ASHTANGA VINYASA YOGA, VINYASA KRAMA and the Sri T. Krishnamacharya Tradition BLOG-POST5 / KUMBHAKA - in Sri Sribhashyams teachings

27-04-2021-2 – FULLMOON DAY

TODAY is a FULL-MOON-DAY, where Sri Sribhashyam recommmended a special Pranayama Session. In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga nowadays,  we have a day off – at least for westerners – as I can not imagine, any indian person taking this seriously as a day off – I guess there is no one who is not doing his/her prayer, puja, Pranayama –any  spiritual practice.
In the beginning, when I practiced with my teacher Rolf Naujocat -  a early and certified student of Pattabhi Jois – we did soft practice – that was recommended – and soft practice was – no backbends - “Just” Primary Series. Anyway –

The moon-sessions in Sri Sribhashyams book are wonderful – even we never practiced them when there has been a moon-day in the seminars.
He would do special practices – but never alike the ones shown in the book.

The theme of moondays could be an other blog subject!

Today I continue the essay about Kumbhaka – which I started that 2 days before – as the Kumbhakas are given quite frequently in the practice. So, what is Kumbhaka and what is it helping for – what did it teach me in pranayama and in asana?


I wrote at 25-4-2021
 ... may be better to  write more like - out of the moment. There would be so many themes – going along with the current project of Anthony Grimmly - @reemergenceofyoga – keeping on the daily schedule of practicing everyday a new practice-sheed in the book of Sri Srbhashyam -

I feel -   at the moment, according to my live - I can give just some inspirational ideas.


When we go on with Sri Sribhashyams sessions there is Kumbhaka introduced - kind of quite early  – and I like to shed light on this precious subject  - which is also on first sight - asthonishing - how easy we can reach out to the non-material plane! 
When I did Pranayama the first and only time with Sharath Jois – this was in London 2015, after a week of Led 2nd Series, he would sort some people out, who “were not ready for it” - and then start with the Ashtanga Pranayama, which goes 1st round INHALE and ANTARA KUMBHAKA may be 25 or 30 sec - -  the 2nd round with Bahya Kumbhaka 15 or 20 sec and the  3rd round the 2 are combined with Kumbhaka after inhalation and exhalation in a ratio of 30/20 seconds. Sharath was sitting there with his mobile and have the timer on.  He shortly introduced Bandha, that the lower abdomen always is kept in (he said at another conference,  the Bhanda is 4 inches (note that -  not 4 cm) below the navel! – and that we hold all the 3 Bhandas while  Antara Kumbhaka. He showed us some rounds and we started
J can you imagine this? As the first Pranayma you are taught from your teacher? I appreciated that, as I did it before - guess wiith Lino Miele in Kovalam.

Actually Sharath shared a wonderful explanation - and also experience- there - that this Ashtanga-Pranayama cleans all impure sounds in us – so that we may hear and receive the divine sound! I have been very thankful for that deep experience with him!

In an introduction of Kumbhaka with Sri Sribhashyam in one weekend in Heidelberg - he would recommend to do a Antara Kumbhaka of 5 seconds during all practices at that day -  for asanas or pranayamas.  Once in a while he would say - again you forgot my advice and laugh!  I loved that session – it points out the idea of awareness while breathing.

Then, as always we had half-half practice and theory –he would give the following explanation about Kumbhaka
(from my script in February 2014 - “The Human Mind – His Functions and how to keep it healthy and peaceful”)

The significance of Kumbhaka:
Pranayama is considered as a health exercise or breathing exercise, we do not think of the other aspect:
Pranayama is our permanent link to God!

For this we have 3 parts:
Inhalation = PURAKA
HOLD = "which is not physical!!!" = KUMBHAKA = ONLY hold the breath.
Exhalation = RECHAKA

The word = KHUMBA means vessel ="The created universe" - and we are in THERE!
Therefore, when we inhale -  we hold "what the jar gives" – and the Kumbhaka is almost normal, because we ARE in the pot.
"You maintain, what the universe gives you! - which we do not have!”

We want to receive something, and for that, we have to get rid of something,  what we don't need - thats not worse -just the principle! of the universe.
We receive something (from the universe) and we have to renounce something for it -  which is letting go, which is not necessarily bad!

So there are 3 actions in our relation to the Universe:
Inhale -  we receive something from the universe
Kumbhaka = what we like to retain!
Exhale = what WE give to the universe!
These three are seen as ONE action!

The pot has the capacity to transform something we give INTO SOMETHING we want!
It is simply an exchange! It is normal! That we too have to give something!

What we do in Pranayama is:
Give what we have -
Receive what we need!
What is lacking in us = the spiritual power!
In exchange we give something that is not spiritual! 
WE HAVE to share something - to receive something else!
THIS! is the concept of Pranayama!


The important thing is -
that Kumbhaka is a extension of the breath and NON-PHYSICAL!
Its more like surfing in the pure space of consciousness.

What prerequesits are there? First we have to extend the breath, breath calmly and consistent. Here were many exercises with Sri Sribhashyam to receive this subtleness of the breath. We could be aware, that the inhale is just coming, observing it extending – and the exhale is active (normally we receive this the other way round - we think we have to inhale and let the breath go).  To be aware of the length of our breathing could be, that once in a while, we check how many breath we take in 5 minutes – we did that regulary with S. Ramaswami – there was the idea the breath could be  1 breath in 1  minute – which is really long.
So for extending the breathing Sri Sribhashyam would often give “long exhalation”  or “long inhalation” - but never a number!
We should be able to go  beyond bodily feeling so our actions must be very very subtle – and as Sharath also said – as our actions, breathing, bandhas get more subtle – they will have a more subtle effect on the energetic body!


Sri Sribhashyam did not transmit any subject technicaly - f.or ex we never counted the length of breathing.
As from the first session, I experienced with him  - it was clear that practicing yoga is  to go beyond this material world.
Its not about making a kumbhaka very long – that might happen, may be -  its about the subtleness of breathing, about the state of consciousness, about a state of being – and here its not about - if you can enter in it 5 or 25 seconds – if you grasp 1 second of ZERO-NESS –  this s great!

For me -Kumbhaka I heard once that wonderful expression is – to smile in the stillness!

From the technical aspect - Kumbhaka might be seen as  a mere trick to advance in asana. I received that idea from Yogasanagulu, Sri T. Krishnamacharyas book - where I read first time in Anthony Grimmlys Blog or Book.  That trick works wonderfully!
When you may use Bahya Kumbhaka always after forewardbends (As Krishnamacharya explains in Yogasanagulu) - you can use the energy of the Kumbhaka to open the energy-gates of the hips.
So for ex, you do Baddha Kona Asana. When you use the technic of Kumbhaka, to "draw your Bandha more deeply" -  at the end of an exhalation - as your bandha is never completely fixed in the end of the exhalation (
as Srivatsa Ramaswami took that expression) - then you can easily, without any effort - bend more forward from the hips. Its mere energywork, and has nothing to do with a deeper stretch!


Find it out!
Namaste Andrea




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