Skull Shining Breath - Kapalabhati Pranayama

woman sitting with a hand on her stomach and heart
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  • Type of Breath: Cleansing, invigorating, warming
  • Benefits: Can help prevent allergies, energizing

Precautions: It is best to avoid rapid breathing during pregnancy. If possible, have an experienced teacher demonstrate this breath for you.

This breath consists of rapid, forced exhales followed by passive inhales. Once you have the hang of it, kapalabhati breath can be done while holding poses (plank or boat pose, for example) as well as in a seated position.

It quickly builds heat and energizes your body.


  1. Come to sit in a comfortable cross legged position.
  2. Take two or three deep inhales and exhales through the nose to center yourself and prepare.
  3. Inhale until you feel about half way full, and then exhale sharply and forcefully through the nose, drawing the belly in as you exhale. This forces all the air out of your lungs. It may help you to place your hands on your abdomen to feel the sharp contraction there that accompanies each exhalation. 
  4. Let the inhales happen naturally. The belly releases and expands during the inhalations. 
  5. Continue this cycle of forceful exhales and passive inhales at a fast pace so that the belly is pumping continuously.
  6. If you are new to kapalabhati, start slowly with a round of ten sharp exhalations. If that feels ok, try three rounds of ten. 
  7. Work up to doing three rounds of thirty breaths each, coming back to deep inhales and exhales between each round.
  1. Come back to normal breathing if you feel lightheaded at any time.

Return to Introduction to Pranayama.

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