Kapalabhati – Remove Toxins & Stale Air

Third in the series of Pranayama (yogic breathing) articles is the Kapalabhati breath.  Not only does it energize the mind & body, but it increases lung capacity, removes toxins and stale air from the lungs and more.  It’s a lot more intense than either Ujjayi Breath or 3-Part Breath, so take care with this one and stop if you get dizzy.  If practiced correctly and on an empty stomach, the benefits are varied and great.

Kapalabhati (Shining Skull Breath)

  1. Find a comfortable seated position with the spine straight.
  2. Kapalabhati consists of short, forceful exhalations and passive inhalations.
  3. Take a few deep breaths, relax the body, relax the mind.
  4. Take a slow and steady inhalation expanding the belly.
  5. Exhale forcefully through the nostrils contracting the abdominal muscles in a pumping movement.
  6. Passively inhale, repeat several times.  Go at your own rhythm, eventually increasing the pace.
  7. As you learn this pranayama, it may help to place one hand on the belly to feel the contraction that happens with each exhalation.  It is like you are pumping the stomach.
  8. At the end of several rounds, exhale completely and hold the breath as long as comfortable, applying Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock).
    • Chin lock: let the chin drop to the sternum without collapsing the shoulders forward.  Lift the chest to meet the chin.
  9. Release the chin lock and relax the breath, focusing on the third eye (point between the eyebrows).
  10. Start with one or two rounds of 10 or 20 repetitions.  Over time increase to 70 – 100.
  11. If you start feeling dizzy during the rounds or short of breath, slow down and make the inhalations longer or take a break

Benefits: energizes mind and body, revitalizes nervous system, brings mental clarify and alertness, increases lung capacity, massages abdominal organs (good for digestion, elimination), removes toxins and stale air from lungs, exercises and strengthens diaphragm, heart, lungs and nerves.  Beneficial for common cold, sinusitis, cough, and deviated nasal septum.

Contraindications: recent abdominal or lung surgery, full stomach, menstruation, pregnancy, emphysema or other serious lung conditions, heart disease, un-medicated high blood pressure, slip disc, hernia, cancer in abdominal region, colitis.



I discovered Yoga in 2001 and Pilates in 2016, and have been learning and expanding in my practice ever since. I'm a certified Yoga & Pilates teacher.  I also hold a Pre-Natal and Post-Natal Yoga certification.  I am grateful to be able to share my knowledge and help others through Yoga & Pilates.

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