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Kapalabhati with Breath Retention and Bandhas (locks)

In some of the earlier posts, I have talked about Kumbhaka (breath retention) and the Bandhas (energy locks) as a part of the common pranayama practices. In a recent post, I introduced the practice of kumbhaka and bandhas in the Naadi Shuddhi (alternate nostril breathing) technique. In today’s post I would like to introduce kumbhaka and bandhas as an extension of the Kapalabhati practice.

Kumbhaka and bandhas are applied at the end of each round of Kapalabhati (KB). As I mentioned in my earlier post, I recommend three rounds of KB, each round consisting of about 100-120 breath expulsions (or a number that you are comfortable with), with a short period of rest between rounds.

As a cautionary note I would like to emphasize here that these advanced practices involving kumbhaka and bandhas should be learned under the guidance of a qualified teacher. In general, you should practice the basic techniques of pranayama without kumbhaka and bandhas for at least six to eight weeks on a regular basis before attempting these advanced techniques.

Step-by-step

  1. When you finish the round of KB, take a gentle inhalation and then expel all the air out of the lungs.
  2. While retaining the breath out in Bahya kumbhaka (external breath retention), try to apply all three bandhas – Mula Bandha (root lock), Uddiyana Bandha (navel lock) and Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock), also known as Maha Bandha (great lock). Maintain the locks for a comfortable duration.Alternate nostril breath
  3. When you have the urge to inhale, release all the three locks. Using the Vishnu Mudra with the right hand (see picture to the right), close the left nostril with the ring finger and begin a deep, soft and smooth inhalation through the right nostril using the Ujjayi breathing technique.
  4. At the end of inhalation, close both the nostrils using the thumb and the ring finger and apply both Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock) and the Mula Bandha (root lock).
  5. Hold the bandhas for a duration that is comfortable. When you have the urge to exhale, release the bandhas and, closing the right nostril with the thumb, exhale through the left nostril.
  6. This completes one cycle of KB. After a brief period of rest, repeat the same technique for the next two rounds of KB.

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