You should continue the same ratio of breathing that we gave in the previous lesson1, but add the new mode of bahir kumbhaka to it. The ratio will be 1:8:6:1:1:8:6:1 made up as follows:
Inhale through left nostril (pooraka) 1
Retain breath internally (antar kumbhaka) 8
Exhale through right nostril (rechaka) 6
Retain breath externally (bahir kumbhaka) 1
Inhale through right nostril 1
Retain breath internally 8
Exhale through left nostril 6
Retain breath externally 1.
This is one round. Each round should be done in the same manner, one after the other.
Remember, the ratio we have given corresponds to the actual relative durations of inhalation, exhalation and both inner and outer retention. That is, if you breathe in for a count of 5 (seconds), for example, then you should retain internally for a count of 40, exhale for a count of 30 – and externally retain for a count of 5. This is one example. Only you will know your own capability, and you must set the duration of each stage in accordance with the given ratio to suit your proficiency. Whether you inhale for a count of 1, 2 or 10 seconds, there should be absolutely no strain.
You will find the practice is much easier to execute if you breathe out very slightly, immediately before releasing bahir kumbhaka. That is, when you have completed bahir kumbhaka, you should exhale slightly before inhaling. This will help to release the kind of lock that the lungs take after a duration of outer kumbhaka. This small trick brings the lungs and the associated nerves smoothly into operation once more to draw air into the body.
This little stratagem can also be used at the end of inner retention. That is, after com-pleting inner retention you can breathe in very slightly before exhaling.
Make sure that you maintain awareness of both breathing and mental counting. This is essential in order to make the mind relaxed and one-pointed.
Once again, we would like to emphasize that you should make sure that no irregularities occur. If you notice any negative mental or physical repercussions as a result of practising pranayama, then seek advice.
Another point to remember is that those people who have any serious physical or mental imbalance must take care before attempting to practise pranayama, especially the higher stages. In this category we include those people who have high blood pressure, people who are extremely neurotic and so on.