Kapalabhati

Skull Shining Breath

Kapala means skull and bhati means luster. Kapalabhati is a forced exhalation practice. The inhale happens involuntarily and there’s a split second of retention after each exhale. This practice is similar to Bhastrika but the focus is on the exhalation only.

  1. Begin with Ujjayi breathing
  2. Exhale completely 
  3. Inhale and then exhale powerfully focusing on the navel center
  4. Continuously exhale at the same length, duration and effort. 
  5. To complete the practice, inhale deeply, hold and engage mula bandha for 5-8 second and exhale slowly and deeply.

Advancing the Practice

Kapalabhati can be advanced the same way as Bhastrika. It can be practiced with both nostrils partially closed. Kapalabhati can also be done through alternate nostrils with or without ujjayi in between rounds. Seal off the left nostril and begin with kapalabhati in the right nostril, end with an exhale and then switch sides. This is one complete round. 

Effects: 

  • Energizes, heats and warms the body
  • Purifies the body by activating the liver, pancreas and spleen
  • Tones abdominal muscles 
  • Clears the sinuses and congestion
  • Improves digestion and elimination
  • Creates a feeling of exhilaration

Notes:

  • Do not force this breath. Start at a slower pace and gradually build it over time. 
  • The exhalation leads the practice and inhale is involuntary so do not focus on the inhale or else you might get distracted and/or lose the pace of the practice.
  • Do not practice during pregnancy or the first three days of moon cycle.
  • It’s contraindicated for high blood pressure, nose bleeds, and eye and ear conditions

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you.
Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.

Krishnamacharya
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