Pranayama for weight loss? Yes! Why not? Pranayama is the ancient Yogic technique of breath control that improves your overall well-being with the help of various breathing techniques. Combining Pranayama and your daily Yoga routine of different asanas is a great way to assist in healthy weight loss. (LEARN Yoga asanas that are good for weight loss)
The great Hindu sage Patanjali established the concept of Ashtanga, where he explains Pranayama in great detail. (READ more about Ashtanga)
Pranayama is an integral component of Yoga and includes various breathing techniques to rejuvenate your respiratory system. Kapalbhati is a beneficial Pranayama technique that strengthens your lungs, improves blood circulation, and profoundly affects mental health and well-being.
What Is Kapalbhati Pranayama?
Pranayama teaches various methods of breath control, including adjusting the pace of your breathing cycle. Kapalbhati is a rapid breathing technique focusing on exhalation instead of inhalation.
Here is a step-wise guide to practicing Kapalbhati Pranayama:
- Sit cross-legged on the floor with your back straight and your hands resting on your knees or thighs. You may sit on a chair or couch if you cannot sit on the floor.
- Keep your eyes lightly closed and focus all your attention on your breathing.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, followed by a forced and rapid burst of exhalation.
- Do not breathe voluntarily, but allow air to flow naturally inside your lungs again.
- Continue the cycle of involuntary inhalation and forced exhalation in rapid succession. To an observer, you are only exhaling air without inhaling.
- Practice Kapalbhati breathing 15-10 times in one cycle before relaxing for some time. You may resume Kapalbhati after your breathing has returned to normal.
Count up to 10-20 cycles of normal breathing after Kapalbhati Pranayama to allow your heart rate to return to normal. Practice Kapalbhati daily for the best results. You can add Anulom Vilom (CLICK to know more) and Kumbhaka breathing (CLICK to learn more) to your daily Pranayama routine.
How Does Kapalbhati Pranayama Promote Weight Loss?
Kapalbhati Pranayama influences several physiological functions that improve your physical and mental health, which are crucial in maintaining a healthy weight. Let us know how Kapalbhati will help you shed those extra pounds.
- Improves Blood Circulation
Kapalbhati Pranayama increases your oxygen uptake and your heart’s blood pumping capacity. Kapalbhati influences your cardiac system to pump blood faster, which cleans your blood vessels from the inside. Residual fat deposits may dissolve and get metabolized, which significantly reduces your body fat. Kapalbhati also strengthens your heart and blood vessels which is beneficial for burning extra calories.
- Relieves Mental Stress
Kapalbhati rejuvenates tired brain cells by boosting blood circulation to your head. Practicing Kapalbhati may increase blood levels of Serotonin, which is the ‘feel good’ hormone your body produces. Serotonin is known for its calming effects on the mind, which makes you feel happy and relaxed. There is a direct connection between reduced mental stress and subsequent reduction in unhealthy weight. Serotonin may also assist in healthy weight loss by reducing your body’s cravings for fatty foods.
- Promotes Gut Detoxification
Kapalbhati breathing stimulates your abdominal wall and intestinal muscles to function better. Rapid breathing pace during Kapalbhati enhances your gut motility and promotes better peristalsis. The breathing technique is excellent for getting relief from constipation, bloating, and indigestion. Regular practice of Kapalbhati detoxifies your gut and increases absorption of nutrients, which is crucial to attaining your weight goals. (Also, READ our blog on Yoga asanas for gut detoxification)
- Boosts Metabolism
Kapalbhati Pranayama plays a pivotal role in burning belly fat by stimulating abdominal wall muscles. Additionally, Kapalbhati’s collective impact on blood circulation, digestion, and cardiac health positively alters fat metabolism and promotes healthy weight loss.
- Resets Sleep Cycle
We often wrongly associate weight loss with constant activity, rigorous dieting, and running around to burn more calories. However, your body needs adequate rest and a good night’s sleep to initiate and sustain healthy weight loss. Practicing Kapalbhati improves your sleep quality, which rejuvenates your mind and body. A well-rested body responds better to a healthy exercise and diet regimen.
Kapalbhati breathing improves almost all physiological functions and has a beneficial effect on your overall well-being.
Other Health Benefits Of Kapalbhati Pranayama
Pranayama subtly impacts your mind, soul, and body and transforms your well-being. You will notice the positive changes in Kapalbhati after regularly and dedicatedly practicing it. In addition to healthy weight loss, Kapalbhati has the following positive effects on your health.
- Soothes Nervous System
Kapalbhati boosts blood circulation to your brain, which rejuvenates your nervous system. Practicing Kapalbhati is a great way to energize your nerves after a stressful day. Kapalbhati is also an excellent way to relieve anxiety and calm down during panic attacks. (CLICK here and learn more about managing panic attacks)
- Strengthens Mind
Kapalbhati improves your mental strength and reinforces self-confidence due to its beneficial effects on your brain cells and nervous system. Regular practice of Kalapbhati Pranayama declutters your brain and allows you to gather your thoughts. It also has a calming effect on your mind which builds a stronger mental will.
- Nourishes Your Scalp
Kapalbhati’s role in improving blood circulation to your head positively improves your scalp health. Practicing Kapalbhati nourishes your hair follicles and enhances your hair volume and luster. Try Kapalbhati if you are experiencing hair fall or have poor hair quality and volume.
- Improves Liver Functions
Kapalbhati plays a pivotal role in melting belly fat and altering your fat metabolism, which benefits your liver functions. Kapalbhati has an anti-inflammatory effect on your liver cells and prevents the accumulation of toxins within the liver. Improved liver functions, in turn, boost your metabolism, which creates a positive cycle of healthy liver and digestive functions.
Despite the numerous benefits of Kapalbhati, the breathing technique may only be suitable for some. Be cautious of your health while practicing Kapalbhati, and stop it immediately if you experience any discomfort. Avoid the breathing technique if you are pregnant or suffer from cardiac or respiratory anomalies. Kapalbhati is unsuitable for patients with severe hypertension, intestinal ulcers, or bleeding disorders.
Please discuss with your Yoga trainer the benefits and disadvantages of Kapalbhati before learning and practicing it.
We will return soon with a new blog on another beneficial breathing technique known as Ujjayi Pranayama.