Kapalabhat (Kapalabhati = Forehead Shining, Kapala = skull and bhati = shining or cleaning). This is very different from our yogic breath, here we are make the sound of our breath at our nose (instead of our chest).
You pump your diagraphm and abdominals sharply and quickly on the exhale and relax on the inhale, practice this by coughing — we do a similar contraction of the diaphragm when coughing except a cough is through the mouth — we are keeping the breath through the nose here. Normally we relax on the exhale, instead here we pump the diaphragm on the exhale, which will help to strengthen your diaphragm.
Kapalabhati helps to propel the breath upward toward the skull where it helps to detox the brain through the glymphatics, and in the process the lymphatics in the abdomen also get a massage helping them to move and detoxify as well.
Purposeful forceful breathing helps to use all 5 lobes of the lungs — especially helps us to use the lower lobes of the lungs where we can access more oxygen rich blood increasing oxygenation which helps with detoxification and fat burning, and increasing vascularization in the lower lobes of the lungs.
How to perform:
- Take a slightly deeper inhale; exhale pump at a steady rhythm for about 30 exhales. Pace does come into play, I like a steady pace of about 15 seconds give or take to do the 30 pumps. Some like a faster pace, and some even slower.
- If you are new to this, start with less. To progress you can increase your pumps in each set (I have seen text books recommend as many as 500! -that is a bit much for me but under certain circumstances it may have a powerful healing effect).
- take a recovery breath or two
- repeat for a total of three rounds.
Kapalabhati helps to clear your mind and calm your thoughts, reducing stress. I literally feel like its sweeping debris from my brain.
Here is a helpful handout from Banyan Botanicals on Kapalabhati.