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Kapalbhati Kriya in Vajrasana

‘Kapal’ is a Sanskrit word; it means forehead / skull and ‘Bhati’ means shine / light. Thus, Kapalbhati means an exercise that makes the skull shine. It also means that Kapalbhati is the practice, which brings a state of light and clarity to the frontal region of the brain with the inner radiance. 

In this Pranayama, complete attention is given to exhalation only and hardly any effort is applied to inhalation. Inhalation is mild, slow and longer than the exhalation. Quick exhalation and natural inhalation follows each other. Kapalabhati should be practiced on an empty stomach or three to four hours after a meal.


First, lie down in Shavasana. Take a few deep breaths consciously. See that the diaphragm is moving properly. Make sure the body and mind are relaxed. Then sit up in Vajrasana with cushion under the folded legs and hands on the knees. After taking a comfortable sitting position, start Kapalbhati Pranayama.


Inhale slowly and comfortably, relaxing the abdomen allowing the air to return gently to the lungs. At the end of each inhalation, exhale rapidly and forcefully through the nostrils by contracting the abdominal muscles quickly with a backward push causing the diaphragm to rise and force the air out of the lungs. This completes one cycle of Kapalabhati exercise.


In this Kapalbhati Pranayama, instead of keeping the head & neck straight, move the neck from one side to the other as we do in neck exercise. First look straight & exhale forcefully, then move your neck to right shoulder & do one stroke, then bring the neck to the center & do the stroke, then to the left side & do the same, then again to the centre & so on. In this way, we can control the speed of the Pranayama & maintain the correct breathing pattern. While moving the neck with each stroke, we do not get tired because we get time to relax the stomach in between the neck movements & breathing is also happening rhythmically. This type of Pranayama is very good for beginners.



Do Kapalbhati Pranayama for one minute or less than 1 minute followed by 4 minutes rest in Shavasana. Total time is 5 minutes. This cycle can be repeated 10 to 12 times or it depends on the person’s stamina.


Every week add 15 seconds for Pranayama & decrease that much time for rest. But total time should remain 5 minutes.


Do 3 minutes Pranayama and 2 minutes rest.


Do 3 ½ minutes exercise and 1½ minutes rest.


Do 4 minutes exercise and 1-minute rest.


Do 5 minutes Pranayama. Then lie down in Shavasana for 10 minutes or so


This Kriya washes out the carbon dioxide & purifies the blood. It removes toxins from the body, cleans the nasal passages and removes bronchial congestion. It is a highly energizing abdominal breathing exercise, which stimulates the abdominal organs. Since we are using the neck in this Kriya, it means we are relaxing the neck & getting all the benefits of the neck exercise.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna

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