Kapalbhati Pranayama

Last Updated: December 19, 2017

Definition - What does Kapalbhati Pranayama mean?

Kapalbhati pranayama is a yogic breathing practice that is considered a kriya, or internal purification practice. The term is derived from the Sanskrit, kapal, meaning "skull" and bhati, meaning “to shine.”

To practice kapalbhati pranayama, the yogi assumes a seated position where the belly and chest are not restricted, such as in virasana or sukhasana. The attention is brought to the lower abdomen and/or the hands are placed on the lower abdomen. On the inhale, the lower abdomen is contracted and on the exhale, the breath is forced out quickly. This is repeated for as many times as is comfortable in 60 seconds. Advanced yogis can complete multiple rounds of this pranayama.

Kapalbhati pranayama may also be referred to in English as skull shining breath.

Yogapedia explains Kapalbhati Pranayama

Kapalbhati pranayama is considered an intermediate to advanced breathing technique. It is believed to cleanse the internal organs, energize the nervous and circulatory systems, as well as improve metabolism. In addition, many yogis practice this pranayama technique in order to clear the nadis.

Kapalbhati pranayama increases oxygen supply in the body, which can promote clarity of mind and focus. According to Hatha yoga practitioners, the kapalbhati technique cleanses the body of all impurities.

Advanced yogis may wish to practice kapalbhati pranayama while incorporating the three bandhas.

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