Kapalbhati is a part of Kriya Pranayam where one forcefully exhales rapidly in short bursts. Practitioners claim that it helps in cleaning lungs and in exercising the abdominal muscles, an ideal way to reduce tummy fat.
The word ‘Kapalbhati’ means skull illumination. Yogis claim that the practice cleanses one’s mind and boosts a person’s appearance, also vouched for by modern science.
Researchers since 1941 have known that nanoparticles (10-30 nanometers; almost10-20 times smaller than those emitted in cigarette smoke), can directly reach the brain by breathing through the nose, bypassing the blood-brain-barrier (BBB).
However, this field of research remained dormant till the 1990s when scientists, alarmed by the rising environmental pollution, revisited early research to discover the harmful effects to the brain due to breathing toxins.
Today, research shows that the a part of the polluted air we breathe through our nostrils goes directly to the brain via the olfactory lobes (area responsible for sense of smell) and the rest goes to the lungs, supplying necessary oxygen to the blood.
While medical researchers show that pollutants are flushed most of the times by the immune system, the toxic particles in the brain go accumulate.
This has alarming implications for modern living, as the inhaled pollution from household and automobile smoke, dust and general industrial environment has the ability to directly affect the nervous system.
Statistics of increased cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease rates have been attributed partly to the invasion of toxins in the brain.
There are, however, indications that some of these small particles can be flushed out by the cerebrospinal fluid which floods the brain. During episodes of dreams, this flushing mechanism is highly active.
Since these small particles enter the brain through the olfactory lobe, they can be flushed out by the forceful exhalation in Kapalbhati. This follows the principle of equivalence.
The forceful exhalation creates a venturi effect in the nasal passage, thereby creating a partial vacuum, sucking these particles out of the olfactory lobes. Natural designs are very efficient and take into account all paths and forces. Thus the forceful exhalation not only exercises the abdominal muscles, but also cleans the lungs and brain.
For people living in a polluted atmosphere, a good strategy would be to wear a nose mask to filter pollutants during outdoor activities and practice Kapalbhati daily to remove the particles which inadvertently might have gone into the system.