Yoga Benefits Can Be Measured with a Simple O2 Test
“Hence, so many people are curious about yoga. It is a surprisingly wise system of exercises…” Dr. Buteyko Lecture in the Moscow State University, 1969
Among various styles, schools, and types of yoga, there is one traditional school that is devoted to excellent physical health: hatha yoga. Since this website is mostly devoted to physiological health and diseases, we are going to focus on yoga benefits in relation to health, especially the benefits of hatha yoga, which has two most essential types of practices: breathing exercises and practicing asanas (or yoga postures).
Here is a video on the right side about yoga benefits. It provides dozens of clinical studies and key quotes from ancient yoga texts.
Yoga benefits are in slower breathing
The answer to yoga benefits is in the understanding of breathing. I am not talking about any breathing exercises. Breathing takes place 24/7 and the body requires oxygen 24/7. Hence, it is necessary to consider our automatic or unconscious breathing that is going on day and night. Let me start with traditional views on yoga breathing.
There are several classic manuscripts on Hatha Yoga written between centuries ago: Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Gheranda Samhita and the Shiva Samhita. What do they teach about breathing?
Hatha Yoga Pradipika (15 century)
"3. So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life. Death consists in passing out of the (breathing) air. It is, therefore, necessary to restrain the breath."
"17. Hiccough, asthma, cough, pain in the head, the ears, and the eyes; these and other various kinds of diseases are generated by the disturbance of the breath."
"28. The breathing is calmed when the mind becomes steady and calm; …"
The Shiva Samhita (17-18 century)
(5) The Pranayama
"22. Then let the wise practitioner close with his right thumb the pingala (right nostril), inspire air through the ida (the left nostril); and keep the air confined – suspend his breathing – as long as he can; and afterwards let him breathe out slowly, and not forcibly, through the right nostril.
23. Again, let him draw breath through the right nostril, and stop breathing as long as his strength permits; then let him expel the air through the left nostril, not forcibly, but slowly and gently."
"39. When the Yogi can, of his will, regulate the air and stop the breath (whenever and how long) he likes, then certainly he gets success in kumbhaka, and from the success in kumbhaka only, what things cannot the Yogi commend here?"
"43. ... from the perfection of pranayama, follows decrease of sleep, excrements and urine."
Increase of Duration
"53. Then gradually he should make himself able to practice for three gharis (one hour and a half at a time, he should be able to restrain breath for that period). Through this, the Yogi undoubtedly obtains all the longed for powers."
"57. When he gets the power of holding breath (i.e., to be in a trance) for three hours, then certainly the wonderful state of pratyahar is reached without fail."
The Gheranda Samhita (15-17 century)
"7. Wherenever the yogi may be, he should always, in everything he does, be sure to keep the tongue upwards and constantly hold the breath. This is Nabhomudra, the destroyer of diseases for yogis. "
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (4th-2nd century BC)
"Pranayama [the main breathing exercise in yoga] is the cessation of inspiratory and expiratory movements."
All these original texts do not have any referrals to deep breathing and ideas related to intensive expelling poisons from the lungs. They suggest the opposite ideas: to restrain, keep in, calm, and hold the breath.
However, if you start reading more recent books (written during the last 40-50 years, not before that) and web sources, you can find thousands of yoga teachers who claim that breathing should be deep (i.e., deep unconscious breathing pattern), that there are (some mysterious) toxins and poisons expelled from the lower parts of the lungs with deep breathing, and that CO2 is toxic (!). There are still yoga teachers who have a traditional understanding of automatic breathing, but in our modern age of education and knowledge, it is impossible to have a clear vision of yoga practices, including the effects and benefits of yoga, without an understanding of CO2 properties.
Currently, Bikram Yoga (or hot yoga) is the most popular movement. To learn about modern Bikram Yoga teachers and their understanding of breathing, visit Bikram Yoga Benefits.
Dr. KP Buteyko studied hatha yoga in detail and he discovered the main secret of yogi's super-health. This secret is explained on the web page Yoga Breathing Secret. More details about Yoga Pranayama: Who and How Gets Pranayama Benefits.
Conclusions. The majority of modern yoga teachers believe that deep breathing is good for health and that CO2 is a toxic waste gas. Since the actual situation is the opposite (chronic diseases develop due to alveolar hyperventilation), yoga benefits are limited and most people cannot improve their health using this fascinating ancient health practice.
Reference pages: Breathing norms and medical facts:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- 6 breathing myths: Myths and superstitions about breathing and body oxygenation (prevalence: over 90%)
- Hyperventilation: Definitions of hyperventilation: their advantages and weak points
- Hyperventilation syndrome: Western scientific evidence about prevalence of chronic hyperventilation in patients with chronic conditions (37 medical studies)
- Normal minute ventilation: Small and slow breathing at rest is enjoyed by healthy subjects (14 studies)
- Hyperventilation prevalence: Present in over 90% of normal people (24 medical studies)
- HV and hypoxia: How and why deep breathing reduces oxygenation of cells and tissues of all vital organs
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
- Body oxygen in healthy: Results for the body-oxygen test for healthy people (27 medical studies)
- Body oxygen in sick : Results for the body-oxygen test for sick people (14 medical studies)
- Buteyko Table of Health Zones: Clinical description and ranges for breathing zones: from the critically ill (severely sick) up to super healthy people with maximum possible body oxygenation
- Morning hyperventilation: Why people feel worse and critically ill people are most likely to die during early morning hours
References: pages about CO2 effect:
- Vasodilation: CO2 expands arteries and arterioles facilitating perfusion (or blood supply) to all vital organs
- The Bohr effect: How and why oxygen is released by red blood cells in tissues
- Cell oxygen levels: How alveolar CO2 influences oxygen transport
- Oxygen transport: O2 transport is controlled by vasoconstriction-vasodilation and the Bohr effects, both of which rely on CO2
- Free radical generation: Reactive oxygen species are produced within cells due to anaerobic cell respiration caused by cell hypoxia
- Inflammatory response: Chronic inflammation in fueled by the hypoxia-inducible factor 1, while normal breathing reduces and eliminates inflammation
- Nerve stabilization: People remain calm due to calmative or sedative effects of carbon dioxide in neurons or nerve cells
- Muscle relaxation: Relaxation of muscle cells is normal at high CO2, while hypocapnia causes muscular tension, poor posture and, sometimes, aggression and violence
- Bronchodilation: Dilation of airways (bronchi and bronchioles) is caused by carbon dioxide, and their constriction by hypocapnia (low CO2)
- Blood pH: Regulation of blood pH due to breathing and regulation of other bodily fluids
- CO2: lung damage: Elevated carbon dioxide prevents lung injury and promotes healing of lung tissues
- CO2: Topical carbon dioxide can heal skin and tissues
- Synthesis of glutamine in the brain, CO2 fixation, and other chemical reactions
- Deep breathing myth: Ignorant and naive people promote the idea that deep breathing and breathing more air at rest is beneficial for health
- Breathing control: How is our breathing regulated? Why hypocapnia makes breathing uneven, irregular and erratic.
Your social engagement and comments are appreciated. Thanks.
|Disclaimer||Copyright 2013 Artour Rakhimov||Contact details||About Artour Rakhimov (Google profile)|