Also known as skull shining breath, this rapid, forceful exhalation through the nose is rapidly warming and energizing and helps to develop core connection, strength and discrimination. The exhale is driven by contracting the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) with the transverse abdominus (TA) pelvic floor muscles- the muscle across the front of your low belly between your hip bones. Then the inhale happens passively with a brief relaxation of the same. Start slowly and move more rapidly as you feel able.

transverse abdominus in quaraped - same location in bipedsThe warming core connection makes this the perfect breath for your Early Winter Healing Yoga morning practice. After an active morning practice including Savasana, sit in a comfortable cross legged or other seat. Start with 3 rounds of 10 and add on gradually until you're enjoying 3 rounds of 50. Rest in natural breath observation in between.

When you have the hang of it, try it in Fierce Pose (Utkatasana) and Low or Half Squat (Malasana). You can use it to stay warm when outside, to wake up if you're up late or early, to increase focus and concentration.

The PFM and TA form what I like to call the "bathtub floor" of our bodies. You have to use a little imagination because I wasn't able to find a picture to license of a biped, but the location is similar. A bathtub floor is when the thick, waterproof material forming the floor of a tent actually comes up its sides 3 or more inches before there's a seam - so that if there were rain, the inside of the floor would remain even with standing water. The integration in the human body means that if you lift your PFMs, you're very likely to compress the TA - and visa versa. So we can use one to learn to sense and intentionally move the other. Sometimes it's difficult to feel the PFMs and to intentionally contract and release them, in which case focus on the low TA can be our training wheels.

Do you practice kapalabhati in the winter? How does it feel to you?