Definition - What does Kumbhakasana mean?
Kumbhakasana is a strengthening and balancing pose that prepares the arms and core for more advanced arm-balancing asanas. The name comes from the Sanskrit, kumbhaka, meaning “inhaling, retaining and exhaling (breath retention),” and asana, meaning “pose” or “posture.”
To begin, place the hands and knees on the floor. Align the wrists under the shoulders so that the arms are in a straight line from wrist to shoulder. Palms should be face down on the floor with fingers spread wide. Hands and arms should stay strong to support the body and protect the wrists. Draw the navel towards the spine and keep the neck and head in alignment with the rest of the spine. On an inhale, step the feet back with toes tucked. With arms and torso strong, the body should be in a straight line from the crown of the head through the heel. Hips and thighs should remain lifted, but without moving out of spinal alignment (pelvis should not dip towards the floor, nor should glutes rise on their own towards the ceiling). Practice gentle, controlled breaths while the abdominal muscles work to maintain alignment in this pose. To exit the asana, softly lower the knees to the floor and release.
Kumbhakasana is also known as plank pose in English.
Yogapedia explains Kumbhakasana
Kumbhakasana is often used as a transitional pose between sun salutation flows, especially in Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga. It promotes feelings of inner strength as well as spiritual alignment and balance.
When practiced on the forearms with the hands in a prayerful position, it is thought to open the ajna (third eye) chakra, which promotes clarity, Self-realization and wisdom. Kumbhakasana also activates the manipura (solar plexus) chakra, or the power center of the body.
Individuals who are building strength, have sensitive wrists or have carpal tunnel syndrome may wish to practice kumbhakasana with a modification. When entering the pose from hands and knees, once the feet step backward with toes tucked, bend the knees so that the spine is aligned in an angle in which the knees support the pose. To protect the wrists, practitioners can lower the forearms onto the mat to support the body, with elbows aligned under the shoulders.