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Puraka, Rechaka, Kumbhaka

In-breathing (Puraka): "Even as a man sucks in water through the stem of a lotus even so should breath be drawn in. Such are the characteristics of in-breathing (puraka)." (Amrita Nada Up. 12.)

Out-breathing (Rechaka): consists in giving out, through the nostrils, the impure air from the lungs.

"Blowing out the air which is not part of one's body into the outside space and keeping to a state of emptiness, such are the characteristics of out-breathing (Rechaka)." (Amrita Nada Up. 11.)

Holding the Breath (Kumbhaka): "To keep still without breathing in, nor breathing out, nor move any limb, such are the characteristics of the Chalice (Kumbhaka)." (Amrita Nada Up. 15.)

Holding the breath (Kumbhaka) or "Chalice" is of two kinds: (a) The outward Chalice (bahya kumbhaka) consists in breathing out and then stopping the breath. The method usually adopted is to breathe in for the time it takes to repeat four times the sacred Syllable of Obeisance AUM, breathe out for the time it takes to repeat the syllable eight times, and stop breathing for the time it takes to repeat AUM sixteen times.

(b) The inward Chalice (abhyantara kumbhaka) consists in breathing in, then holding the breath before breathing out. The method usually adopted is to breathe in for four AUMS, hold for sixteen AUMS, and breathe out for eight AUMS.

The Absolute Chalice (kevala kumbhaka), or Stupefied Breathing (stambhavritti pranayama) consists in stopping the breath without effort at any point of in- or out-breathing. To do this, breathe regularly for some time, in-breathing for four AUMS, and breathing out for eight AUMS; then stop wherever convenient, and hold the breath for sixteen AUMS.

"That breath control in which the breath is held without effort and without breathing in or out, everyone calls the Absolute Chalice, kevala kumbhaka."

"He who is successful in the absolute chalice, without breathing in or out, finds nothing in the three worlds beyond his reach." (Vasishtha Samhita.)

"When, following the above method, the breath can be stopped for three ghatikas (one hour and a quarter), the yogi can realize all the attainments he wishes for without doubt." (Shiva Samhita 3, 62.)

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