Kapalabhati Pranayama: Energize Your Day Now with Breath of Fire!
If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed, battling to keep your eyes open in the middle of the day, or fighting to stay awake and be productive after work, this is the perfect breathing exercise for you! Kapalabhati Pranayama is also known as skull shining breath or breath of fire. This pranayama practice falls into the energizing category of traditional yoga breathing practices that I teach and is a perfect caffeine-free pick me up!
Morning Wake Up
I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely not a morning person. I use kapalabhati pranayama most often to help me get out of bed in the morning and boy was this a game-changer for me! If you have a hard time getting up and running in the morning try breath of fire first thing for a boost of energy.
Prepare for Exercise
Kapalabhati pranayama takes advantage of activating the sympathetic nervous system. By activating the sympathetic nervous system heart rate increases and blood flow to muscles and lungs, increases as much as 12x more.
For an all-natural jitter-free energy boost at any time of day kapalabhati pranayama is the perfect exercise. This type of breathing exercise produces boost of energy by producing epinephrine (adrenaline). This will also reduce mental clutter, and increase focus and concentration.
How Does Kapalbhati Work
Kapalabhati pranayama focuses primarily on the exhalation and emphasizes short quick breaths. Because of this pattern of breathing, breath of fire activates our sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight portion of our nervous system. This replicates the type of adrenaline and energy we might need to jump up and outrun a herd of stampeding cattle. In our case, we can take advantage of this response for the energy boost we need to make it through the day at work.
Kapalabhati Side Effects & Kapalabhati Breathing Contraindications
Breath of fire pranayama isn’t right for every situation.If you have certain medical conditions you should be cautious using this technique.
If you have high blood pressure or heart disease this exercise isn’t a great choice as it will increase your heart rate and blood pressure. This is also a concern for pregnant women. A study was done by the Department of Physiology at the Nepalgunj Medical College Teaching Hospital on the Effect of Kapalbhati on Blood Pressure. You can check out this study for more detailed information.
Also avoid kapalabhati pranayama if you have a hernia. Squeezing and contracting your abdominal muscles is definitely something to avoid if you have a hernia.
Remember to listen to your body and know your limits. Always check with your primary care physician before undertaking any new health routines. Working with a breath coach is a great way to gain information and avoid any unwanted side effects.
Kapalabhati Pranayama Steps
- Come to a comfortable seated position with your spine upright. You want to make sure that your back isn’t hollow or arched, just neutral and relaxed.
- You can place one or both hands on your abs to help you feel the contractions.
- Quickly contract your lower belly and abs inward to push a burst of air out of your lungs.
- Relax and allow your lungs to refill naturally.
- Start slowly working up to a pace of one exhale-inhale cycle per 1 to 2 seconds.
- If you’re new to breath of fire you can start with the goal of completing 10 repetitions. As you feel more comfortable you can work up to 20 repetitions. You can repeat each block of 10-20 reps up to three times.
Learn How Yoga Breathing Works
If you’d like to learn more about how pranayama, yoga breathing, and breathwork exercises affect your nervous system and the types of exercises check out my blog post How Breathwork Works? Effective Practice or Just Woo Woo.