Nadi Shodhana - Antar and Bahir Kumbhaka

Nadi Shodhana - technique 4

Internal and external retention of breath

Please note that this practice should only be practiced if you have mastered techniques 1 - 3 details of which can be found in my earlier post on the subject.

As the name suggests you retain your breath on the inhalation as in technique three Antar Kumbhaka but now you are adding a retention on the exhalation (Bahir Kumbhaka) If you can do Anatar Kumbhaka then you shouldn't find this too difficult.

Ratio and timing

Start with a ratio of 1:4:2:2

Inhale: Internal retention: exhale: external retention

Slowly increase the exhalation 1 count at a time. For example from 5 to 6 and then 6 to 7.

Adjust the duration of your exhalation and retention as you go.

Do not increase your inhalation until you are comfortable exhaling and retaining the breath.

I will use the starting ratio of 1:4:2:2 for this description

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight

  • Inhale through the left nostril (1 count)

  • Hold the air inside your lungs as described in the Antar Kembhaka technique (4 counts)

  • Exhale through the right nostril (2 counts) Try to empty your lungs as much as possibly without straining

  • Close both nostrils and hold the breath out (2 counts)

  • You might feel a contraction in your throat (glottis)

  • Your now going to inhale slowly through the right nostril but before you do you need to exhale slightly through the right nostril. (This will help to release the locks that the retention has caused on your glottis and lungs)

  • Inhale slowly through the right nostril (1 count)

  • Hold the breath inside (4 counts)

  • Exhale through the left nostril (2 counts)

  • Hold the breath out with both nostrils closed (2 counts)

  • Remember that you need to exhale slightly through the right nostril before you breath in to release the lock caused by holding your breath out of your lungs.

This is one round

The practice of paranyama is best done early in the morning after your asanas and before your meditation.

Benefits include

  • Nourishment for the whole body

  • Purification of blood

  • Detoxification

  • Increased concentration and clarity

  • Lowered stress and anxiety

  • Increased vitality

  • Removal of pranic (energetic) blockages

  • Balancing of ida and pingala (energetic pathways throughout the body)

  • Increased flow of energy through Sushumna (the energetic highway along the spine that links the nadis and the chakras

  • Improves meditation

A big thank you to Swami Satyananada Saraswati and the book "Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha" for the invaluable imformation on this subject.

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