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Fast Belly Breathing
(also known as kapalabhati breath)

Why Do It?

Fast Belly Breathing as an Alternative to Caffeine

          When your energy is starting to flag and you’re thinking about having another cup of coffee, consider doing some fast belly breathing instead.  A few rounds of this breathing technique will wake up your mind and energize your whole body – and without taxing your adrenals or wearing down your nervous system. 

Fast Belly (Kapalabhati) Breathing as a Natural Relaxant

          When you’re feeling stressed out, fast belly breathing can help you de-stress.  It’s especially good at relieving the tension that accumulates in your chest and makes it harder for you to breathe. 

Fast Belly Breathing as a Natural Decongestant

          When your sinuses are clogged, fast belly breathing can help to clear them out so you can breath more easily and efficiently.

Fast Belly Breathing as a Natural Laxative

          And if you’re just a little constipated, fast belly breathing can help to move things along. 

What is Fast Belly (Kapalabhati) Breathing?

          Fast belly breathing involves taking short rapid breaths through your nose, with an emphasis on the exhalation.  When you exhale, you push the air out forcefully by pulling  your belly in, and then you allow the inhalation to happen on its own, without effort.

How is it Done?

Preparing for Fast Belly Breathing

          To prepare for fast belly breathing, place your hands on your belly and take a couple of slow deep breaths in and out, feeling the movement of your belly as it rises with each inhalation and falls with each exhalation.  Be sure to keep your mouth closed the whole time so that you’re both inhaling and exhaling through your nose.

One Round of Fast Belly Breathing

          Keeping your mouth closed, inhale deeply expanding your belly, and then quickly pull your belly in, pushing the air out.  Let the air flow back in, and again pull in the belly, pushing the air out. Let the air flow back in, and again pull in the belly, pushing the air out.  Let the air flow back in, and again pull in the belly, pushing the air out.
Do that four more times – for a total of eight breaths in a row – and then take a slow deep breath in and out.

          That’s one round of fast belly breathing. 

          Try doing 4 rounds in a row and see how you feel.

More Advanced Fast Belly Breathing

Increasing Speed

          When you’re first learning fast belly breathing, you’ll probably do it more slowly (about 1 inhalation/exhalation per second).  With practice you’ll be able to speed it up considerably. 

Increasing Duration

          Also with practice, you can increase the number of rounds you do before taking a slow deep breath.  I (Jan) like to do fast belly breathing in the morning to help wake me up.  I do 8 rounds in a row, take a couple of deep breaths, and then repeat that pattern 3 more times. 

A Note of Caution

          Fast Belly breathing is different than the other breathing exercises on the site in that it is not silent.  The forced exhalations are a bit noisy.  So unless the people around you know what you’re doing (or choose to do it with you), you may want privacy when you use it.

          If you would like to be guided through it, you can find an audio version of Fast Belly breathing here.