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YOGA INFORMATION ARTICLES
Breathing Exercise (Pranayama) - Techniques to Prolong Pauses
(Bandhas)
Breathing is the source of life. This is the basic reason why ancient Yogis developed different Breathing Techniques, from
Beginner or Basic to Advanced Breathing Techniques. These Breathing Techniques or Pranayamas are designed to allow the free
flow of energy in the body and to purify the body's energy channels called nadis. The practice of Pranayama also ensures that
every cell in the body receives oxygen and nutrients.
The Practice of Bandhas

Breathing is divided into Four Stages:
1. Inhalation or Puraka
2. Full Pause or Abhyantara Kumbhaka (Pause After Inhaling) Full Pause
3. Exhalation or Rechaka
4. Empty Pause or Bahya Kumbhaka (Pause After Exhaling)

Full pause is the deliberate stoppage of the flow of air and retaining air in the lungs. This happens without any movement of
lungs or any part of the body. Empty Pause, on the other hand, is deliberately prolonged and completes the breathing cycle
which terminates as the pause ends and inhalation begins. Traditional techniques or Techniques are formulated in order to
prolong these pauses. These involves intentional attempts to block breathing passages in such a way that air does not escape
when the chest and abdominal muscles become relaxed. These aids are called Bandhas. Bhand is a Sanskrit word related to the
English words "band", "bind", "bond" and "bound". Each of the Bandha employed for prolonging Breathing Pauses binds air in our
lungs or locks the air channels so that air cannot escape or enter.

The parts of the body that are mainly involved in the Bandhas are:
1. lips and palate
2. glottis
3. chin, and
4. diapraghm

The first two are more important in prolonging Full Pauses while the last two are basically more important for Empty Pauses.

The following are the Four Important Bandhas:
Bandha involving Lips and Palate

This technique is used by swimmers. In this Bandha, you close your lips tightly so no air can escape through the mouth.
Pressing the lips against the teeth may aid in tightening them. If your nostrils are clear, simply lift your soft palate
against the roof of your pharynx and close the passage into the nostrils. This may be done deliberately or you may learn
to allow this to happen automatically after some training. A little air pressure from your lungs may aid in holding the
palate in such a closed position.
Bandha involving Glottis

You can prevent air from leaving your lungs by closing your glottis. Your glottis closes automatically when you
swallow. All you need to do is to stop your swallowing movements at that point where your trachea is closed. This
may be difficult to do at first, since an automatic reflex pattern has been built into your autonomic nervous
mechanisms. But a little effort in trying to attain voluntary control over your involuntary processes should give you
mastery of this technique. Of course, you may combine both the lips and the palate closure with the glottis closure to
produce a still, tighter lock.
Bandha involving Chin - Jalandhara Bandha

The Jalandhara Bandha or "chin lock" is done by pressing the chin close to the chest and dropping the head to help in
maintaining immobility of muscle and air movements. This position is very useful in holding an Empty Pause. The
pressure of the chin against the chest pushes the base of the tongue and the larynx up into the pharynx and against the
palate, thus providing aid in resisting the pressure caused by the vacuum in the lungs.
Bandha Involving Diaphragm - Uddiyana Bandha

The fourth Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, involves raising the diaphragm and keeping it immobile during an empty pause.
The abdomen must be drawn in and up as far as possible. Expel all air before using this Bandha. In order to attain
complete control and more comfort, you may put forth some effort in one or more mock inhalations without admitting
any air before assuming the fullest possible relaxation during this pause. You may combine both chin lock and raised
diaphragm techniques in retaining an empty pause. Both of these techniques can be employed in either a standing or
sitting position and they are commonly employed together during sitting postures.

These two Bandhas appear to serve as strenuous and circulation-stimulating exercises rather than muscle- and will
quieting attitudes, though they do aid a person in attaining thorough mastery over his Respiration cycle. Prolonging the
duration of a pause requires caution, patience and practice. Gradually lengthen the length of the pause by counting.
You may use your fingers to count the duration of a pause. After each successive pause, add one pause to the rest. If
you try to attain a prolonged pause on your first attempt, you are very likely to overdo it, suffer some discomfort and
feel no beneficial or restful effects. When you feel the need to exert effort in order to hold a pause longer after doing a
series of increasingly extended pauses, stop immediately. By constant practice, you can observe a gradual increase in
the length of the pauses which may be held with comfort. Practice can be done either once a day or several times a
day. The progress you make is mainly an individual matter. Some can do this much easier than the others.
The Benefits of Kevala Kumbhaka

Kevala Kumbhaka (perfectly peaceful pause) involves not only complete cessation of movement of air and muscles, but also the
awareness of all such movements and tendencies. The state experienced is one complete rest. Urgency, interest, motive, will,
desire, and other negative emotions all disappear momentarily along with the disappearance of specific interests and anxieties,
such as those of hatred, fear, ambition, love, hunger and thirst. You will also feel detached from tendencies such as hating
specific tasks, fearing a particular person or demanding specific rights, or to zealously force oneself or others to attain indicated
goals. During such a peaceful pause, perfect quiescence is experienced. For anyone writhing under the pressures of multiple
anxieties, the experience of the utter peacefulness of Kevala Kumbhaka, provides a very restful and blissful moment.

The experience of Kevala Kumbhaka helps in retarding progressive over-anxiety that is common in our society. Suicides and
suicidal tendencies, which result from the development of unbearable anxieties, may be retarded and prevented by sufficiently
assiduous practice of Yoga. The automatic mechanisms which spontaneously induce inhaling and exhaling, as well as heartbeats,
hunger and thirst, can be modified and inhibited for short periods.

The experience of Kevala Kumbhaka is self-terminating and, in spite of some slight reversal of anxious tendencies, one is soon
again immersed in the more usual anxieties. The experience must be repeated again and again, and even then, although it may
aid in temporary reversal, it cannot be expected to overcome or counteract the much more powerful drives which nature,
culture and individual ambitions have established so deeply within us. Yet, its pacifying effects should not be overlooked by
anyone who has become over-ambitious and overanxious.

The power of Kevala Kumbhaka and the Breathing Exercises are effectively tapped by combining it with the benefits of
undertaking the other elements of Yoga such as Asanas. Although breathing can be undertaken independently from Asanas and
vice versa, the combination is many times more effective than doing each separately. The beauty of this technique is that it is
available to everyone - regardless of age, sex, occupation, religion or kind of ambition. It may be convenient to do this in the
morning and evening. You can also do this at your place of work. Performing it is more relaxing than going for a cup of coffee,
going to the water cooler, or going for a smoke.





Warning: Yoga Breathing Exercise or Pranayama are very powerful exercises. Many people experience dizziness or loose
consciousness while practicing Beginner or Advanced Breathing Techniques. Practice all Breathing Exercises slowly and
controlled. Perhaps ask a friend to stay with you when trying out a new Breathing Technique. In addition, you can also sign up
for some Breathing or Yoga Classes and practice under supervision of an expert.

The article was contributed by: http://www.holistic-online.com/Yoga/hol_yoga_breathing_4stages.htm#Kevalakumbhaka.
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ARTICLE COMMENTS
Saturday 7th August 2004 at 1:12:06 PM

Profile Pictures Reply Quote

I find it is easier and more peaceful to perform uddiyana lock after asanas, when I am in relaxation
dopiotogo
Rank: Beginner
#Posts: 0 #Points:0
pose and on my back...I can slow my breathing down and hold longer, then after I can relax into
shavansana

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