Shri Ambika Yogashram
Kapalbhati

Instruction

  • While practicing kapalbhati if you feel that one of the nasal passages is fully or partially blocked, lift the blocked nostril by holding it between the thumb and forefinger of your other hand to widen the nasal passage. This should be done at each stage without fail. Even while practicing kapalbhati with both nostrils open, you can lift the blocked nostril if required. This will avoid having to apply extra force.
  • Each nostril is generally in use for 2.5 ghatikas ( i.e. for approximately one hour, as a ghatika comprises of 24 minutes). After this period, it ceases to function and the other nostril becomes active and starts functioning. Therefore, it is essential to lift the inactive nostril during kapalbhati.
  • For some time in the early hours of dawn (brahma muhurta), sushumna nadi becomes active and the function of both suryanadi and chandranadi seem to stop for a while. Yoga sadhana done in this state is most beneficial, but it is extremely difficult to ascertain this time. Therefore it is advised to practice Yoga in the early hours.
  • The breathing should emulate the bellows of an ironsmith. The rate of breathing should be about 2 per second. This may vary a little from person to person. However tendency to breathe too fast or too slow should be consciously avoided.
  • Each cycle consists of breathing out & in (rechaka and puraka). It is easier to count these cycles by counting all the rechakas, i.e. all the exhalations.
  • This kriya should not be practiced by children. All those above the age of 12 can practice. For youngsters, the number of breathing cycles should be limited to about 30-40.
  • Stomach should be pulled in while breathing out (rechaka) and pushed out while breathing in (puraka).
  • If the pace of breathing is too slow, one may feel dizzy. On the other hand, if the pace is too fast, one may not derive the due benefits of kapalbhati. Depending on age, constitution of the body and time available, kapalbhati can be practiced for 2 to 3 times.

Benefit

  • The respiratory system purifies blood by supplying Oxygen and removing Carbon dioxide. However, for fullest respiration the respiratory tract must be clear. This is achieved by the practice of kapalbhati.
  • Cough-related ailments are cured quickly.
  • Sinus-related problems are overcome and cartilage growth in the nasal passage is checked. Naadis (neural passages) in the head are cleansed.
  • Relief in respiratory disorders like asthma, breathlessness, lethargy.
  • Better functioning of the digestive system by eliminating constipation and gases.
  • Synchronized respiration leads to better concentration of mind. Appropriate balance between stomach-breathing and chest-breathing is attained. Helpful for those suffering from heart problems.
  • Diseases related to gall bladder, bilious disorders etc. are cured.
  • Reduction in the fatty layer over the stomach.
  • In diseases like pneumonia, partial collapse of lungs results into insufficient oxygen supply. Such disorders are eliminated.
  • Practice of kapalbhati is a very useful preparatory step before learning pranayama.

Procedure

Sit in padmasana (Lotus posture). Keep spine erect. Start with poorna rechaka, i.e. breathe out all the air. Do half puraka (breathe in only about half the air as compared to normal inhale) and continue to breathe out – breathe in – breathe out rhythmically at a medium pace with slight force so that the sound of breathing air in and out is of equal extent. Stop with a rechaka (breathing out) and wait without breathing in for few seconds (bahya kumbhaka) as long as you can. In the beginning, one can stay without breathing (bahya kumbhaka) only for 5-10 seconds. With practice the time for bahya kumbhaka can easily be increased to 30 seconds. After this, take in a long deep breath, hold the breath for 3-4 seconds (antar kumbhaka) and release the breath in a slow, uniform and long drawn-out manner akin to the flow of oil out of a container.

In the beginning, do 25-30 breathing cycles depending upon own capacity. Increase the number of breaths slowly with practice, till you can go up to 108 breaths at a stretch. Do not increase beyond 108, although you may have the capacity to do so.

After a week’s practice, you will be all set for performing kapalbhati with right and left nostril separately. The step-by-step procedure for this is as follows:

  • Breathe out all the air through both nostrils (poorna rechaka).
  • Breathe in through both nostrils only about half the air as compared to normal inhaling (ardha puraka).
  • Block left nostril (chandra nadi) using left thumb.
  • Perform kapalbhati breathing only through right nostril. Practice and increase the number of breathing cycles up to 54. Do not go beyond 54 breathing cycles, even if you can do so.
  • Stop after the 54th rechaka (breathing out). Bring down left hand back on knees. Stay without breathing in for a few seconds. (bahya kumbhaka).
  • Take in a long and deep breath through both nostrils (puraka). Hold the breath for a short while (antar kumbhaka) and release the breath in a long drawn-out manner (rechaka).
  • Continue normal breathing for about 20 seconds. Repeat the above procedure, this time closing right nostril (surya nadi) and breathing through left nostril (chandra nadi). Do thrice by alternately closing left and right nostrils.
Ujjayi

Instruction

  • Those suffering from common cold, dust and other allergies should repeat for 10 cycles, for others 5-6 cycles are sufficient.
  • In cold season, increase the number of cycles to 10, as the heat generated by friction is helpful in faster expectoration of cough.

