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Breath Retention

Kumbhaka Pranayama

(kuhm-BAH-kah)
kumbha = pot (a traditional image of the human torso as a container for the breath with two "openings" at the throat and base of the pelvis)
antara (ahn-TAH-rah) = interior
bahya (BAH-yah) = outer


Step by Step

Antara Kumbhaka requires the application of both Jalandhara and Mula Bandhas; in addition the rib case gently "hugs" the lungs.

Establish Sama Vritti Ujjayi (and for this example, the vritti count is 6 OMs). To begin, apply the two bandhas as you near the end of your inhale, and retain the breath for 2 OMs, no more. Gently squeeze the ribs against the expanded lungs. Then exhale, concurrently releasing Mula Bandha and, when finished, raise your head to neutral. DON'T perform Kumbhaka on successive breaths; take 2 to 3 Ujjayi breaths before the next retention.

In general your first Kumbhakas should be one-third to one-half the length of your Sama Vritti count. Practice at this level until you're completely comfortable, which may take several weeks or longer.

Then gradually reduce the number of Ujjayis between Kumbhakas until you can comfortably retain your breath for 2 OMs on successive inhales for about 5 minutes. Next increase your Kumbhaka to 3 OMs, but again separate them by 2 to 3 Ujjayis. Again gradually reduce the Ujjayis until you can comfortably retain for 3 OMs on successive inhales for 5 minutes.

Proceed methodically until your Kumbhaka count matches your Sama Vritti count. Now STOP. Don't go any further without direct guidance from an experienced teacher.

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Reader Comments

Rena

This entry refers to Sama Vritti Ujjayi and the vritti count of OMs, but never explains what those terms mean, or how to use them as the basis for kumbhaka pranayama practice. It would be helpful if the instructions could be rewritten to include the missing foundational information.

kamala

a pregent women should not perform this pranayama . she can do flow pranayamas it should be smoothly bretah in and out
no basth\rika, kalap barstrhi only anulom aviloam , sheetali shitakari , ujjaji , omkar chanting , and also meditation sukshma pranayamalaso she can do and also yoga nidra ......

Sunny

Sarah-I don't think it's so much as it takes away oxygen from the baby, it's that because of having a baby inside of her, her organs are all already squished together and breathing can be difficult enough as it is...

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