Kapalbhati - 10 Minute Breathing For Longer Living

Submitted by Jerry Parker on September 12, 2012

Kapalbhati is derived from the Sanskrit work ‘kapal’ meaning forehead and ‘bhati’ meaning light. The practice of Kapalbhati breathing appears in ancient yoga texts where this slow breathing exercise is used to illuminate the mind and cleanse the different areas of the brain.


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The beauty of Kapalbhati breathing is that everyone can practice it – adults, children, as also the infirmed – there are no restrictions. You can practice Kapalbhati following these steps:

  • Sit in Padmasana or Lotus Pose and keep your spine straight and lengthened.
  • Place your hands in Gyan Mudra where the tips of your thumb and index finger touch each other and your wrists lie on the knees.

  • Keep your ribcage and lungs still, relax your stomach muscles and exhale strongly. The exhalation should happen with the contraction of the stomach muscles almost as if you were sucking in your stomach.
  • Breathing out through both your nostrils.
  • Inhalation in Kapalbhati breathing is completely involuntary and happens naturally.
  • After the passive inhalation, exhale once again forcefully.
  • Repeating this for at least ten repetitions.
  • As you start to feel comfortable with the exercise, you can increase the force of your exhalation and increase the repetitions to fifty.
  • Ideally, you should be able to practice this Kapalbhati breathing exercise for ten minutes at a time for the most health benefits.

The benefits of practicing Kapalbhati on a regular basis are undeniable. In fact, many people believe that if there is just one pranayama that should be included in your daily routine, it should be Kapalbhati. Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of practicing Kapalbhati breathing:

  • This type of breathing exercise works on the heart and lungs and helps maximize their functioning.
  • Kapalbhati improves digestion and reduces stomach problems such as gas, indigestion, and constipation.
  • The intense movements of the abdominal muscles help tone the area and reduce fat around the stomach.
  • According to ancient yoga texts, Kapalbhati breathing can remove negative thoughts through the process of skull cleansing. This cleansing also extends to the other charkas or energy pathways in the body and improves the flow of ‘Prana’ or Life Force through all parts of the body.
  • Kapalbhati breathing if performed correctly can generate heat within the body. This helps rid the body of harmful toxins and prevent illnesses.

While Kapalbhati breathing is a relatively simple type of pranayam as compared to some of the others, care should still be taken when practicing. Cautions for Kapalbhati breathing includes:

  • If you suffer from heart or lung diseases, high blood pressure, ulcers or circulatory problems, Kapalbhati should be practiced only under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.
  • If you feel nauseous or dizzy, slow down your breathing or stop the exercise completely.
  • If you suffer from stroke or epilepsy, you should avoid Kapalbhati altogether.
  • Many schools of yoga advise against practicing Kapalbhati when pregnant or menstruating. Speak to your yoga teacher for guidance regarding this recommendation.
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