Benefits

Madhya Ujjayi

  • Chest is pushed forward while stomach remains in the same position. This helps in curing most of the diseases of lungs like Pneumonia, tuberculosis as also the diseases of spleen. A better balance between chest breathing and abdominal breathing is achieved.
  • In women chest breathing is inherently lesser than stomach breathing. This balance is maintained.
  • Problems related to genital organs are eliminated.
  • Expectoration of cough becomes faster.

Urdhva Ujjayi

  • Very useful in cold regions and cold climate.
  • Helps in effective utilization of breathing capability of chest and stomach.
  • Cures diseases like sinusitis, migraine, headache etc.
  • Expectoration of cough becomes faster.

General benefits

  • Clears throat and breathing pathways. Cures sore throat and cough.
  • Very effective on sinusitis - removes cough from various sinus cavities.
  • In Ayurveda, the throat is called as saptapatha (junction of seven pathways). Ujjayi cleanses these pathways, strengthens vocal cord and helps in improving voice.
  • Increases capacity of lungs thereby increasing the oxygen supply to blood. Very effective in curing asthma, bronchitis etc.
  • Improves digestion and excretion functions. Overall, helps in internal cleansing of the body.
  • This is a boon for those suffering from heart disease. It reduces cholesterol and helps in avoiding expensive surgical procedures like bypass.
  • Helpful in curing pains of joints, paralysis etc.
  • Removes problems like palpitation, hypertension etc.
  • Breathing, the central function of the body is well controlled and this helps all the bodily functions including blood circulation.
  • Reinvigorates and rejuvenates entire body.

Procedure

Ujjayi is a technique of deep breathing while applying friction in the throat as we breathe in and out. While breathing in (puraka), imagine that the air is being drawn up from navel to throat with vibratory friction in the throat. While breathing out (rechaka) again with friction in the throat, the air goes back from throat to the navel. This vibratory friction creates a sound similar to snoring. To begin with, one should practice only making the snoring like sound. After getting used to the vibratory friction in throat one should attempt to reduce the sound to a minimum. After some practice, one will achieve a good control over breathing in and out with vibratory friction in the throat. Time taken for Rechaka being longer than Puraka is the sign of mastering the technique of Ujjayi.

Breathing pattern varies with age, sex, habits, fitness and occupation. For example, breathing in and out from chest or stomach or a mixture of both is possible. Considering these variations in breathing patterns, Guruji used to recommend different types of Ujjayi. These are given below :

Madhya Ujjayi

Keep hands on the waist. Pull shoulders back and push the chest forward. Breathe in with vibratory friction in the throat, trying to expand the chest at the same time (imagine the ribcage being filled with air). After holding the breath for a short while, release it again with vibratory friction.

Madhya Ujjayi

Keep hands on the waist. Pull shoulders back and push the chest forward. Breathe in with vibratory friction in the throat, trying to expand the chest at the same time (imagine the ribcage being filled with air). After holding the breath for a short while, release it again with vibratory friction.

Urdhva Ujjayi

Fold hands on the chest. While breathing in with vibratory friction, lift folded hands above head and stretch them upwards. While breathing out with vibratory friction bring hands back on the chest. Try to co-ordinate the up and down movement of hands with breathing in and out respectively.

Bhashra Ujjayi

Begin with the Ujjayi breathing and increase the pace of breathing gradually, till it reaches the speed of kapalbhati (but with friction in the throat while breathing in and out). Try to increase the number of breathing cycles to 30. After the last rechaka (breathing out), stay as long as possible without breathing in (i.e. bahya kumbhaka) then take a deep breath (puraka) with friction. After 4-5 seconds, breathe out slowly with friction. If needed repeat the practice for two more cycles. This kriya need not be done by everybody every day. Those suffering from asthma, bronchitis, etc. should do it regularly. Others may do it only in cold season. Practicing too often will surely lead to excessive generation of heat.

A major benefit of all these breathing exercises is that the dormant parts of lungs which were so far not participating in breathing process become active. Therefore, the bronchi in the lungs are cleared and breathing capacity increases. On the whole the respiratory system is strengthened.

