Igniting the Creative Spark with Yoga: Skull Shining Breath

Kapalabhati: Skull Shining Breath for Creativity

KapalabhatiBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

What is Kapalabhati and how does it help Yoga practitioners? A regular Yoga practice can greatly enhance your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Yoga practices can be very invigorating and physically challenging, or deeply relaxing and restorative. On a particular day, you may wish to create a quiet and relaxed sense of well-being through your practice. On other days, you may prefer to increase the flow of energy and creativity throughout your body and mind. Creativity, and the energy to bring your creative endeavors to fruition, is often dampened by a tamasic or heavy, lethargic state of being.


Including pranayama exercises into your Yoga practice will clear your mind of unnecessary thoughts and revitalize your entire body with an immediate flow of fresh oxygen and nutrients. Skull Shining Breath, also known as Kapalabhati Pranayama, is one of the most effective pranayama techniques for igniting the creative spark and clearing out all of your “mental cobwebs.” Kapalabhati Pranayama is often engaged in at the beginning of a Yoga class, in order to energize the body and focus the mind for the practice ahead.


* Skull Shining Breath

The practice of Kapalabhati or Skull Shining Breath consists of repeated rounds of forceful exhalations; followed by passive, smooth inhalations. The intense nature of the exhale portion of Skull Shining Breath is generated by forceful contractions of the lower abdominal area. The passive, fluid inhales naturally follow the expulsion of air. To practice Skull Shining Breath, sit on your Yoga mat in Easy Seat.


Take a few, deep complete breaths. With your next exhale; forcefully push the air out of your lungs by contracting your lower abdominal area just below your belly button. If this practice is new to you, you may wish to place your hands on your lower abdominal area so that you can get a sense of the movement of those muscles. After you forcefully expel the air, allow your lungs to passively fill-up with fresh oxygen.


Each exhale and inhale should last only a second or two. If you are just beginning a practice of Skull Shining Breath, start with two to three rounds of 30 cycles of breath, pausing for one or two “regular” breaths between rounds. In order to really ignite the creative spark, you may wish to work up to double or triple the amount of cycles you practice in each Yoga session. When you have finished practicing Kapalabhati Pranayama, pause for a moment and enjoy the intense pulsation of prana, mental clarity and creative energy that this pranayama exercise generates.


© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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