On the mat Health

Waiting to inhale?


The air quality index is soaring, and it’s time to take some time out to breathe!


Kapala means skull; bhati means light, which implies perception and knowledge. Kapalabhati is a traditional internal cleansing technique (kriya) for both body and mind. It detoxifies the internal organs by massaging the organs. Do this first thing in the morning.

Kapalabhati consists of alternating short, explosive exhales and slightly longer, passive inhales. Exhales are generated by powerful contractions of the lower belly (between the pubis and navel), which push air out of the lungs. Inhalation is a series of responses to the release of the contraction, which sucks air back into the lungs.

Step 1

Focus on your lower belly. Many beginners aren’t able to isolate and contract this area. If needed, make one hand into a fist with the other cupping it lightly. Press them gently against your lower belly, so you can physically feel it contract.

Step 2

Now, quickly contract (or pump your fisted hands against) your lower belly, pushing a burst of air out of your lungs. Then quickly release the contraction (or your hands), so the belly ‘rebounds’ to suck air into your lungs. Pace yourself slowly at first. Repeat eight to 10 times at about one exhale-inhale cycle every second or two.

Step 3

As you become more adept at contracting-releasing your lower belly, you can increase your pace to about two exhale-inhale cycles every second. Imagine the exhale sweeping out or ‘brightening’ the inner lining of your skull.

Step 4

Do 25 to 30 cycles at first. Gradually increase the number of cycles you do at each practice to 100 or more.


Bhastrika is a Sanskrit word meaning leather bellows. This implement was used in ancient times to increase airflow in furnaces. This pranayama increases the fire in the body. In this type of pranayama, diaphragm movement is used. It is a combination of Kapalabhati and Ujjayi Pranayama. Those who practise these two will find it easy to do the Bhastrika.

The regular practise of this pranayama improves the lung capacity and oxygenates the brain and body. This pranayama helps those suffering from any breathing problems and improves overall body immunity

Step 1

Sit in a comfortable position.

Step 2

Breathe in vigorously but deeply through both the nostrils and then breathe out forcefully through both the nostrils. Do 25 to 30 cycles at first. Gradually increase the number of cycles you do with each practice to 100 or more.


Japa means constant repetition. It is the repetition of a mantra or affirmation to disengage the mind from its thinking process and shift it to the words of the mantra and feel its positive vibrations. By constantly chanting the mantra, our thoughts are cleansed and our body and mind gains positivity. You can say any mantra, in any language, or even create your own, provided it is positive.

Step 1

Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position and focus on the breath.

Step 2

Allow the body to breathe naturally. Now start to chant the mantra or words that you choose, keeping it consistent with your inhalations and exhalations. Repeat the mantra 21 times; relax.

Seema Sondhi discovered yoga when she suffered three lumbar slipped discs and was advised complete bed rest. Over the last 18 years, she has trained and been certified from the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre and Matthew Sweeney. She has also written six books on the subject

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 5:36:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/its-time-to-take-some-time-out-to-breathe/article25425155.ece

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