Kumbhaka Pranayama – Breath Retention

Kumbhaka Pranayama – Breath Retention

Kumbhaka Pranayama is derived from the combination of the Sanskrit words Kumbhaka(Pot is the direct translation. But, often referred as holding the breath or retention) andPranayama (Breath or breathing technique). It is called as Breath Retentionin English.

Kumbhaka means a state where there is no inhalation or exaltation, the pause between an inhale and exhale.

Our breathing process has 3 major parts. There are inhale, pause and exhale. Kumbhaka Pranayama has 4 different types, such as AntarKumbhaka, BahyaKumbhaka, SahitKumbhaka and KevaliKumbhaka.Here Antara means interior/inner and Bahya means exterior/outer.


  1. Start with sitting on the yoga mat in the comfotable position.
  2. Antara(interior/inner ) Kumbhaka needs the application of MulaBandha and Jalandhara, in addition the rib case hugs the lungsvery gently.
  3. Now establish the SamaVrittiUjjayi.
  4. Note: You can use this example – the vritti count is 6 OMs.
  5. To start, you have to apply the two bandhas as you near the end of your inhale.
  6. Note: You have to retain the breath for exactly 2 OMs.
  7. Now squeeze your ribs against the expanded lungs gently.
  8. Exhale;
  9. At the same time release the MulaBandha.
  10. After that, raise the head to neutral.
  11. Note: Please do not perform the kumbhaka on the successive breaths;
  12. Before the next retention take at least two to three Ujjayi breaths.
  13. Actually the 1stKumbhakas should be one-third to one-half the length of your SamaVritti count.
  14. Until you are completely comfortable, repeat the practise in this level.
  15. Note: It would take many weeks.
  16. You can reduce the number of Ujjayis between Kumbhakas gradually.
  17. Note: Retain the breath for 2 OMs on successive inhales for five minutes, until you are comfortable.
  18. Now try to increase the Kumbhaka to 3 OMs, separate them by two to three Ujjayis again.
  19. Note: Retain the breath for 3 OMs on successive inhales for five minutes, until you are comfortable
  20. Practise with the same logic until the Kumbhaka count matches with SamaVritti count.
  21. NOW STOP.
  22. It is must to get direct guidance from the expert to go any further.


  • Regulates the breathing.
  • Increases the awareness inward. This means awareness toward the Self.
  • Calms the mind.
  • Energies the body.
  • Regular practise can cure the breathing related problems.
  • By decreasing the respiratory, it helps to prevent aging(Though not proved scientifically)
  • From Antara(Inhaled breath), extracts the maximum energy.


People with the following problem please avoid practising this Pranayama, or practise under the expert’s supervisions and doctor’s advice.

  • High blood pressure

Practise this Pranayamadaily, will yield the better results.

It’s good to do this Pranayamain the morning with empty stomach.