death. The accumulation of wealth is also related to fear of depravity. Trying to hold your relatives and becoming possessive of them is also because of fear of loneliness. When you concentrate on exhalation and only on exhalation, what you’re actually trying to do is—to let-go of fears and unnecessary attachments. Diseases are mostly accumulation of toxins. To take an example: Obesity is accumulation of fat, which is, accumulation of extra energy. Why does body store extra energy? It does so because of the fear that it might run low on energy in future. Similarly you may think through many aspects of life. What Kapaal Bhaati does is unique. It makes you free from fear, diseases, attachments and increases health, courage and freedom by developing a totally different psyche in you.
Like any other breathing practice, more consciously you exhale; better will be the results of practice. Mechanically exhaling will indeed increase the oxygen content of your blood, which has its own advantages, but, the more subtle advantages can be obtained only if you practice it consciously.
video source: YouTube
video source: YouTube