How to do Kapalabhati Pranayama and its Benefits in Yoga – Skull Shining Techniques

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As you know, Yoga is all about meditation and stretching of your body in different forms. Popular yoga poses like Kapalabhati Pranayama, Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), Bhujang asana (Cobra Pose),  Dhanur asana (Bow Pose), and countless other effective yoga asanas help in reducing your weight as well as keeping your stress at bay. 

In this article, I will be talking about one of the most important asanas in yoga, Kapalabhati Pranayama Skull Shining Breathing in detail. Before I begin, I want you to know how breathing the right way is so important while performing yoga. At the end of the article there is a video showing the step by step process of doing Kapalbhati Pranayama

Meaning of Kapalabhati (Skull Shining) Breathing Pranayama in Yoga

Kapalabhati Skull Shining Breathing pranayama in Yoga

Performing Kapalbhati regularly, mainly influences the brain or any other spaces inside the head that lie under the skull. These organs are essentially connected to the back of the nose.

It is important to know the proper technique to do the skull shining breathing exercise. The main purpose of this is to clean your ‘cranial sinuses’, however, it has other side effects like curing anaemia.

The technique is mainly a process of short and strong exhalations due to which the inhalation happens.

How to do Kapalabhati Skull Shining Breathing

Skull Shinning Breathing Kapalabhati is a traditional yet advanced ‘yogic breathing cleansing technique’ that is used as a basic warm-up for Pranayama in Yoga.  

The article shows you the steps on how to do Kapalabhati. Follow the steps and you will realize how breathing the right way does half the job for your body.

How to do KAPALBHATI (Skull Shining) Breathing

Since Skull Shining Breathing (Kapalabhati) Pranayama is so energizing, practice it first thing in the morning for an invigorating wake-up call. It will take away your sleepiness and fatigue.

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Kapalbhati Prayama
Step 1 

Sit in a cross-legged position comfortably with your back straight and erect. Place your hands on your knees in Gyan mudra (the tip of the thumb and the index finger are joint, while the other three fingers are stretched out.) 

Gyan Mudra Steps and Benefits

Also, make sure your back and shoulders do not move and are always erect. Keep your face relaxed as well. 

Step 2 

Take a big and deep breath in. Feel the air right till it fills up your lungs.

Step 3 

Soon after, as you exhale out through the nose, contract your stomach muscles in towards the spine. Stretch as much as you comfortably can.  

Step 4 

When you begin to relax your abdomen, your breath will automatically flow into your lungs. Take 20-30 pumping of breaths to complete one round of Skull Shining Breathing Kapalabhati Pranayama. 

Step 5 

After completing the round, relax your body with your eyes closed and feel the sensations in your body. 

Practice two or more rounds of Skull Shining Breathing Kapalabhati Pranayama. Once you are comfortable, you can increase to 5 rounds of 50-100 pumping of breath. 

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Tips to practice – KAPALABHATI Breathing Skull Shining  

  • The exhalation technique is forceful so, just throw out your breath. 
  • Don’t worry about the inhalation. It will happen naturally as you relax your abdominal muscles. 
  • Keep your observation on breathing out more than breathing in. 
  • Practice this on an empty stomach. 

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What are the Benefits of doing Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breathing) : 

There are multiple benefits to this and it is not just confined to physical but mental as well. 

Physical Benefits: 
  1. Kapalabhati clears the nasal passages, lungs, bronchial tubes, and the entire respiratory system. 
  2. Strengthens and increases the capacity of the lungs and boosts immunity. 
  3. This Yoga pose helps to eliminate excess accumulated mucus and drain the sinuses. 
  4. As more carbon dioxide is eliminated, the red blood cells are oxygenated, as a result, increasing the richness of the blood. 
  5. Improves your blood circulation thus, adding radiance to your face thus called ‘Skull Shining’. 
  6. Increases the metabolic rate and helps in weight loss. 
  7. Stimulates the abdominal organs which are very useful for those suffering from diabetes. 
  8. The contraction of the abdominal muscles helps to massage the liver, spleen, pancreas, heart, and stomach, thus revitalizing them further.  
  9. Improves digestion of those suffering from constipation. 
  10. Energizes the nervous system and stimulates the brain cells. 
Mental Benefits: 
  1. It calms and uplifts the mind. 
  2. It clears the nadis which is a network of channels through which energy travels through the body.
  3. Brings about a feeling of exhilaration. 
  4. It activates pranic energy
  5. Increases alertness to the mind as there is an increase of oxygen in the brain. 
  6. It shakes off sluggishness.
  7. Helps to eliminate and release negative emotions and thoughts.

Shoulderstand Steps, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Importance of KAPALABHATI Skull Shining Breathing 

When you do pranayama, 80% of the toxins in your body are released through the outgoing breath. Regular practice of Skull Shining Breathing will detoxify your entire body and all its systems.

Since Kapalabhati literally translates to ‘the shining skull breathing,’  thus, regular practice of this pranayama will mould your brain to be healthier and leave you intellectually sharper and more refined.

What are the Common Mistakes while doing Kapalbhati: 

If you are a yoga beginner, then you are bound to make a few common mistakes that most of us have encountered. But, you always learn from your mistakes.

Here are a few common mistakes that you can avoid. Such as,

  • Moving your diaphragm in the opposite direction. While inhaling, many people contract their abdominal muscles, which is wrong. You only contract while exhaling.
  • Moving your back, chest or legs while exhalation. Refrain from moving while exhalation. Keep your back erect. 
  • Contracting the shoulders to push out air when exhaling. 
  • Distorting the facial muscles to force air out of the nose. Keep your face relaxed as much as you can.

Who should avoid doing KAPLABHATI or Skull Shining Breathing  

  1. If you have hypertension and heart problems, you should practice this breathing technique only under a yoga expert’s guidance. 
  2. If you have an artificial pacemaker or stent, epilepsy, hernia, backache due to slip disc, or have recently undergone abdominal surgery, please avoid practising this breathing technique. 
  3. Women who have recently given birth or are pregnant should not practice this technique. Even during menstruation, it should be avoided as it involves vigorous abdominal presses. 
  4. Even though Kapalabhati relieves asthma, this should never be practiced when an asthmatic attack is in progress. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) Pranayama – Steps, Techniques, Benefits and Common Mistakes

There are mainly three kinds of Kapalbhati:

Vatakarma – Shinning Skull Breathing Kapalbhati
Vyutkarma – Shinning Skull Breathing Kapalbhati
Sheetkarma – Shinning Skull Breathing Kapalbhati

Vatakarma – Shinning Skull Breathing Kapalbhati:

It is a Yogic practice very similar to Bhrastrika – the only difference being is the exhalation is active while inhalation is passive. This is opposite to your normal breathing pattern.

Vyutkarma – Shinning Skull Breathing Kapalbhati:

It is a practice similar to ‘Jal Neti’. In this, you sniff water in through your nostrils and let it flow down into the mouth and eventually spit it out.

Sheetkarma – Shinning Skull Breathing Kapalbhati:

In this, the water is taken in through the mouth and expelled through the nose.


Consistency and Patience are the keys to doing yoga regularly. Most of us are always looking for quick results. But, sorry to burst your bubble, yoga practiced with dedication and time will give you the results you are expecting but not immediately, only gradually. 

Skull Shining Breathing Kapalabhati Pranayama will make you realize the importance of breathing and how you take it for granted so easily. Even though, you are not able to see your breath but feeling and acknowledging it every day, will help you to appreciate the life you have.

So, Let’s Yoga! Let’s breathe in all the fresh oxygen around us.

Trust me this journey will change your life. 

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