Yoga Breathing: Main Secret of Yoga's Super Health
Many people believe that yoga is about postures and maybe breathing
exercises, while old yoga had opposite ideas. One may spend years practicing asanas and thousands of hours doing
breathing exercises, but his or her health can get worse and worse. Instead of
this, it is smart to think about finding some criteria or
measurements of health in people practicing yoga. Then we can decide who is a real yoga master.
Here is a video: Yoga Gurus Misinform People about Yoga Breathing and Oxygen:
health of real yoga masters is possible to measure. They should have the ideal
automatic breathing pattern (with about 3 small breath per minute at rest
or during sleep). This slow and relaxed diaphragmatic breathing pattern provides the human
body with superior body oxygenation: about 2-3
minutes for the DIY body-oxygen test (stress free breath holding time after usual
exhalation). Yoga masters should need only about 2
hours of natural sleep and do not require more. There are many other effects that
correspond to the ideal breathing pattern. You can find them on the web page
devoted to the ideal breathing pattern.
Indeed, the body and cells require oxygen 24/7. A yoga novice can practice in
the best yoga
sessions, but if he or she sleeps on their back at night, or breathes through the mouth while
sleeping, all the positive effects of yoga practice will be demolished by tissue hypoxia and free
radicals generated during sleep.
According to ancient
books and manuscripts, the
goal of yoga breathing exercises is to "restrain", "hold", "suspend",
and "calm" the breath 24/7. See the quotes from 3 most important yoga
manuscripts (Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Gheranda
Samhita and the Shiva Samhita) on the page Yoga Benefits.
There are no any hints or quotes in these classical yoga texts about "breathing
more" or "breathing deeper". According to these books, progress in
(the main yoga breathing exercise) is measured in longer cycles for
breath holds, inhalations, and exhalations. This is possible only if one's
unconscious breathing becomes smaller and slower.
When the diaphragmatic breathing pattern gradually becomes slower and lighter
(breathing less air 24/7), blood supply, perfusion, abilities of the immune
system, cells' oxygen content, and many other key parameters of the human body
Yoga Breathing: Dr. Buteyko's Discovery
While Dr. K.P.
Buteyko was a medical doctor and a leading Soviet physiologist, he also devoted
considerable time studying the biochemical effects of
yoga breathing and hatha yoga postures
(poses or asanas) on his own health and the health of his numerous students and
pupils. He discovered the essence of yoga breathing techniques and exercises and
the secret of the vibrant health of yoga masters. (When people
are real yoga masters, they do have vibrant health.) Buteyko's
discoveries can dramatically enhance positive yoga effects on automatic
breathing, improve yoga benefits related to relaxation and meditation,
and successfully deal with anxiety, weight loss, stress, asthma and
many other conditions.
According to Buteyko, hatha yoga masters are at the top of the
Buteyko Table of
Health Zones due to their very slow diaphragmatic breathing at
rest or during sleep: only about 3 breaths per minute and around 2-3 min for
the body-oxygen test. Their very light and slow diaphragmatic
explains their amazing abilities, which were a hot topic for discussion
in mass media in the 1960's. It also explains the popularity of yoga
styles and techniques for relaxation and meditation, and for helping
with weight loss, stress, anxiety, and asthma.
During the 1950s and 60s, many respectable Western and Soviet
medical and scientific journals extensively wrote about the abilities of yogi to do various
unusual things with their bodies ("yoga miracles"). For example, they
could change and regulate their heart rate in a very wide range (e.g.,
from 10-20 up to 120 or more beats per minute); change and regulate
temperature of, for example, one arm; move a volume of water inside the
small and large intestine in both directions; be buried in a sealed
coffin for several days and come out alive afterwards; go into a state
similar to hibernation of animals with very low heart rate and body
temperature for many hours or days (some yogi did not survive the last
two endeavors); etc. These miracles were often witnessed and described
by Western doctors and scientists. In many cases these abilities of yogi were
measured and confirmed using corresponding devices, such as EKG,
thermometers, X-rays, etc.
Dr. Buteyko was invited to deliver a Lecture about his
medical discoveries to leading scientists of the most famous Soviet
University (Moscow State University). It was not a surprise that his
Lecture had the following title “From spasmodic disease to
super-endurance of yogi”. Dr. Buteyko suggested the following
explanation to the title of his lecture, "Therefore, our public lecture
- “From spasmodic disease to super-endurance of yogi” - is not
an empty phrase, not fantasy, but a reality, already proven by
thousands of people!" This lecture was published in one of the leading
popular Soviet magazines "Science and Life" (Nauka i zshizn').
Quotes: Leading Soviet physiologist Dr. KP Buteyko, MD, PhD about Yoga
"There is one question not discussed here: what would
happen with the organism, if breathing decreases below the norm? That
is, when breathing changes from deep to shallow, and then from shallow
to constantly shallow. Here we should not confuse full breathing of
yogi with deep breathing.
