Do you need more fire in your belly, more ‘pep in your step’? Do you feel tired and sluggish? A bit of ‘Skull shinning’ breathing maybe just what you need!

Kapalabhati is translated as  ‘Skull Shinning’ and this breathing technique is also known as ‘Breath of Fire‘ as it helps to spark the fire within.

This type of breathing is sometimes performed in Martial Arts and plays a big part in Kundalini Yoga. Note: this is an advanced breathing technique please don’t attempt until you know the basics of Yoga.

Benefits

  • Benefits lungs and respiratory system
  • Increases oxygenation of the blood helping to detoxify the body more effectively
  • Balances the nervous system
  • Increases vitality and clarity
  • Reduces sluggishness or fatigue
  • Improves concentration

How to do it

  • Sit comfortably, keeping the head and spine upright.
  • Close your eyes or keep your gaze low.
  • Place your hands on your lower belly.
  • Start by breathing in through the nostrils (mouth is kept close) and then making a forced exhale through both nostrils, as you exhale draw the belly button towards the spine. I like to imagine a conveyor belt of candles moving slowly towards my face, and I need to extinguish each candle with an exhale through the nostrils. You do not need to force the inhale, the inhale will happen naturally.
  • Take a couple of rounds of 30 breaths, eventually you may work your way to 108 breaths (108 is considered a sacred number in many Eastern traditions as well as yoga practice).
  • Notice the effect this pranayama has on you, you may feel a slight tingling sensation around the front of the skull, hence the name ‘skull shining breath’.
  • For more advanced versions using breath retention, please work with your yoga instructor.

Contra-indications

Do not do this if you are pregnant or menstruating or suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy take your chin to your chest and come back to regular breathing.

Why this works

This pranayama (breathing technique) clears out blocked energy channels in the body. It works on the subtle energy channels (nadis), hence the name. Nadi = subtle energy channels Shodana = cleaning/clearing