Kapalbhati, the go-to pranayama technique and Contraindications


When we talk about Yoga, there is always a mention about Kapalbhati; such has been the relation. People who practice yoga cannot deny this fact at all.  

Kapalbhati comprises or we can say is made from two words ‘kapal’ which means ‘skull’ and ‘bhati’ which means ‘shining’. It is basically a form of pranayama (breathing technique) which intends mainly at cleaning the sinuses but it has some additional and magical curative effects. Pranayama detoxifies all the systems in our body.

Benefits of Kapalbhati

There are several other benefits which we get by practicing Kapalbhati pranayama on a daily basis: 

  • It increases the metabolic rate and helps in weight loss. 
  • Clears the nadis. 
  • It benefits Diabetic patients as it stimulates abdominal organs. 
  • It improves your digestion capacity, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients. 
  • Calms and uplifts the mind. 

These were only some of the benefits of Kapalbhati. But as with all the things lying in the nature, it too has another aspect.  Yoga is very beneficial. However, you always have to be careful with some yoga asanas, and Kapalbhati is one of them. 

Kapalbhati involves abdominal muscles and require you to squeeze them vigorously. It involves deep and rapid breathing as well. 

As a matter of fact, in 2008, the Asian Heart Institute (AHI) in Mumbai linked 31 cases of heart attack to reckless practice of Kapalbhati. 


So, there are some precautions that one must take while practising Kapalbhati: 

  • For beginners, who are aged above 40 years, experts strictly advise them to stick to one exhalation stroke per second. However, if you are below 40 you can try two exhalation strokes in a second. And when you have at least performed it for a year, you can attempt more than two strokes per second. 
  • For those who have just started this practice can even stick 15-20 strokes a minute. 
  • It is very necessary to maintain a routine when you are into practising Kapalbhati. You can’t start performing any time of the day. It is ideal to practice it on an empty stomach, early in the morning. 
  • Many people just watch some tutorials over the internet and start practicing. It is never a good idea. First, get yourself properly checked-up by a doctor and when you get the go-ahead, learn the techniques from a certified yoga expert and then get into practicing it. 
  • For women, who have some extra physical and biological setup, like menstruation and pregnancy, doctors advise them not to practice Kapalbhati. while you are on your periods, your stomach is already stressed, so it is better not to stress it anymore. And for pregnant women, of course, you have someone living inside you may not like the stress. 
  • People with high blood pressure must stick to one stroke per second. 
  • Kapalbhati may aggravate ulcers. So, if you have ulcers, be careful while practicing the technique. Consult your doctor as well as your yoga teacher and check if it is safe for you. 
  • Experts advise People with slip disc not to practice this technique. 
  • And last but not the least, try to start practicing pranayama with other pranayama techniques and when you feel ready, only then start practicing Kapalbhati. 

Taking precautions is always better than striving for a cure. 

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