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Susan Swan Yoga


Based on teachings by the late Dr B P Pillai

Director of the Institute of Yogic Culture, Trivandum, S India

W​atc​h my 3 part Video Playlist demonstrating this Kriyas practice in detail.    

These four Kriyas will cleanse and stimulate the internal organs of the body.  I learned them during my Yoga Therapy Training with the Scottish School of Yoga Therapy.  We were instructed to practice these every day to boost/balance immunity and digestion.  I have been practising them since and can vouch for their efficacy. 

Kapalabhati (meaning 'shining skull') cleanses the sinuses

Brahmamudra boosts the immune system, cleanses the respiratory tract and relaxes tension around the neck. 

Agnisara and Tharangaka stimulate the stomach, duodenum, small intestine and large intestine.  They also help with assimilaton, elimination and release of trapped gas.

These exercises are best practised in the morning, preferrably sitting cross legged if possible, seated on a block or bolster if required. They can be practised from a dining chair if required.   


  1. This is practised with alternate nostrils.  Use the thumb of the right hand to close the right nostril and the ring finger to close the left.  Pumping the breath out with some force and allowing the inhalation to be more passive.  Start by blocking the right nostril and exhale/inhale through left nostril, retain the breath closing both nostrils for 2 seconds, then exhale/inhale through right nostril and retain as above for 2 seconds.  Repeat for around a minute. 
  2. Repeat step one, reducing the retention between nostrils from 2 seconds to 1, again for around a minute.  Next, repeat this step once more, this time with no retention, just pumping the breath on one nostril and moving directly to the other.  Once you become familiar with this action, you may be able to start with one second on each side and gradually speed up as fast as possible, then slow it back down again. 
  3. Using the right hand again to close off alternate nostrils and with a gentle throaty breath:  Inhale through left nostril for 2 seconds, retain for 2 seconds, exhale through right nostril for 2 seconds, inhale right for 2 seconds, retain for 2 seconds and exhale through left nostril for 2 seconds.  Repeat for several rounds.  Next increase the inhale and exhale to 3 seconds but maintain the retention for 2 seconds.  Lastly, increase the inhale/exhale to 4 seconds.


  1. Turn your head to the right, syncronising with your exhale making a sound like a whispering roar 'oooo-aaaaah' sound gradually opening the mouth as wide as possible.  Turn the head back to the centre with a throaty whispering 'uuummm' sound, syncronising the movement with the inhale.  Repeat this to the left side.  Continue about 5 - 10 times. 
  2. Similar to above except the head rolls round in a half circle on the exhale and is brought straight down to the chest on the inhale.  This means you are making an infinity / sideways no. 8 shape with your head. 

Agnisara Kriya

Agni is the digestive fire and this practice stimulates and balances it.  Practise this with crossed legs if possible and lean forwards slightly.  

  1. Exhale for 4 seconds and draw in the upper portion of the abdomen (above the navel) towards the spine, breathe in counting to 4 and allowing the abdomen to resume original position.  Repeat several times.
  2. Repeat, reducing the length of the inhalation/exhalation to 2 seconds; further reduce to 1 second.  
  3. Spead up further if possible, pumping the upper abdomen and retaining a rhythm - don't worry if you can't go any faster than 1 second. 
  4. Next, exhale for 4 seconds drawing the entire abdomen (above and below the navel) in towards the spine.  Without pausing inhale quickly and allow the abdomen to relax quickly forwards and down (you can sniff the inhale sharply if you like).  Repeat 3 times, building up to 5 and then to 10 times. 
  5. This is a bit like circling with a 'hula hoop' but remaining seated.  Begin circling anti-clockwise:  breathe in, then as you exhale lean back and take a slight side-bend to the left in the mid spine; pull the entire abdomen in with concave spine and feel the intestines being massaged.  As you slowly move your mid spine from left to right, start taking a side-bend to the side.  Begin the inhale and start to relax the abdomen forward and down, arching the mid spine forward (convex) and back towards the left side.  Repeat up to 10 times then repeat clockwise.

Tharangaka (that which makes waves)

Sit cross legged (or on a dining chair) and lean forward slightly.  This begins as a 4 part discreet movement but will eventually evolve into a smooth rippling movement.  

Think of the upper abdomen as the area above the navel and the lower as the area below.  Inhale to begin then repeat the following several times. 

  1. Exhale half way drawing the upper abdomen in towards the spine.
  2. Continue exhaling drawing in the lower abdomen so entire abdomen is pulled towards spine.
  3. Inhale half way as you release the upper abdomen back out to its original position.
  4. Continue inhaling and allow the lower abdomen to resume position.