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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
Kumbhaka Pranayama 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.