Active Meditation: Happy Stomach, Shiny Mind
Pranayama is the term used to describe an ancient collection of breathing exercises that can greatly benefit your mind and body.
Kapalabhati Pranayama is a breath work technique that is known to increase mental clarity and energy in minutes. Because of the way the exercise is performed it also activates the deeper abdominal muscles and aids digestion. And of course, all the other benefits of deep breathing are present too, like oxygenating your blood and relieving tension.
Here’s how to try this popular pranayama exercise for yourself:
- Settle into a kneeling position and sit back on your heels. Lift and straighten your spine by drawing your head up towards the sky. Rest the palms of your hands on your knees.
- Now practice breathing in deeply, down into your stomach and push your stomach out slightly, and as you breath out draw your lower abdomen in towards your spine. Practice this for a minute or two as you get used to moving your stomach with your breath.
- Gradually speed up your breath so that you eventually reach the pace of exhaling every second. Regulate your breath so that your energy and focus goes into exhaling and let your incoming breath just happen automatically.
- Once you have practised for a bout a minute and completed 50-60 exhalations, settle your breathing back to normal and take 10 full, slow deep breaths.
- Take a moment to check in with yourself and see how you feel. If you are slightly light-headed you might choose to conclude your session at this point. Take a moment to stretch and settle your breath before standing up and becoming aware of your increased energy and focus.
If you feel inclined to continue, then you can repeat for another cycle of rapid and full exhalations.
After a few days of practice you will become aware of feelings of increased mental energy and focus which is why this exercise is referred to as “shining skull”!
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