Advocates of deep breathing confuse these two concepts and, in their
defense, they say, “Yogi, for thousands of years, breathe deeply and we
see that they are super-humans”. Quite the contrary. Full breathing of
yogi is shallow breathing in our understanding. It is done, first, very
slowly, inhalations and exhalations as well; second, with maximum
breath holds after inhalations and exhalations.
And finally one should not confuse the following concepts: we are
speaking about breathing, which goes on day and night, about our basal
breathing, foundation of life. Meanwhile, the system of yogi has
separate breathing exercises. Therefore, it is practically unimportant
for us how and what you do: feet upwards or downwards, through the
right or left nostril, or by right or left side. We are interested in
where you will arrive as a result of these exercises. If carbon dioxide
increases, and breathing decreases, with each day, then this will
ensure the transition of man into a super-endurance state.
if we record the lungs’ ventilation and levels of carbon dioxide,
it is clear that with such training lung ventilation is reduced, and
carbon dioxide increases. Therefore, full breathing of yogi, according
to its physiological effect, is analogous to our shallow breathing.
This is the reason of its benefit. Now many people are interested in
the systems of yogi. This, of course, is a surprisingly wise system of
I do not speak about any religions or superstitions, this is not part
of the tasks of my lecture. But physiologically, yogi instinctively
selected almost everything that decreases respiration: the majority of
their postures (*asanas) lead to the decrease in respiration, and the
respiratory gymnastics itself is called, in Indian, Pranayama. The literal
translation means “slowing breath”. Whatever the yogi did with their
breathing, their final goal was to restrain [breathing], to harness it, to
reach breathlessness and deathlessness. But those, who misinterpreted and
badly understood it all, introduced this confusion that allegedly deep
breathing is the breathing of yogi...
We declassified the major miracles of yogi. Their major
miracles are in the reduction of respiration and accumulation of carbon
dioxide. For thousands of years the yogi were looking for “prana”,
which is somewhere in food, air, etc. It turned out that carbon dioxide
is prana. Here is the main source of life - carbon dioxide. If you
accumulate it, you become a “superhuman”; if you lose it, you
There is no total one-sidedness: if we increase carbon dioxide
above the norm (the middle norm), then an interesting phenomenon arises
which I will explain later such as super-endurance [or super-resilience], a
special stability of certain processes, a special stability of the nervous
system, etc. Now we shall connect this with the secrets of yogi, which thus
far have not been decoded. It turned out that we discovered the way to
decipher super-resilience of yogi and their miracles.
All these miracles are based on the fact that yogis accumulate CO2, and all
their secrets are connected with a reduction of breathing. Over 30 years ago
[John] Haldane found that the organism regulates CO2 level with 0.1%
accuracy (the threshold of CO2 regulation). Since this is the level of
accuracy, CO2, obviously, is very important. Is oxygen regulated with the
same precision? Only when oxygen decreases by more than 5%, the organism
reacts to restore it.
Then we understood that by reducing breathing below the norm, our patients
arrived at miracles. Here we realized . . . what it was all about! It
reminded of the yogi. What they strive for, it turns out, is achieved
through reduction of breath and increase in carbon dioxide. This explains
... Super-endurance of yogis is the effect of shallow breathing. This final
result unites real yogis and our system, the scientific system of breathing.
Yoga should be studied! There are many interesting physiological things
there. This topic is raised by many scientists in Moscow, and I support
them. We came across these phenomena accidentally, and if we focus on them,
many interesting things can be discovered." Dr. Buteyko Lecture in the Moscow State
With improved skills and health, a yoga student should
gradually increase the durations of inhalations, breath holds, and
exhalations, while practicing Pranayama. It is quite common that even
modern yoga masters can easily perform Pranayama with only 1 breath per
minute or less to accumulate more CO2. It was and is an obvious physiological mistake to call
a "deep breathing exercise".
Many more quotes are presented below, while there are about 20
paragraphs in his Lecture where the words "yoga" are
mentioned. Note that, while there are many yoga styles, techniques and
schools, Dr. Buteyko, as a doctor and physiologist, focused on hatha
yoga and the main hatha yoga breathing exercise, Pranayama.
Unfortunately, most modern yoga leaders and teachers have opposite views on
yoga breathing. They believe in a toxic nature of CO2
(it being a waste product and poison) and the deep breathing myth (e.g., see
quotes of Bikram yoga teachers:
Bikram Yoga Benefits).
Related web pages:
- YouTube video:
- Pranayama focuses on benefits of
based on slower breathing, high CO2 and CP. Who can get best benefits
from yoga breathing exercises and
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