In yoga, breath is just as important as the postures. Linking your breath with your movement creates complete awareness. These breathing exercises are called Pranayama, which means breath control.
A while back I wrote about two different types of Pranayama. Ujayii (Ocean Breath) is used in Ashtanga Yoga throughout the entire 90 minute practice to keep your movements and your mind calm, steady and strong. The other, Sitali (Tongue Hissing), is a cooling breath used when feeling overheated or stressed.
Kapalabhati (Ka-pa-la-ba-ti) is another kind of pranayama, called the Cleansing Breath. It's a great breath to do if you are feeling foggy in the head, or if you have mucus in your lungs or nose. Kapalabhati gets rid of stagnant air in the body and awakens the senses.
Check out this video to see how it's done.
Want to know how to do it, then read more
- I like to do this breath right before or after lying down in Savasana (Corpse pose). Begin in a comfortable seated position.
- Breathe normally through your nose for a few breaths, keeping your mouth closed. Then take a normal breath in and begin taking short, rapid exhalations out of your nose (as if you were blowing your nose). This will pump out the breath and your inhales will happen automatically. You'll feel your belly pulling in with each exhalation (you can watch yourself in a mirror to see). Continue pumping out these quick and fast exhalations for as long as you want. I usually do it for 30 seconds or so.
- End by exhaling all the air out and then go back to regular calm breathing through your nose. You can repeat this Kapalabhati Pranayama again if you like, but each time you finish a round, make sure to follow it with regular breathing.
Fit's Tips: You can take the exhalations at any speed you want. If you do it too fast, you might get dizzy. If this happens, just slow down the Kapalabhati or go back to regular breathing.