Abdominal pumps, Kapalabhati (Kapala = skull, Bhati = shine), are an important part of the practice of pranayama for its beneficial effects on the brain and the important supply of oxygen and energy it brings to the entire organism. It is also a purification exercise (Kriyas) for the lungs. This practice consists in exhaling vigorously through the nose by pulling in the abdomen on exhalation. On inhalation, the abdomen fills in and naturally comes back to its original position.


  1. Sitting in a crossed leg position, back straight, neck in line with the spine, eyes closed.
  2. Inhale, inflate abdomen.
  3. Exhale vigorously through the nose, pulling the abdomen in.
  4. On inhalation, let the abdomen naturally come back to its original position.
  5. Repeat step 3 and 4 for about 30 to 50 times, in a rhythmic way.
  6. Take 3 deep breaths, making the exhalation a bit longer to relax the lungs and the abdomen.
  7. On the third exhalation, empty the lungs as much as you can.
  8. Inhale about three quarters of the capacity of the lungs and hold the breath.
  9. Focus on the solar plexus and hold the breath as long as it is comfortable, without ever forcing the retention.
  10. Exhale and breath deeply to relax.

This series constitutes one round of Kapalabhati. In a regular practice, one can go up to 3 rounds, increasing the amount of pumps at each round (ex: 30 – 50 – 70 or 50- 100 – 150)


When exhaling, there should not be any tension in the shoulders, the face and the abdomen. The belly should remain relaxed and the abdominal muscles should not be contracted. It can be helpful to imagine that on each exhalation, one tries to get rid of a fly that would have landed right under your nose.



  • Brings oxygen and stimulates frontal lobes of the brain.
  • Optimizes gaseous exchanges (oxygen and CO2)
  • Stimulates organs of digestion.
  • Prevents constipation.
  • Reduces excess of mucus in the organism.
  • Frees the solar plexus from accumulated emotional tensions.
  • Quickly recharge the solar plexus and the entire organism in vital energy (Prana).


  • Lesions in the lungs.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Injury in the abdomen.


Are breathing exercices any good for the brain ?

Yes. Breathing exercises have a very beneficial influence for the brain because an important supply of oxygen is provided, particularly during the retention of the breath. Moreover, some techniques such as the alternate nostril breathing allow to balance both brain hemispheres, hence optimizing the practitioner's mental faculties.



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