Yoga and pranayama are probably the most accepted holistic exercises for (possible) absolute health as explained by biopsychosocial model. Pranayama is the respiratory exercise highly advisable for various physiological and psychological disorders. Kumbhaka forms the idea of deepest respiratory exercises (Pranayama) required to control the activities of mind and increase the concentration. This helps stabilizing the mind and lowering metabolism.
Kumbhaka is the “voluntary cessation of breath” and the intense stage is often called Kevali Kumbhaka where respiration ceases and metabolic activities stop unless reverted voluntarily. It’s of utmost importance for yogis (one who performs yogic exercises) to achieve samadhi which becomes easier with kumbhaka as explained by yoga and spiritual scriptures.
Importance of Kumbhaka
Respiration includes inhalation and exhalation. In between these two processes there’s a really minute gap or pause (normally in miniseconds) which is frequently not noticed and it recurs, i.e, inhalation-pause-exhalation-pause-inhalation…. and it continues. The utmost gap or pause is observed within the state of rest. Kumbhak enforces to extend the pause by ceasing the breath routinely and constantly by various forms of pranayama and kumbhaka exercises. It’s being observed that more is the time spent for pranayama (and kumbhaka) increased is the concentration and higher is the control over mind. Various ancient yogis (expert in yoga and pranayama) noticed the importance of respiration and its correlation with activities of mind and vital forces. Aging can be seen proportional to frequency of respiration or respiratory rate, i.e, frequency of inhalation and exhalation in a single minute. Medical science recorded normal respiratory rate in humans as 12-16 breaths per minute with life span of 70-80 years. These figures may vary attributable to geographical, communal and other distribution aspects.
Though the extent of consciousness varies from species to species, it’s seen highest in humans where conscious mind can provoke to perform activities and exercises as per wishes and this voluntary performance isn’t as much as such an extent in some other species and consequently all other species cannot stop their breath as and when desired (voluntarily). Some species (e.g, whales) can take enormous air and stop it for a very long time but that’s spontaneous requirement and involuntary; and it’s the need for them to survive this fashion.
Practicing kumbhaka for a very long time increases endurance of physiological in addition to psychological structure of a person. Continuous and long run practicing increases the hold or control on breath as much as an extent where it reaches to its extreme stage (Kevali Kumbhak) and the respiration is ceased permanently unless desired to get into normal state. Aging is proportional to metabolism which in turn is proportional to respiratory rate. Metabolism lowers down because the respiratory rate decreases and this helps prevent aging or not less than lowers down the method. It has not been recorded scientifically whether kevali kumbhaka can increase age (or could make immortality a fact) by lowering down the fundamental reactions which support life, nonetheless, various yoga sutras and spiritual scriptures define samadhi and immortality (anti-aging) an approachable dreams for determined individuals.