Kumbhaka Pranayama

Kumbhaka Pranayama – the control of prana through retention of the breath.

The perfection of Pranayama is from ‘Kumbhaka’. In Patanjali’s Yogasutra, Kumbhak has been described as Pranayama (Yogasutra 2.49). The real benefits of Pranayama come from Kumbhak only.

The importance of Kumbhak has also been told in Patanjali’s ‘Yogasutra’. While defining Pranayama, Maharishi Patanjali gives a formula: तस्मिन्सति श्वासप्रश्वायोर्गति विद्धः प्रणायामः.

That is, Pranayama is to stop (according to your ability) the spontaneous movement of the supplement and laxative of the breath.

Kumbhaka Pranayama

Kumbhaka is the central practice of traditional pranayama’s breathing exercises of Hatha yoga; there are two types of retention(Kumbhaka): after an inhale (Antara), and after an exhale (Bahya).

In the Antara Kumbhak, the breath is held for as long as possible by inhaling the air through the nostrils. After this, the breath is slowly released again. While in the Bahya Kumbhak, after exhaling the air, the breath is held for as long as possible and then slowly exhaled.

In Patanjali Yogasutra, three types of Kumbhaka have been mentioned.

  1. Bahya Kumbhaka:- Stopping the breath in the “Rechak position” is called Bahya Kumbhaka. That is, when we stop in the state of empty breath after exhaling, then it is external Kumbhaka. This is also known as Bahya Vriti Pranayama.
  2. Antara Kumbhaka:- Stopping the breath in a “Puraka position” is called internal Kumbhaka. That is, when we hold our breath inside, it is internal Kumbhaka. This position is also called Abhyantar Pranayama.
  3. Kaivalya Kumbhaka: – This is also called Stambhavriti. This is the third type of Kumbhaka. It seems effortless (without effort). This is a blissful state for the practitioner. It can be felt in both the condition of empty and full breath.

In the Sanskrit language, the pot of water is called Kumbh (“pot” or “vessel”).

Here in the definition of Kumbhaka, “body” has been compared to a pot (Kumbh). And “life force” has been compared to water. Just as a pot holds water, in the same way we can hold our life force with Kumbhaka.

How to do Kumbhak Pranayama?

Sitting position:- Sit in the position of Padmasana or Sukhasana. Keep the spine and neck straight. Keep both hands on the knees in Gyan Mudra. Close your eyes softly. Focus the attention on the breath.

The two main types of Kumbhak Pranayama that most yogis can practice are:

Internal Kumbhak: Slowly take a long deep breath. Supplement slow breathing. After filling the lungs completely, apply Moola Bandha. Tilting the neck forward, touch the chin to the throat. Stay for some time in the position of full breath (internal Kumbhak). Here, stop according to your ability.

External Kumbhaka: After stopping in the internal Kumbhak according to your capacity, straighten the neck. Exhale slowly. After exhaling completely, stay in the Rechak position for some time. This is the outer Kumbhaka. Also, apply Tribandha in the outer Kumbhaka. (Tribandha:- Mulabandha, Ujian Bandha and Jalandhar Bandha)

Mastery in Kumbhak Pranayama comes only when the practitioner is very comfortable with Ujjayi Pranayama, Anulom Vilom Pranayama, Kapalbhati Pranayama, and Bhastrika Pranayama.

Keep in mind that the frequencies of Kumbhaka should be 1-2-1 in the beginning. For example, if it takes one second to inhale, hold it in for two seconds and exhale for two seconds. Then gradually 1-2-2, 1-3-2, 1-4-2, and then as the practice increases, the duration of Kumbhak can be increased further.

Time duration

Kumbhaka pranayama can be practiced in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Kumbhaka can be practiced 8 times a day at every Prahar i.e. every 3 hours.

If Tribandha is also done along with Kumbhak Pranayama, then Kumbhak Pranayama gives 100 times more benefits.


Be sure to take precautions in Kumbhak Pranayama, otherwise, you may have to face problems.

  • First of all, make sure that before doing Kumbhak Pranayama, you must consult a yoga doctor or instructor.
  • If you are suffering from diseases like asthma or high blood pressure, do not do Kumbhak Pranayama even by mistake. This can prove to be dangerous for you.
  • If you are new to yoga practice then you should not do Kumbhaka in the beginning.
  • First of all, you should practice Purak and Rechak in a proper way, and even after that try to do Kumbhaka Pranayama.
  • Stop breathing according to your ability. Do not use unnecessary force to stop breathing. New practitioners should apply Kumbhak for a short time in the beginning. Gradually increase its time.


There are 3 stages of breathing in Pranayama:- Purak, Rechak, and Kumbhaka.

There are 3 types of Kumbhaka: Internal, External, and Kaivalya Kumbhaka.

Kumbhaka pranayama is a type of yogic breathing exercise in which the breath is kept by pulling it in or leaving it out.


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The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional