Another gem from the Lonavla Yoga Institute! Very little is known about the literature on pranayama and so far Kumbhaka Paddhati is the only ‘ancient’ text which deals exclusively and exhaustively with the subject of pranayama. Although it is a relatively recent manuscript, having been written in the 19th century, it is based on the traditions of yoga and much of the information contained in the manuscript is not available elsewhere. Sundaradeva, another writer on Hatha Yoga, (and the author of Hatha sanketa candrika and Hatha tatva kaumudi) makes many references to Kumbhaka Paddhati in his work.
Over 50 Kumbhakas are described, from the well known and universally practiced ujjayi kumbhaka to other little known practices such as netra kumbhaka (technique: inhale through the right nostril, hold the breath, inhale through the left nostril, hold the breath, then exhale through the right nostril, hold the breath and exhale through the left nostril).
Additionally Meru Kumbhaka is described, which is the 47 stages of spiritual development gained through continuous practice of pranayama. Essentially these are units of time spent practising pranayama from sparsa (fraction of a second) through to paramatma prakasa bhu (complete engrossment forever!). This description of meru kumbhaka does not appear in any other text and is therefore a unique feature of this work.
The editors explain the problems they have experienced with translating this text, repetition, ambiguity and incoherent presentation along with more general grammatical errors but these problems pale into insignificance when you consider the great importance of the text from a historical, practical, religious, philosophical and technical viewpoint.
As well as the original text, index of half verses and appendices in Sanskrit and the transliteration and translation in English, there are a great deal of explanatory notes, an introduction, detailed content of the text, a glossary and index in English. Dr BKS Iyengar wrote the foreword (in English), which is one of the most comprehensive, insightful and useful introductions to the whole subject and science of pranayama.
Additionally and interestingly there is also a copy of the first page of the original manuscript.
This book will greatly benefit students and teachers of Yoga wishing to gain more understanding of Pranayama
Kumbhaka Paddhati is translated as ‘Science of pranayama’ and it is important to know that this is in the context of Yoga rather than western science.