This is a pretty niche video post — partly because it’s a question that I found really hard to find an answer for a few years ago. There seemed to be a lot of confusion between what the difference actually was between these two yogic breathing exercises — Kapalbhati and Bhastrika. Here I outline the main differences, explain what these yogic breathing exercises are for and show you how to practise them.
In a nutshell — what’s the difference between Kapalbhati and Bhastrika?
The main obvious difference between Kapalbhati and Bhastrika is Kapalbhati emphasises the exhalation and Bhastrika breath emphasises both the inhalation and exhalation.
Another difference is that Kapalbhati, according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika is technically one of the six kriyas, and Bhastrika breath is a pranayama exercise.
How I was introduced to both these yogic breathing exercises
I was first introduced to Kapalbhati in a Sivananda Meenakshi ashram in Tamil Nadu, India in 2011 and went onto practise it regularly before switching to Bhastrika breath just over a year ago, during my three month trip to Rishikesh to complete my 500 hour yoga teacher training.
I now practise Bhastrika breath along with the Wim Hof power breath as my main morning breathing exercises and love that both these practises give me so much energy.
Please, however, listen to your body. If either of these practices don’t feel right, then stop. Bhastrika pranayama is an advanced practice and perhaps not suitable for everyone.
In case you’re wondering what the Wim Hof power breath is — here’s a short explanation (my first attempt at a YouTube video!).
The version of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika I mention in the video is by Swami Vishnudevananda, but any copy of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika will outline how to practise both Kapalbhati and Bhastrika breath.
Finally, I’d like to add that with all yogic practices, sometimes things are practised in different ways depending on which school of thought you’re adhering to. If you practice these exercises differently or you’d like to add to what I’ve written, I’d love to hear your thoughts.