Kapalbhati Pranayama technique and benefits


Kapalbhati is a breathing process that potentially detoxifies the body especially the nervous system. It reverses the natural breathing process. We all inhale actively and exhale passively, but when you practice Kapalbhati you exhale actively and inhale passively. This reverse process of breathing has immense effects on the nervous system. The major function of Kapalbhati is to detoxify all the systems in the body. With each exhalation, the toxins move out of the body. Major health problems can be avoided by merely practicing this breathing technique.

Kapalbhati (Frontal Brain Cleansing BreathImage Source

The Sanskrit name Kapalbhati is derived from 2 words. First ‘Kapal’ which means ‘forehead’ or ‘cranium’ and second ‘Bhati’ which means ‘grandeur’ or ‘light’. Therefore, the meaning of Kapalbhati is to bring clarity to the frontal brain by purifying it through the practice.

Kapalbhati Pranayama Techniques

Technique 1 : Basic

  1. Choose a meditation pose to sit in, preferably Sukhasana, Padmasana or Siddhasana. Keep the head and spine straight.
  2. Place both of your hands on your knees with palms facing down. Or keep the palms facing upwards and join the tips of your index finger and thumbs.
  3. Close your eyes, take slow breaths and relax your body.
  4. Make a forceful exhalation by contracting your abdominal muscles followed by a usual inhalation, relaxing the abdominal muscles. There must be no efforts in inhalation.
  5. Take 10 rapid exhalations, then inhale normally and exhale deeply. Let the breath return to its normal pace. This is one round of Kapalbhati Pranayam. Practice 3- 5 rounds initially.

Add extra 5 counts each week as the abdominal muscles gain strength. Continue to increase the count same way till you reach 60 – 100 counts in a single round. Practice Kapalbhati before any meditative practice or at the beginning of your yoga session.

Technique 2: With Alternate Nostrils

  1. Sit in a meditation pose. Relax the body keeping the eyes closed.
  2. Gently press the right nostril with your right thumb.
  3. Exhale through the left nostril forcefully 10 times.
  4. In the end, inhale and exhale deeply through the left nostril.
  5. Next, press the left nostril and repeat the process again.
  6. After altering both the nostril, practice again 10 exhalations without blocking any nostril.

This makes one round. Practice 3-5 rounds. Gradually increase up to 50 rounds as you get more and more comfortable with the practice.

Technique 3: With Inner Retention

Practice this technique only after getting good enough in Technique 2.

After practicing the desired number of round, take a deep inhalation and retain the breath inside for as long as you can comfortably and then exhale slowly. Again practice 3-5 rounds.

Technique 4 : With External Retention

Practice this technique only when you have become well in Technique 3.

To practice this technique first repeat Technique 3, after exhaling retain the breath outside for as long as you can comfortably. Practice 3-5 rounds.

Kapalbhati (Frontal Brain Cleansing BreathImage Source

Practice Tips

  1. Be aware of your breaths throughout the practice. Gradually increase the number of rounds, the forcefulness of exhalation and length on inner and outer retention slowly.
  2. Never practice Pranayam when you are sick or have recently recovered from illness.
  3. The exhalation must be carried out through the abdomen. As you exhale rapidly, ensure that your shoulders chest and face remain relaxed.
  4. Practice in the morning on empty stomach. Another good time is evening after 4 to 5 hours of having your afternoon meal.
  5. If you experience dizziness or pain, stop for a while and resume the practice, applying less force in exhalations this time.
  • Avoid practicing Kapalbhati if you suffer from high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, vertigo, hernia, severe backache, epilepsy or gastric ulcers.
  • Don’t practice Kapalbhati during pregnancy.
Kapalbhati Benefits
  1. Strengthens and balances the nervous system.
  2. Cleanses lungs thus increasing their capacity.
  3. Strengthens abdominal muscles, stimulates digestive organs.
  4. Energizes brain improving its work capacity and fights laziness.
  5. Purifies nadis improving the overall functioning of the body.
  6. It can dissolve any kind of cyst that has formed inside the body.
  7. Beneficial for people suffering from respiratory disorders.
  8. Removes excess mucus hence beneficial for those who suffer frequent colds.
  9. Increases metabolic rate and reduces excessive weight from the belly.

Stay healthy stay strong and get the best out of life.

Recommended articles:

  1. Chakrasana (Wheel Pose): steps, cautions & benefits
  2. Matsyasana (Fish Pose) l Benefits of Matsyasana
  3. Kandharasana (Shoulder Pose): steps, precautions & benefits
  4. Shashankasana (Rabbit Pose) meaning, steps, precautions, & benefits
  5. Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend) steps, precautions & benefits

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  • A great information on different types of kapalbhati techniques and a detailed explanation on how to perform each technique. A great list of precautionary measures that have to be taken while performing the techniques. Thanks for sharing your ideas and benefits.

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