Skull Cleansing - Kapalabhati

Kapal in Sanskrit means Forehead, and Bhati in Sanskrit means Shining. Kapalabhati is not a pranayama and yet a vital part of the practice.

As the name suggests, it is a cleansing technique in preparation for pranayama.



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  1. Assume a comfortable crossed leg position with back, neck and head in a straight line
  2. Your hands should either be resting on your knees or in either any mudra. All facial muscles should be totally and completely relaxed
  3. Take three deep breaths in the ration of 1:2
  4. Inhale deeply, then exhale forcefully, contracting your abdominal muscles. The air is pushed out of your lungs by contraction of the diaphragm
  5. Ignore the inhalations. They should happen automatically without any effort
  6. Begin with a safe and comfortable tempo of 1 exhalation per second, but maintain a constant rhythm
  7. Starting with one round of 15 exhalations, then gradually increase to 30 or even 60. This is one round
  8. Slowly, increase the number of rounds, taking adequate breaks in between

Do not exercise your throat or chest while doing this. Just your abdomen. To feel your belly pump actively, in the beginning it is better to place a hand on your abdomen. Kapalbhati is a highly energizing abdominal breathing exercise.


Practicing Kapalbhati on a regular basis results in a shining face glowing with inner radiance. Kapalabhati clears the stale and residual air from the entire respiratory system. It purifies the blood and super-saturates the cells with both breath and prana. It also strengthens abdominal muscles, stimulates cellular metabolism and improves the bowel movement. Kapalabhati also strengthens the heart and nervous system. It helps to raise energy to the brain and prepares your mind for meditation.

Kapalabhati should, ideally, be done daily and regularly, particularly after Neti and prior to Pranayama.


Kapalabhati should be avoided in:

  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation
  • Recent surgery
  • Inflammation of the thorax
  • Emphysema
  • Heart trouble
  • Hypertension
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