These breathing techniques which help in cleansing of the whole body are extremely useful, particularly in this age of pollution. Their practice is an essential preparatory exercise before the advanced study of pranayama. Those who have done little or no exercise in life often have the problem of blocked airways. All the above types of Ujjayi are very useful for such people. These simple techniques can clear the blocked airways which were underutilized due to lack of exercises of whatsoever nature.

Uddiyan bandh

Instruction

  • Those suffering from tuberculosis, peptic ulcers or any other ailments related to abdomenl should seek expert guidance before practicing.

Benefits

Hathayoga Pradipika mentions many benefits of Uddiyan bandh, especially pertaining to spiritual aspects like awakening of kundalini power and so on. There are some claims which may appear exaggerated today. e.g. Uddiyan bandh enables the Yogi to conquer death. We shall limit ourselves to the health-related benefits of Uddiyan bandh.

  • Improves appetite, improves digestion. Removes toxins from stomach and cleanses intestines.
  • Impure blood from the region below the waist is pulled upwards at a faster pace towards kidneys. This helps in faster purification of blood.
  • Problems related to genital organs are eliminated.
  • Fats, especially from the area around stomach are reduced, helping the aspirant to be more enthusiastic and energetic.
  • Functioning of nerves related to heart is improved.This is the only process that can actually offer exercise (akin massage) to the heart.
  • It is rejuvenating. Even old people experience the energy of youth.
  • Diseases of urinary bladder and kidneys are cured.
  • Enlargement of prostate glands is brought under control.
  • Helps in controlling diabetes.
  • Improves strength and functioning of diaphragm.
  • Prevents & helps in curing uterine, urethral and anal prolapse.

Procedure

Before learning Uddiyan bandha, it is necessary to know about three important bandhas i.e. constrictions.

Moolbandh

It is said in Hatha Yoga Pradeepika that moolbandha brings together the air principle of prana and apana, eliminates the accumulated excreta and urine and those who practice moolbandha can experience youth even at old age.

Moolbandha involves pulling the anal muscles inwards (tightening or contracting) and remaining in that position. This constricts or closes the two pathways, anus and urinary tract. In Hathayoga, moolbandha is to be essentially applied while practicing all breathing techniques and pranayama. Practicing the techniques of pranayama without moolbandha does not yield full benefits. In the beginning, conscious effort is required to maintain Moolbandha. However, with practice it is possible to maintain moolbandha for a long time without much effort. Moolbandha helps in strengthening muscles in the anal and genital areas.

Jalandhar bandh

Jalandhar bandh is tightening or contracting the muscles in the throat & neck region and locking the chin at the throat. This closes the seven pathways in the throat region and helps in removing ailments of vocal cords and throat infections. The Jalandhar bandha is very important in the practice of pranayama.

Uddiyan bandha

Uddiyan bandha is pulling the stomach inwards to so much extent that the navel is contracted inwards towards the spine.

Procedure

Hands should be kept in the same position as in Agnisar. (Pl. see picture). Apply moolbandha (tighten anal muscles). Exhale completely and pull the stomach in, backwards and upwards as much as possible. Apply Jalandhar bandh (i.e. firmly touch the chin at the throat). Stay as long as possible without breathing in. Just before you start feeling out of breath, release the stomach muscles, relax Jalandhar bandh. After straightening the neck, inhale slowly and deeply (puraka) and exhale slowly (rechaka). Do not release or relax Moolbandha till the last step. After brief interval, repeat twice.

What happens inside the body during Uddiyan bandh?

Even after exhaling fully, some air remains in the stomach. In Uddiyan bandh, this remaining air is trapped inside the abdominal cavity and made to circulate through it. This helps in cleansing the entire stomach. This air then enters the bowels and effectively displaces the accumulated waste and excreta. This helps in completely emptying the bowels. All the neural passages in the pelvic area (Swadhisthan chakra) are cleansed. Most of the diseases have their origin in the stomach and abdominal areas. Big tummies, which have become a common disease now, pose a threat to the social health. It is one of the major hurdles in attaining good health. Obesity causes lethargy which hinders progress. Uddiyan bandh helps in controlling the enemy in disguise of excessive fats.

Important !

The details given in this section is only for knowledge purpose and not for practical usage. These kriyas have to be carried out under the guidance of specialized trainer. Shri Ambika Yogashram is not liable to any damage due to practice of these kiryas.

However we suggest to contact Shri Ambika Yogashram to learn these kriyas in details and under supervision