(pronounced kah-PAH-lah-bah-tee) "Skull Polishing
Breath" "Cleansing Breath"
Why do it?
Kapalabhati is an incredibly energizing breath - better
than coffee during a break. It strengthens the
abdominal muscles, the diaphragm, and the heart. It
massages the viscera (internal organs), stimulating
digestion and elimination. Removes stale air and toxins
from the lungs, cleansing the body. Energizes and
massages the central nervous system, increasing energy,
clarity, and alertness. The CSF (Cranio-Sacral Fluid)
is being pumped more energetically around your brain,
thus aka "polishing your skull" and promoting clarity of
What is happening?
The rapid and forceful exhalation and pumping of the
abdomen and diaphragm are stimulating circulation,
increasing the circulation in your body. The heart
muscles are being stimulated with the squeezing,
contracting movement and then the relaxation of the
abdomen. This creates a "pumping" motion around the
heart, stimulating circulation all the way up to your
brain and skull (hence the name "skull polishing
breath"). The pumping motion of the belly deeply
massages and stimulates your internal organs, increasing
health and energy levels. CSF (Cranio-Sacral Fluid,
also known as cerebral-spinal fluid, found in the spinal
column and surrounding the brain) changes pressure
according to the natural respiratory rhythm. The sharp
expulsions and rapid pace of Kapalabhati cause a
tremendous shift in the pressure, causing the CSF to
flow more rapidly, and be circulated around the brain -
massaging the brain and enlivening every cell.
How to Practice:
Sit firmly in a cross-legged posture with the spine,
neck and head held erect.
First, exhale completely and then take a few deep
Relax the abdominal muscles.
Inhale without taking a deep breath; make a short
and forceful expulsion of the breath through both
nostrils producing a hissing sound and,
simultaneously, contract the lower abdomen by a
rapid and vigorous thrust of the abdominal muscles.
Release the contraction of the abdominal muscles
quickly and the lungs will automatically take in
air. Follow at once by another forcible expulsion of
your breath, contracting the abdomen in the same
manner and letting it relax outward as the air is
drawn in again.
Repeat the exercise a number of times in quick
succession, concentrating your mind on the region of
the abdomen below the navel.
After you complete a round and make the last
exhalation, take in a deep and slow breath and then
resume normal breathing to afford rest to the lungs.
As you are learning, practice a round of 15 to 25
repetitions. Gradually, overtime, progress to 50
reps then 75, perhaps to 120 reps per round should
be the maximum. If you feel winded, slow down to
allow yourself more time to inhale.
Perform three rounds in each sitting, with
sufficient pause between the rounds, when normal
breathing should be done.
- If you feel dizzy or light-headed stop for a few
minutes then resume. Perhaps spend shorter amounts of
time practicing this breath.
- If you have high blood pressure, check with a doctor
- Recent surgery