Looking to shed pounds with the soothing movements of kapalbhati yoga? If you are trying to lose weight using this breathing technique -- well, do not hold your breath. Kapalbhati does not include any poses but instead involves controlling your body as you inhale and exhale. Performed in a kneeling or seated position, kapalbhati practitioners breathe in and out through the mouth in short, forced bursts. The stomach is contracted while exhaling and relaxed while exhaling.
As complicated as it may seem, weight loss mainly boils down to calories in vs. calories out. Burning 3,500 more calories than you consume leads to a pound of fat loss. Kapalbhati breathing exercises do not burn too many more calories than sitting idly, so there is no tangible benefit in this area. This does not mean you should dump the kapalbhati -- simply incorporate other fat-loss techniques into your lifestyle as well.
Here is where kapalbhati can help. The meditative effect of controlled breathing reduces stress, which can lead to a trimmer waistline. Under stress, your body releases chemicals that contribute to weight gain, particularly in your midsection. You have a once-useful mechanism that causes your body to prepare for starvation in times of anxiety, resulting in extra fat. Breathing techniques like kapalbhati can help stop the damage by easing your mind. Meditative activity also raises levels of serotonin, a feel-good hormone, possibly reducing your cravings for fattening comfort foods.
It may not shred calories, but kapalbhati can help you better perform exercises that do. Breathing control is also important for runners, and proper respiration techniques may speed up recovery time between intense intervals throughout your workout routine. In an interview with Runner's World, Olga Allon, director of London's Hot Bikram Yoga, claimed that kapalbhati increases lung function and possibly helps people with asthma or other breathing problems. She also stated that the technique helps dismiss negative thoughts for improved quality of life.
So if kapalbhati doesn't do much to slim you down, how do you lose weight successfully? The answer lies in your diet, according to the Mayo Clinic, which recommends dropping down to 1,200 calories per day and choosing foods rich in nutrients instead of fat and sugar. Although you can lose weight eating any food under the sun, as long as you stick to calorie requirements, you will be far healthier filling your plate with a variety of whole plant foods along with lean proteins such as chickpeas and tuna.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.