Kapalabhati Pranayama, which translates literally to 'skull shining breath', is a technique used in yoga to purify and energize the mind for meditation or mental work. It removes sleepiness from your mind, balances your nervous system and tones your digestive system. Kapalabhati is best practiced after asana (yoga poses), before meditation, or any time your mind needs refreshed.
Sit tall and relaxed with your ears, shoulders and hips stacked. Close your eyes gently and take a deep inhale through your nose, expanding your abdomen. Exhale through your nose with a forceful contraction of your abdomen, like blowing your nose. Allow the following inhalations to happen passively, expanding your abdominal muscles. Focus your attention on rapidly snapping your navel to your spine with each exhalation.
Begin with 10 rounds at your pace. As you progress, increase your speed until your abdominals can support up to 5 rounds of 15-20 rapid breaths. If dizziness occurs, sit quietly until it passes and try again with less force and more awareness. Kapalabhati is not advised for those suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure, vertigo, hernia or women who are pregnant.
A Space of Your Own
I often hear students repeat the same story: I tried to meditate at home. It lasted a few days and then I stopped.
Welcome to the club! Let's consider this part of the initiation process, shall we?
So, how do you make it stick? First, know why you're doing it. Be clear on your motivation and what you hope to gain from a consistent meditation practice. Consider how you would like to feel, think, speak and act each day.
Then make a plan. I notice I'm most consistent when I stick to RPM: Rise, Pee, Meditate. Get it done first thing in the morning before distractions take over the day. However, if your schedule is irregular or mornings are just too hectic, choose a time of day- preferably the same time each day- and set a reminder in your phone.
Lastly, create a space that you want to sit in. Having a sacred space reserved for meditation isn't necessary but it makes your meditation feel special and enhances your ability to shift from the busyness of life into the stillness of meditation. Your space can be as simple as a cushion on the floor in the corner of your bedroom.
Keep in mind the yogis meditate in a cave in the mountainside, so don't get hung up on the details! Does your home have a quiet nook, a large closet or a corner with a nice view? Consider the privacy, views and weather conditions (if you're outside). Opt for simplicity and comfort, and you'll enjoy returning to your cushion each day.
Accessories are not required but can enhance your comfort and experience. Here are some ideas to inspire your sacred yoga or meditation space:
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