Want to lose some weight and sharpen your intellect at the same time? Kapalbhati pranayama does both and much more! Read to learn how to practice.
Kapalbhati Pranayama—(kah-pah-luh-BAH-tee prah-nah-yah-muh) — is a yogic breathing technique. It consists of short, powerful exhales and gentle inhales. This breathing technique internally tones and cleanses the respiratory system of toxins. At the same time, it purifies, rejuvenates, and refreshes the body and mind.
This is one of the six cleansing techniques (Shatkarmas) of yoga, as mentioned in the classic text—Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Since it involves breathing, some yoga practitioners classify this technique as a too.
“80 percent of the toxins in our body are released through the outgoing breath. Regular practice of Kapalbhati pranayama detoxifies all the systems in our body.” - Sejal Shah, E-RYT 500, YACEP, Sri Sri Yoga teacher
Kapalbhati sharpens your intellect and brings out your natural glow. It is also known as skull shining breath. As you practice, you can imagine the inside of your skull being filled with light.
Always practice this technique on an empty stomach.
How to practice the Kapalbhati breathing technique
1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Place your hands on your knees, palms facing the sky.
You may choose to sit:
Cross-legged on the floor
On a chair with feet flat on the floor
In Vajrasana pose (sitting on your heels with knees bent and shins tucked beneath the thighs)
2. Take a deep breath in.
3. As you exhale, contract your lower belly, and force the breath out in a short burst.
Tip: You may keep one hand on your stomach to feel your abdominal muscles contract.
4. Quickly release your abdomen. Allow your breath to flow into your lungs automatically.
5. Take 20 breaths in this way to complete one round of Kapalbhati pranayama.
6. After completing one round, relax with your eyes closed. Observe the sensations in your body.
7. Do two more rounds to complete your practice.
Note: The exhalation in Kapalbhati is active and forceful through both the nostrils. Don't focus too much on the passive inhalation. The moment you relax your abdominal muscles, inhalation will happen naturally. Just keep your awareness on breathing out.
Here's a video demonstrating the correct manner of practicing Kapalbhati.
Kapalbhati Pranayama, Weight Loss Breathing
Benefits of Kapalbhati pranayama
Clears the (subtle energy channels), sinuses, lungs, and respiratory system of allergens
Invigorates and warms the body
Increases metabolic rate and helps you lose weight
Improves digestive issues and nutrient absorption
Improves blood circulation
Calms and uplifts the mind
Sharpens the intellect
Brings more oxygen into the body, which energizes the nervous system and rejuvenates brain cells
Tones the abdominals
Kapalbhati yoga is an advanced technique. You should be comfortable with other basic breathing exercises, like 3-stage breathing and bellows breath, as taught in Art of Living’s course.
Women who are pregnant, menstruating, or recently postpartum should avoid practicing Kapalbhati pranayama.
People who are on an artificial pacemaker should avoid practicing this breathing technique. Those who have had recent abdominal surgery, or who are suffering from epilepsy or hernia, should also avoid it.
People with high blood pressure, heart conditions, asthma, emphysema, or any other lung or respiratory condition should use caution when practicing Kapalbhati pranayama. Please seek the guidance of a professional yoga teacher.
We hope you enjoy the benefits of this advanced practice, Kapalbhati pranayama!
Take your asana practice to a next level
When you follow up your asana practice with powerful breathing exercises and meditation, you will add many new benefits to your practice. Join a free online session with a live instructor, and experience a guided breathing technique and meditation today. You will also learn about which has helped millions of people worldwide to reap the benefits of yogic breathing, and take their yoga practice to the next level.
SKY Breath Meditation also helps with decreasing stress and anxiety, and increasing deep sleep and overall life satisfaction!
Are you ready to go to the next level?