“The perfect man breathes as though he is not breathing”
“Mind and breath have the same source. Hence breath is controlled when mind is controlled and mind, when breath is controlled. Breath is the gross form of the mind. When mind stops the breath also stops and other way around”
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
The length of Breath retention is the criteria of health and energy level of the body. It also reflects the purity of body and mind. Kevala kumbhaka is the state when the physical breath stops. It happens in asanas, meditation, state of Samadhi or as a result of pranayama’s. Our system has more subtle mechanism of breathing based on prana. Energy/prana can be assimilated by the body directly from the environment without physical breath if the body and mind are pure enough which can be reached by the practice of yoga including pranayamas with long breath retention like nadi shodhana. This energy breathing mechanism is in dreaming state but can be awakened by prictice of yoga. When one can hold the breath more then 5 minutes the slowly kundalini awakens and Kevala Kumbhaka is attained. Breath stops automatically without effort. This is the goal of pranayama.
Definition – What does Kevala Kumbhaka mean?
Kevala kumbhaka is a yogic breathing practice in which the breath is retained or held and is often practiced in pranayama along with the bandhas and meditation. Yogis believe that kevala kumbhaka influences prana being held within the body, increasing vitality and positive energy within the self, and is an important practice in Hatha yoga.
Kevala kumbhaka does not require inhalation or exhalation and is considered the final stage of spiritual union, or samadhi. Kevala kumbhaka is not simply holding the breath between inhale and exhale. It is considered holding the prana completely separate of the movements of inhales or exhales, and is an unprompted stop of breath that occurs within a samadhi state attained through pranayama.
Some claim that kevala kumbhaka cures all diseases and causes practitioners to have a long, healthy life. Many diseases are thought to be caused by disturbances within the pranic energy system in the body and mind. Pranayama – for example, nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) with antar kumbhaka – helps bring the energy system into harmony. Therefore, effective practice of a kumbhaka (like kevala kumbhaka) in conjunction with pranayama is believed to help prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases, from skin disorders to diabetes.
A kumbhaka practice also has the following benefits:
- Helps remove impurities from the physical body
- Purifies Nadis – energy body channels
- Boosts physical and mental vitality
- Improves concentration
- Clears and stills the mind
- Allows easily enter the state of Presence
- Develops Sidhi – super normal capabilities
Physiology of breath read on Buteyko Method page.
Why mind stillness is difficult even in spontaneous kumbhak ?
Because the mind is kind of higher then breath, more subtle. Control of breath improves the concentration. But if your mind is out of hands, used to move and jump around only direct working with the mind can give you the stillnes. Meditation is a good tool to calm down the mind but only temporary. To make the mind really still one needs to understand and drop the most usual conditionings.