Defining frontal brain cleansing (Kapalbhati)
Frontal brain cleansing (Kapalbhati) is an excellent practice that purifies the frontal portion of the brain. Also, it massages the abdominal organs and improves respiration. It is a powerful method of waking up the mind.
The word kapal means “cranium”, “forehead” or “frontal lobe of the brain”. Bhati means “light” or “splendour” and also “perception” or “knowledge”.
Frontal brain cleansing practice
Frontal brain cleansing is one of the best preparatory techniques for meditative practice. It empties the mind of thoughts, emotional feelings and excessive visions. It induces a tranquil, receptive state of mind.
In frontal brain cleansing, the lungs suck air in and out of the body. Since the pranic currents are associated with this flow of air, they can be clearly felt inside the forehead. The currents pulsate in rhythm with the bellowing of the lungs, that is, pranic bellowing occurs in the front of the brain.
It has been said that after 10 rounds of frontal brain cleansing practices it is impossible to sleep. Therefore, if you have a football match to watch late at night and you do not want to fall asleep, then kapalbhati is the answer. Its practice can help you to energize the mind and to remove sleepiness. You can also practise it during the day at work.
According to the Gherand Samhita there are 3 forms of kapalbhati:
- Vatakrama (Air cleansing)
- Vyutkrama (Sinus cleansing)
- Sheetkrama (Mucus cleansing)
Choose any comfortable yoga posture (asana) with the back erect. The best asanas are padmasana (lotus pose), siddhasana (accomplished pose for men), siddha yoni asana (accomplished pose for women), vajrasana (thunderbolt pose) and sukhasana (easy pose).
The full practice of kapalbhati involves the three bandhas (body locks): jalandhara, uddiyana and moola. These are practised together to form mahabandha. Before attempting frontal brain cleansing (kapalbhati) you should master these practices.
Bandha 1: Jalandhara
- Sit in any comfortable pose with the knees on the ground.
- Place the palms of your hands on the knees. Close the eyes. Relax the whole body.
- Inhale deeply. Retain the breath inside the lungs.
- Then bend the head forwards and press the chin tightly against the chest, in particular against the sternum.
- Straighten your arms so as to lock them. Your hands should remain on the knees. This action will tend to intensify the pressure applied in the region of the neck.
- Simultaneously, hunch your shoulders upwards and forwards. By doing so, you will firmly lock your straight arms.
- Stay in the final position for as long as you can comfortably hold your breath.
- Then relax the shoulders. Bend the arms outwards and release the lock. Slowly raise your head.
- Then exhale.
This is 1 round.
Breathe normally. When your breathing rate returns to normal you can repeat another round.
Bandha 2: Uddiyana
- Sit in any meditational asana with the knees flat on the ground.
- Place the palms of the hands flat on the knees.This is important to allow the arms to apply pressure in the final pose.
- Close the eyes. Relax the whole body.
- Exhale as deeply as possible by accentuated contraction of the abdominal muscles and the chest. Try to empty the lungs as much as possible.
- Hold the breath outside.
- Do jalandhara bandha.
- Then try to take a false inhalation. That is, expand the chest as though you are breathing in, but without actually allowing air to enter the lungs.
- This false inhalation will automatically raise the diaphragm and enable the abdomen to become concave in shape as it will raise inwards and upwards.
Bandha 3: Moola bandha
- Sit in a comfortable asana. Place the palms on the knees.
- Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
- Inhale deeply.
- Then hold the breath and practise jalandhara bandha.
- Contract the muscles at the mooladhara chakra region.
- Draw the muscles upwards as much as you are able without excessive strain.
- Keep your attention fixed on the point of contraction. Hold this contraction for as long as possible. Then release the contraction.
- Practise jalandhara bandha.
- Raise the head and breathe out.
This is 1 round.
If necessary, allow the breathing to return to normal. Then do some more rounds. Maintain awareness. Don’t strain.
Vatakrama kapalbhati (Air cleansing)
- Sit in a comfortable meditative pose.
- Close the eyes and relax, keeping the spine erect.
- Place the hands in either jnana or chin mudra.
- The body must be relax and steady (kaya sthairyam).
- Inhale deeply and perform 50 fast respirations through both nostrils placing more emphasis on exhalation. Inhalation should be short.After the last exhalation, inhale deeply through the nose and exhale quickly through the mouth, slightly pursing the lips.
- With breath retention, perform jalandhara , moola, and uddiyana simultaneously.
- Maintain breath retention and the bandhas for as long as possible and count the duration.
- Before inhaling, release moola bandha, uddiyana and jalandhara in this order.
- Inhale slowly through the nose while raising the head. Practice 3 rounds of 50 breaths.
- When you have perfected this practice, you can gradually increase it to 5 rounds. You must set a goal to practise 100 breaths per round within 35 days.
Vyutkrama kapalbhati (Sinus cleansing)
- Get a bowl of warm saline water.
- Lean forward, scoop the water up in the palm of the hand and sniff the water in through the nostrils.
- Let the water flow down into the mouth and then spit the water out from the mouth.
- Practice in this way several times.
Relax while sucking the water in and feel no fear. If there is pain in the nose during the practice, it usually means that the water contains either too little or too much salt.
Sheetkrama kapalbhati (Mucus cleansing)
Sheetkrama is the reverse of vyutkrama.
- Take a mouthful of warm, salty water in the mouth.
- Push it up through the nose and let it flow out of the mouth.
- Make sure to remove all water from the nose.
These practices clear the frontal lobe of the brain by speeding up the blood flow. It also stimulates pranic flow in the same region.
Frontal brain cleansing cleans out the lungs. Also, it improves their elasticity and makes oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange more efficient. Moreover, it also massages and improves the functioning of the digestive organs.
The Gheranda Samhita states that not only do these practices rid the sinuses of old mucus, but they make one attractive and prevent the ageing process from occurring. Kapalbhati helps relax facial muscles and nerves. It rejuvenates tired cells and nerves, keeping the face young, shining and wrinkle-free.
Frontal brain cleaning practices wake up and energize the mind.