We deliver this final blog post to you in a sombre tone, with slightly reddened eyes and a wobbly lower lip, as it’s our final blog in the Bikram series. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Bikram yoga, and have been inspired to try it as a beneficial cross-training activity to complement your running.
Technically Kapalbhati breathing is not one of the 26 postures, but is a breathing exercise. Breath control is one of the most essential parts of yoga and running. Conquering control of your breathing enables quicker recovery during intermittent work like speed sessions and hills.
Kapalbhati Breathing: Step by Step
1. Kneel down (or if uncomfortable for you, sit cross-legged or with your legs out straight), with your spine very straight, arms extended with your palms resting on the tops of your knees.
2. Relax your shoulders and inhale. Blow out through the mouth through the lips, in a short, sharp fashion. Imagine you are blowing out birthday candles a foot away from you.
3. Concentrate on the exhalation only, and the inhale will happen automatically (we promise).
4. With each exhalation, pull your stomach in firmly then immediately relax the stomach and repeat.
Kapalbhati Breathing: The Benefits
“Firstly, don’t get discouraged if this breathing exercise does not come naturally to you,” says Olga Allon, director of Hot Bikram Yoga in London (hotbikramyoga.co.uk). “Keep practicing and it will get easier.”
“Kapalbhati breathing helps improve elasticity of the lungs and increase circulation to the respiratory system. Those suffering with shortness of breath or asthma may find that this breathing exercise helps improve symptoms. The forced exhale strengthens and tones the abdomen, and may help improve the function of your digestive system.”
“It is also important to spend a moment at the end of class focusing on your breath to help keep your mind quiet. Listen to the exhale and allow each exhalation to eliminate any stress, tension, negative or unhelpful thoughts or feelings.”
Yes, we’ve gone all spiritual on you. Don’t fight it. Come on, bring it in. Group hug. You’ve successfully improved your running performance by getting bitten by the yoga bug.
Bikram specialist Olga Allon teaches at London's Hot Bikram Yoga.