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Kapalabhati

Kapalabhati is one of the six Kriyas or purification practices besides being a pranayama. The forced exhalation rids the lower lungs of stale air, making way for a fresh intake of oxygen-rich air and cleansing the entire respiratory system. This is a wonderfully invigorating exercise to begin your pranayama. Translated literally its name means "skull shining" exercise and indeed, by increasing the amount of oxygen in the body, its effect is to clear the mind and improve the concentration. It consists of a series of exhalation and inhalations, followed by a retention of breath. To exhale, you contract the abdominal muscles sharply, raising the diaphragm and forcing air out of the lungs; to inhale, you relax the muscles, allowing the lungs to fill with air. The exhalation should be brief, active and audible, the inhalation longer, passive and silent. The repeated up and down movement of the diaphragm tomes the stomach, heart and liver. Begin by practicing three rounds of twenty pumping each and gradually work up to rounds of sixty.

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Take two normal breaths. Inhale. Now exhale. Pulling in your abdomen and inhale, relaxing your abdomen.
Repeat twenty times, keeping a steady rhythm and emphasizing the exhalation each time. Then inhale, exhale completely, inhale fully and hold your breath for as long as you comfortably can. Slowly exhale.
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