- Updated on July 31, 2019
By Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author
You will be super healthy 24/7 if you retrain your breathing (this may take months or years) so that you are able to maintain this automatic (unconscious) breathing pattern at rest during your sleep and yoga asana practice:
In this YouTube video below, Volker Schmitz (yoga teacher from Hamburg, Germany) and Dr. Artour (Toronto, Canada) discuss how to get amazing asana health benefits by practicing asanas with controlled (reduced) breathing and measuring progress using the body oxygen test (known as “control pause”) in seconds.
Synopsis of yoga asana video
Buteyko Breathing expert, Dr. Artour Rakhimov, asks experienced yoga teacher, Volker Schmitz, how yoga postures, or asanas, help breathing retraining; and the opposite, how breathing retraining can help people achieve better asanas in yoga. Volker begins his answer to Dr. Artour saying there is a mutual, connecting effect between Buteyko breath retraining and practicing yoga asanas.
Volker discusses the results of a study measuring breaths-per-minute and heart rates after 20-30 minute headstands. After extended headstands, breathing and heart rates were significantly reduced, and parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems were balanced. Yoga postures do not yield the same results for all people, however, individual results vary.
Hundreds of years ago, when yoga was developed, people naturally breathed slower and less, 24 hours daily, 7 days a week. The postures that were developed back then were designed for people who had slow, easy breathing. Today’s yoga teachers encourage deep breathing which contradicts scientific studies that demonstrate how slowing down our breathing is the way to increase body oxygen.
What kind of benefits arrive when yoga students slow down their breathing and reach higher body oxygen test levels? Learning postures are easier when yoga students eliminate mild hyperventilation. Benefits include higher concentration levels when body oxygen increases. Students have better nerve and muscle control, lose weight, sleep less, practice more, and hold postures longer with better oxygenation. It is easier to get into some asanas at normal body weights than it is at heavier weights.
Benefits come from incorporating pranayama with asanas, says Volker, for example, having two breaths per minute during asana practices, and then gradually having longer and longer durations for this slow breathing when executing asanas.
According to Dr. K.P. Buteyko, hatha yoga masters have ideal physical health, not because of extreme flexibility or just practicing asanas, but because they are, according to their unconscious breathing parameters, in the very top row (Super Health Zones) of the Buteyko Table of Health Zones due to their easy diaphragmatic breathing at rest or during sleep with about 3-4 breaths per minute and up to 48-50 mm Hg for arterial carbon dioxide concentrations.
Right below here, as your bonus content, are yoga quotes (5 paragraphs of amazing wisdom) by this leading Soviet physiologist.
We declassified the major miracles of the yogi. Their major miracles are in the reduction of respiration and accumulation of carbon dioxide. For thousands of year, 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 suffer…
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 the yogi, which thus far have not been decoded. It turned out that we discovered the way to decipher super-resilience of the 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 in 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 their miracles.
… 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 University (1969)