An example personal practice from 2002 from TKV Desikachar……


Reflecting on yesterdays post I wanted to offer a re-post from early 2014 with a further example of a practice given to me by TKV Desikachar. It evolved from within our one to one lessons in Chennai, from 14 years ago, in 2002 and is based around:

  1. Kapālabhāti Kriyā 48 breaths
  2.  Sūrya Bhedana Prāṇāyāma 12 breaths
    10″ Antar Kumbhaka and 10″ Bāhya Kumbhaka
  3. Kapālabhāti Kriyā 48 breaths
  4. Sūrya Bhedana Prāṇāyāma 12 breaths
    20″ Antar Kumbhaka
  5. Bhāradvājāsana
    Stay 12 breaths each side
    10″ Bāhya Kumbhaka
  6. Apānāsana and Ūrdhva Prasṛta Pādāsana
    10″ Bāhya Kumbhaka and 10″ Antar Kumbhaka
    Aṅga Lāghava Dynamic combination 12 times
  7. Candra Bhedana Prāṇāyāma 24 breaths

Though obviously relevant to my personal situation as a mid fifties bloke, at that time and place, it is a further illustration of how Antar Kumbhaka (AK) and Bāhya Kumbhaka (BK) can be employed whatever the Āsana or techniques chosen.

Plus, seeing this contrasting practice from yesterdays post, which range over two decades from 1980 to 2002, illustrates the importance of Kumbhaka with its consistent and ongoing emphasis in the Yoga teachings of T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar.

The viniyoga or application of Kumbhaka remains a potential as an inherent element within the evolution and sustaining of our practice vitality, as well as a primary developmental aspect of our personal Sādhana within Āsana, and especially Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma.

These two example practices do not specifically illustrate the role and place of Mahā Mudrā, often a separate linked personal project due to the complexity of the Vinyāsa Krama for the breath ratios as well as being linked to the Tri Bandha.

They do emphasis the consistent emphasis and importance of Prāṇāyāma being a practice to be neither neglected nor forsaken for a few ‘extra’ Āsana, or for the ‘excuse’ of not enough time, all personifications of Citta over Cit.

Regarding Prāṇāyāma, the way I was taught is that our choices of ratio within Prāṇāyāma are also informed by the reality of what is possible with the breath within Āsana. There were even formula devised by Krishnamacharya to guide the conversion of breathing patterns in Āsana to breathing patterns in Prāṇāyāma. Such was his understanding of the breath, especially the Kumbhaka.

One other important dimension in the application of Kumbhaka within Āsana and Prāṇāyāma is the development of the Kumbhaka in Mudrā, especially Mahā Mudrā with the incorporation of the Tri Bandha.

For example before being taught Uḍḍīyāna Bandha, the essential precursor to Mūla Bandha, I needed to be competent in sustaining a crown in Prāṇāyāma, within a Vinyāsa Krama leading to a ratio of with the Pūraka, Antar KumbhakaRecaka and Bāhya Kumbhaka each set at 12″, thus a crown of for 12 breaths.

Thus a peak of almost 10′ sustaining the crown ratio within a Prāṇāyāma practice, the entire practice itself totalling around 20′ and all performed with one technique, Nāḍī Śodhana, already in itself a demanding technique to sustain with an inaudible softness, as if pouring oil slowly and smoothly and an almost undetectable deftness of finger movement around the channels.

A further example of how there needs to be effort at working with the Kumbhaka and how our fluency with all four components of the breath sets a practice direction and evolution in that, amongst other things, it determines our readiness to incorporate the Tri Bandha into our Sādhana.

Finally I would re-emphasise some earlier posts from quotes from TKV Desikachar on the topic of Kumbhaka:

“A person who does not have a conscious feeling of the Recaka and Pūraka
should not go into Kumbhaka.”

– TKV Desikachar December 1987

“Investigate the use of Kumbhaka and
only use it when it helps you be with the breath.”

– TKV Desikachar 30th June 1978

“Do not make a style or fashion out of Kumbhaka.
Only use it if it helps you feel the breath
and what is happening inside the body.”
– TKV Desikachar 30th June 1978

Download this post as a PDF

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.