Jan 31, 2009

Pranayama > kapal bhati > V: some more questions answered

A reputed book on kapal bhati says, it is not a pranayama.
Strictly speaking, kapal bhati is one of the six cleansing exercises called shatkarma [see yoga terms I], used for cleaning the frontal brain and breath passage. However, you can take it as a pranayama as it is an exercise of breath, if you are not a puritan.
In any case, not many yoga practitioners are master yogis doing yoga according to its tenets. What matters is that you do it and get benefited by it.

What is the correct meaning of the word kapal bhati?
Kapal means skull or forehead; bhati means shine . So, kapal bhati would literally mean imparting glow to the head. According to ancient yoga text, kapal bhati is a cleansing process rather than a pranayama; in that context, and considering that kapal bhati is meant to remove ‘kapha’ problems, imparting glow to the skull perhaps means cleansing the frontal brain and unblocking of flow of fluids associated with it. [I have given some more explanation of kapha in the question on benefits of kapal bhati below.]
In modern parlance you can call it ‘blow for glow’ [sms: blo4glo !].

What are the benefits of kapal bhati? Is there a good enough proof of the benefits or these are mere hearsay?

I advise you to take with a pinch of salt the hundred benefits of specific asanas, pranayamas or other offbeat and alternative medicine systems that people dish out. In many cases such claims are made to lighten pockets of gullible folks, but these could also be well-intentioned hearsay which often leads to exaggeration and does no good to the basic cause.

Having said that, let me repeat that kapal bhati is one of the most beneficial and yet very simple yogic procedures. Besides its obvious beneficial effect on the abdominal and thoracic muscles, organs, glands, nerves, vessels, lymph etc, it has great healing powers experienced by regular practitioners. Don’t know how, but these procedures somehow balance the juices and energies in the body, regenerate aging tissues, stop degenerative processes – thus healing the system and right-pacing it. I know of dozens of patients of chronic ailments who got rid of their ailments with a simple regimen of yogic asanas and pranayamas [done regularly and correctly, to be sure].
According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, the body is healthy only when there is balance between three metabolism types called vata, pitta and kapha. Kapha imbalance is generally displayed by one’s tendency to gain weight, lethargy and fatigue, and lazy digestion. Kapal bhati is found to be very effective in correcting kapha imbalance.
For those who insist on knowing specific benefits of kapal bhati, Baba Ramdev lists the following benefits of kapal bhati: bringing about glow to the face; and curing obesity, constipation, gastric disturbances, acidity, croesus in liver, hepatitis B, diabetes, stomach and uterus problems, cholesterol related problems, allergic problems, asthma, snoring, lack of concentration, and even cancer and AIDS.