Breath Retention – Bahya Kumbhaka or Sahaja (or sahata) Kumbhaka
Kumbhaka, breath retention or holding breath is my favorite breathing exercise. It is well known across many doctrines over the world. I will discuss it later in other articles. Holding the breath has great benefit to our life. How is yoga treating Breath retention? There are four types of breath retentions/Kumbhaka. Let’s go to analyze these exercises.
How holding breathe affects our health
- Energizes our body
- Stimulates the central nervous system
- Your memory may improve
- Concentration is better
- If you hear ringing in your ears (tinnitus), this exercise might be helpful
Four types of Kumbhaka
In general, Kumbhaka is breath retention between inhalation and exhalation. Depending on when you hold the breath, we recognize four types of Kumbhaka.
- Antar Kumbhaka – when inhalation is complete and lungs are full
- Bahya Kumbhaka – when exhalation is complete and lungs are empty
- Sahita Kumbhaka – combination with other pranayama exercises (it is not the point of this article)
- Kevali Kumbhaka – highest level of Kumbhaka. You can hold the breath anytime. Independently of your inhalation or exhalation. On this level, you are united with the universe.
How to make Kumbhaka
In this article, we are going to describe only two types of Kumbhaka. It is Antar Kumbhaka and Bahya Kumbhaka. As a first master the Antara Kumbhaka. When you hold the breath for 20-30 secs comfortably, then go to exercise Bahya Kumbhaka. When you do this exercise let your lungs, body and nervous system calm along several breaths.
- Sit in the proper and comfortable position
- Concentrate on your breathing without any changing in your breath
- After a while, at the end of exhalation hold your breath for a while
- Start to breathe normally and wait while your breath is on normal level
- Then start to inhale and after several breaths hold your breath for a while longer
- If you feel uncomfortable (dizzy, lightheaded, you are easily tired). Stop this exercise and try again later or next day.