Kumbhaka Pranayama: Steps, Precautions and Key benefits of Kumbhaka Pranayama
What is Kumbhaka?
Kumbhaka is the retentiveness of the breathing technique in the hatha yoga practice of pranayama. kumbhaka has two different variants, accompanied whether after inhalation or after exhalation and, the ultimate aim, unaccompanied. That state is kevala kumbhaka.
- you have to do preliminary conditioning in Sukhasana or any other meditative posture before starting.
- If you are not comfortable sitting on the floor, you can sit on a firm chair with an erect backrest.
- Keep your body above the waist straight and the spine erect and Keep your eyes closed.
Kumbhaka Pranayama Steps:
If anyone wants to perform Kumbhaka that requires the application of both the Jalandhara and the Mula Bandhas, in addition, the rib case gently “hugs” your lungs at first.
Sama Vritti Ujjayi (example, the vritti count is 6 OMs). To begin, you have to apply the two bandhas when you near the end of your inhale and retain the breath for 2 OMs( no more than that). then you slowly press your ribs against the expanded lungs. Then you exhale, concurrently releasing Mula Bandha, and when you finished, you can raise your head to neutral positions.
generally, your first Kumbhakas should be 1/3 to 1/2 the length of your Sama Vritti count. you should Practice at this level until you’re completely comfortable with it, which may take several weeks or longer even months.
Then you shorter the number of Ujjayis slowly between each Kumbhakas until you can retain your normal breathing from comfortably for 2 OMs. on sequential inhales for about 5 to 6 minutes. Then you have to increase your Kumbhakas to 3 OMs, but again you have to separate them by 2 to 3 Ujjayi's. Then again gradually bring down the Ujjayis count you can comfortably retain for 3 OMs on sequential inhales for about 5 minutes.
At last, you have to proceed methodically until your Kumbhaka count matches your Sama Vritti count or breathing. Now STOP the pranayama.
Kumbhaka Pranayama Benefits:
The practice of Kumbhaka Pranayama has four different parts, which include inhaling, retention, exhale, and retention, these parts can be done with breath counts to understand the entire process. Beginners to this kind of practice can start with 1+2+2+1 counts, progressing towards 1+4+2+2. when you followed these methods, the practice of Kumbhaka Pranayama comes with lots of benefits that explained below:
Awareness and Focus:
for the first time the very fact that one holds your breath, it adds tensions in the body but these tensions should not bring discomfort to your body. These tensions helps you to understand and aware of the changes that happening in your body as well as your mind. through practice this awareness, focus and understanding becomes easy and smooth, having a better control on your body and also your breathing technique.
Chest, Diaphragm, and Lungs:
Kumbhaka Pranayama impacts our lungs immediately, for this more air comes into our lungs as well as clearing the lungs completely. With Antara kumbhaka which means lungs are filled with air. that helps with a better supply of oxygen to the rest of the body, and with bahya kumbhaka the lungs prepare themselves to take in more oxygen with the next inhalation, thus increasing their capacity. This also makes our lungs clean and clear, throwing the impure air from our lungs.
Bandhas, Organs and Stimulation
When you practice Kumbhaka Pranayama along with Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, and Mula Bandha, the prana that remains still within the entire body helps to purify the various organs related to these bandhas, like your lungs, abdominal organs, and reproductive organs and many more. And when there is no prana in your body these organs get a fresh supply of energy, thus constantly freeing themselves of toxins
Calming and Soothing:
At the beginner level when you start the practice of Kumbhaka Pranayama under the guidance of a yoga teacher, you will notice a sense of calming and soothing feeling throughout the practice. This calming and soothing feeling is because of the nervous system that is affected by the slowing of the breath. which further keeps the blood pressure in control.
- you can Practice kumbhaka daily, five rounds with a pause in-between each round.
- you begin with a count of 5 seconds of inhalation and 10 seconds retention. then you can Gradually increase it by 1 sec/every week when practiced daily.
- Children who are under 12 years should not practice this kumbhaka pranayama.
- kumbhaka is not recommended in serious cardiac and hypertension cases.
Other breathing exercises:
Before attempting Kumbhaka pranayama in regular basic, some other pranayama exercises is recommended such as:
- Anuloma viloma: alternate nostril breathing
- Bhramari pranayama: humming bee breath
- Ujjayi: Victorious breath
- Bhastrika Pranayama: bellows breath