Just prior to antar kumbhaka, inhalation should take in slightly more air than normal to completely fill the lungs. Likewise, just prior to bahya kumbhaka, the exhalation should be complete, expelling more air than normal from the lungs.
Two additional types of kumbhaka are practiced by the most advanced yogis: sahaja (or sahit) kumbhaka, which is holding the breath with neither inhalation nor exhalation in mind; and kevala kumbhaka, which does not require inhalation or exhalation and is considered on par with the state of samadhi (the final stage of union with the Divine).
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 kumbhaka in conjunction with pranayama is believed to help prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases, from skin disorders to diabetes. Kumbhaka also has the following benefits:
- Helps remove impurities from the body
- Boosts physical and mental vitality
- Improves concentration
- Clears and stills the mind