Breath retention is an interesting concept in yoga. The first time I really played around with it was during a power yoga class a couple years ago. During that time, I had no idea what I was doing. I was still in my “do I really need this savasana stuff?” So needless to say, I didn’t fully understand what was going on. I found this …
There are three stages of yoga breathing process…
Inhalation which is called (puraka), fills the lungs with air and stimulates the whole body.
Retention, is called (kumbhaka) during retention the bodies temperature is raised and the oxygen is absorbed.
Exhalation, is called (rechaka) here the diaphragm is returned to its original position and toxic air is released into the atmosphere.
The pause between the inhale and the exhale is significant. It is helping to give the alveoli of the lungs an extra moment or two for absorption of oxygen. I’m cool with that. Anything that can help my muscles function and recover quicker. Check out the meditation below. Thanks for reading!
Lingering in the Pause
With your inhalation and exhalation even, you are practicing a simple ratio – say, 8 to 8, if you’re breathing in to a count of eight and out to a count of eight. Let’s add a slight pause at the top and bottom of inhalation. It’s not a forced holding of the breath; consider it instead a rest in the liminal space, the transition between the two energies of inhalation and exhalation. Think of the moment after a wave has lapped on the shore and before it begins to recede. Breathe in for your count of eight, and pause again for one beat. This gives you the ratio of 8 to 1 to 8 to 1.
Notice the energy of the pause. Is it linear? Is it evident at all? Can you relax as you pause? With time and practice, you can lengthen the pauses, but don’t overdo the breath retention.
BOOK – “The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga” by Sage Rountree.