Kapalabhati Breathing. What is it. Why we do it. How we do it.

December 26, 2021 4 min read



 What is Kapalabhati Breathing ?

  Kapalabhati Breathing or Breath of Fire is a form of breathing exercise used in all forms of yoga.  Kapalabhati Breathing in the Bikram Hot Yoga Series is what we will focus on in this article. The term Kapalabhati translates from Sanskrit to English as follows: Kapala has the meaning of "skull," and Bhati has the definition of "shining," "light," or "illuminating." This explains why this form of breathe work is also described as Skull Shining. The term Kapalabhati Breathing is also referred to as The Breathe Of Fire in the Bikram Series.

 Kapalabhati Breathing is a cleansing breath exercise with a very active exhalation and a passive inhalation. This is the reverse of the typical breathing pattern we are used to. It is used at the end of the Bikram Hot Yoga Series to push out any remaining toxins in your system. This happens when you are done practicing and before you go to your final Savasana. You do two sets of sixty breathes each when you are done with your Bikram Hot Yoga Series practice today. The first set of sixty breaths goes slower, and the second set of breaths goes much faster. 

The Why of Kapalabhati Breathing

 The main point of doing Kapalabhati Breathing is its detoxifying qualities both physically and mentally. This form of breathing exercise is excellent at clearing out your sinuses, so you may want to keep a box of tissues nearby in case that you need them. The inhales and exhales are done in and out through the nose outside of the world of Bikram, . But in Bikram, we use the mouth to make the exhales, and the inhales just come passively without you even noticing. Kapalabhati is very good at clearing the mind, and the name Skull Shining states as many people visualize their heads glowing after doing this breathing exercise. As much as eighty percent of the toxins trapped in the body are released during the exhalations of Kapalabhati breathing some believe  .

 The How ofKapalabhati Breathing

 You start your Kapalabhati Breathing by sitting on the floor on your knees or cross-legged, depending on your personal more comfortable. Most people will do the Kapalabhati Breathing while on their knees while sitting back into the heels and the tops of the feet into the floor. Place your palms on your thighs, lockout the elbows, and keep your arms perfectly straight to give yourself support and the spine straight during Kapalabbhati Breathing. Your spine will remain straight throughout the breathing exercise, with the stomach relaxed. 

 The breaths in Kapalabhati should be reverse of the way we usually breathe in our daily lives. You have very active and forced exhales as if you are blowing out a birthday candle and passive inhales that you will not even notice for the duration of your Kapalabhati breathing exercise. As you inhale, pull the belly button in quickly towards the spine, and as you release the abdomen, your lungs will passively fill with air.

You do two sets of Kapalabhati breathing in the Bikram Hot Yoga Series to finish your practice. In the first set, the breathing is slower, and the set takes longer to do. In the second set, you pick up the pace and do your breathes faster. Immediately lay on your back with your feet facing the back wall and go to your final Savasana for the day when you are done with your second set of Kapalabhati Breathing.


 The Kapalabhati Breathing in the Bikram Yoga Series is the final thing you do in your practice before the final Savasana and should not be skipped. We all have busy lives, and sometimes we need to leave class early, but you should do everything you can to stay and do this final breathing practice. The primary purpose of Kapalabhati breathing is to release the last toxins that remain inside your body at the end of your practice.

You do two sets of breathing where it seems like you are blowing out a candle sixty times in a row, You need to make your spine is straight, and your arms are straight with the palms on your thighs. Keep snapping your abdomen in on each exhale, and the inhales will happen automatically without you even noticing them. Remember to do your final Savasana right after Kapalabhati Breathing to receive all of your Hot Yoga practice benefits. I hope this post helps you better understand this critical breathe work. Namaste.

 Cheat Sheet for New Teachers and Beginners

  • Start by sitting on the floor  and get into a  comfortable position
  • You can either sit on  the knees or cross legged
  • If you are on your knees sit back into your heels
  • Have your palms on your  knees
  • You need to keep the elbows straight
  • The spine  should be straight for the duration of the exercise 
  • You need to relax the stomach
  • Begin to exhale while snapping the belly out on each exhale
  • The inhales will happen automatically with out even noticing
  • You start to do a series of exhales out through the mouth as if you are blowing out a candle repeatedly
  • When you do your exhales snap the stomach in firmly after each one
  • By snapping the stomach in forcefully you are forcefully exhaling in short and frequent bursts.
  • As you relax the stomach the inhales automatically fill the lungs
  • You need to do two sets of sixty breathes each. The first set you do is slower and the second set of breathes is much quicker
  • When done your breathing take the final Savasana of the day


  • Will force out the toxins and any remaining stale air that are trapped inside the lungs
  • The breathe is good for your circulation
  • Helps in warming up the body
  • Excellent for clearing out the sinuses
  • The breathing exercise is good for aiding in your digestion
  • Clears out your lungs
  • Can help tone the abdominal muscles
  • Releases the allergens from the body during allergy season
  • Good for trimming and toning the waist time
  • Can help with weight loss
  • Kapalabhati is an energy booster




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