Kapalabhati is not a proper pranayama technique but is one of the six kriyas (sat kriya) that are contemplated in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Kriyas are techniques for cleansing and purifying the body. In this case, it is a technique of cleaning the airways. Master Desikachar used to call her fast detox or fast detox.

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The Sanskrit name kapalabhati is composed of kapala which means skull and Bhati, shine or clean. The term seems to refer to the clarifying effect of the mind attributed to this respiratory technique. It is said to disperse the fog of understanding and give us a new and cleaner point of view.

Although it is not a technique of pranayama in itself, it helps to work the entire respiratory system.


How to practice kapalabhati

  • Choose a quiet place, free of noise and environmental pollutants such as dust, pollution or unpleasant odours.
  • Sit in a comfortable position, on the floor or in a rigid chair. S. Ramaswami, in his book Yoga for the three stages of life, tells us that the best posture to practice this breathing is padmasana or lotus posture. If this is not accessible to you yet, you can opt for others such as Ardha padmasana or half lotus pose, vajrasana or virasana or hero pose.
  • Breathe naturally through the nose and when it expires (also through the nose), do it vigorously, while contracting the muscles of the abdomen strongly. Pull the abdomen up with each expiration.
  • The inspirations occur automatically but the exhalation must be powerful and vigorous. Here is an explanatory video.
  • Ramaswami advises performing kapalabathi in batches of 24 breaths with intermediate breaks, for beginners. Later, you can increase the number of breaths per interval up to 36. It is advisable to do 3 rounds of 36 breaths, followed in other cases by other pranayama techniques.


Easy Variation of Kapalbhati Pranayama

If you have trouble repeating three to five times in the beginning, then you can reduce it according to your own.

Benefits of kapalabhati

  • Clean the airways. Ramaswami points out that this technique gradually reduces congestion in the bronchi and bronchioles. It can help even in the early stages of emphysema to restore the lungs and restore normal functioning. Although it is not advisable to practice it in cases of sinusitis or acute rhinitis, regular practice helps clean the pathways and prevent these ailments from developing.
  • Relieves allergies and colds. Ramaswami points out that even for generalized cough this breathing can be very useful.
  • Stimulates metabolism.
  • Create body heat.
  • Tones the abdominal muscles.
  • All internal organs located in the abdomen receive an adequate massage: the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, adrenal glands, stomach, and intestines improve your blood supply. Therefore, it may be beneficial for those suffering from irritable bowel, constipation, certain types of diabetes due to a slow pancreas, flatulence, or dyspepsia.
  • It helps in improving the metabolism process and also reduces weight.
  • It purifies all the nerves in your body.
  • Strengthens abdominal muscles. It is very beneficial for people suffering from diabetes.
  • Corrects the circulation of blood in the body and this increases the flare on the face.
  • Stimulates the digestive organs through which nutrients are fully circulated in the body.
  • Your stomach will be automatically reduced by doing kapalbhati.
  • Calms the mind. Cures many sexual disorders.


  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy.
  • Menorrhagia or fibrosis in the uterus.
  • Emphysema or severe respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.


Some aspects to consider


  • The important thing in kapalabhati is the intensity of expiration, due to the strength of the abdominal muscles. It is this powerful exhalation that provides the detox effect of this technique.
  • The speed, ie the time it took to complete a breathing cycle is less important. Ramaswami and other teachers like Kaminoff, warn that we should not sacrifice the intensity of expiration for the sake of greater speed.
  • In the initial stages of practice, coughing may occur, especially in people with excessive phlegm or smokers.
  • The use of mule bandha or the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles is not mandatory, but it is advisable to prevent abdominal bumps from weakening the pelvic floor. Many times mule bandha is produced automatically by bringing the abdomen inwards on expiration.
  • Keep in mind some precautions while doing Kapalbhati Pranayama – If you feel pain or dizziness while doing the asana, stop doing the asana and sit quietly for a while. When this problem is over, start the posture again with careful and less emphasis. If this problem persists even then tell your yoga teacher.

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