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Kapalbhati Breath

AKA - Shining Skull Breath, Breath of Fire (or, in our house, Yogic Espresso)

This Pranayama (breath practice) promises so many benefits, from detoxing our systems and toning our bellies, to cleansing our brains and elevating us to a higher state of consciousness. I've listed more below, but in essence it's a lovely a warming, invigorating and energising breath - the yogic equivalent of a morning espresso (and, practiced regularly, just as addictive!)

I'll hold my hands up - the first few times I practiced this, it was tough. It left me feeling totally uncoordinated (think rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time) and slightly lightheaded. I wondered how anyone could practice for more than a minute or so. The record (which I don't recommend you try at home) is 52 hours!! But I'm so glad I persevered. Like all of my yoga, it's still very much a practice, but with increased practice comes increased benefit. Each time I take a little more from it and step into the rest of my day with a little more spring in my step.

You can check out the basics of this faced paced, exhalation-led breath here. Why not try it every morning (ideally on an empty stomach) for a week and see what you think. I'd love to know how you find it!

As fab as Kapalbhati breath is, it is not for everyone. Avoid If you have high blood pressure, a pacemaker fitted, epilepsy or history of seizure, stoke or brain injury. Or if you are pregnant - save it for later. But do feel free to contact me for alternatives

Benefits (a few of the many):

• Aids digestion and increases metabolic rate, so it's great for supporting weight loss, particularly around the belly area. • Strengthens and tones the lower transverse abdominis muscles - great for your posture and body confidence. • Brightens the eyes, brings a glow to the face and increases mental clarity. • Strengthens the lungs and improves respiration - removing stale air from the base of the lungs and awakening any 'dead space'. • Improves circulation and oxygenation of cells throughout the body. • Stimulates and strengthens the Parasympathetic Nervous System which has a de-stressing, calming effect. • Increases Agni and Pitta Dosha (fire energy) within the body - great for creating a little internal heat during the winter months. • Stimulates Manipura Chakra - helping to strengthen your willpower, determination and powers of persuasion. • Leaves you feeling awakened, energised and glowing – honestly – try it and you’ll see!!

But will it really shine my skull?

“Kapal” means “skull”; “bhati” means “to shine", but it's not all in the name. This practice cleanses the nasal passageways and sinuses, and improves circulation and oxygenation particularly to the brain - so you may well feel like your brain has had a bit of a polish and clean ;-)

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