Kevala Kumbhaka

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Kevala Kumbhaka Mean?

Kevala kumbhaka, meaning “only/isolated breath retention” in English, 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. This form of breath retention concentrates on holding the breath on a subtle breath, not on or directly after an explicit inhalation or exhalation.

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.


Yogapedia Explains Kevala Kumbhaka

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 an inhale or an 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 body
  • Improves concentration
  • Clears and stills the mind

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