In Lesson 12 we introduced you to the fourth stage of nadi shodhana pranayama called bahir kumbhaka. We emphasized that you should not hold your breath for a long duration after exhalation in the early stages of practice. This is important. We suggested that you hold your breath externally for no longer than the duration of inhalation. That is, if you breathe in for a count of 5 (seconds), then you should also do bahir kumbhaka for no longer than a count of 5 (seconds); if you inhale for 3 seconds then outer retention should only be for 3 seconds. And so on. If you have mastered this, and if you simultaneously have no strain or difficulty in performing inhalation, exhalation and antar kumbhaka (inner retention with control), then increase the duration of bahir kumbhaka.
The previous ratio given was 1:8:6:1: 1:8:6:1 for the complete practice. If you have mastered this ratio, then you can adopt a new ratio as follows: 1:8:6:2:1:8:6:2 for inhalation: antar kumbhaka: exhalation: bahir kumbhaka: inhalation: antar kumbhaka: exhalation: bahir kumbhaka.
Don’t strain. The motto should be ‘slowly, slowly’.