- Updated on November 14, 2019
By Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author
- Medically Reviewed by Dr. David Walker, CPA, Licensed Psychologist
In the video below, Volker Schmitz (yoga teacher and Buteyko breathing practitioner, Hamburg, Germany) with Dr. Artour (Toronto, Canada) share their views on mechanisms and reasons related to yoga benefits.
A Buteyko Breathing Master Trainer, Dr. Artour Rakhimov, engages his good friend, Volker Schmitz, in an interesting general yoga conversation. Volker is a long-time yoga teacher and he is also certified to teach Buteyko Breathing. Dr. Artour begins by asking Volker how changing people’s automatic-unconscious breathing patterns through breathing retraining helps people who frequently practice yoga.
Volker responds by saying that breathing retraining benefits people practicing yoga beyond yoga postures and yoga breathing (pranayama); breathing retraining also helps in the meditative and psychological states of mind as well. Breathing has an impact on yoga postures, pranayama, meditation, and concentration.
Is there anything wrong with the breathing patterns of a new student entering yoga class for the first time? Yes, Volker answers, beginning yoga students over-breathe, or take too many breaths per minute without thinking about it. Most people have a “mild form of hyperventilation, or hidden hyperventilation, they don’t feel it,” says Dr. Artour, and they are breathing too much. Over-breathers have low body-oxygen test results, usually around 20 seconds for their body oxygen control pause (CP) test. It is easy to do a CP test, just take a normal breath in and out through the nose, gently pinch the nose shut, count seconds only to the point when a breath is needed, not beyond, then release the nose continuing relaxed breathing in and out through the nose. 100 years ago, body oxygen tests were normally 40 seconds; however, today they are only 20 seconds on average.
Volker says that low CP tests are a problem for today’s yoga students and yoga teachers; however, when one practice breathing retraining and achieves higher body oxygen test results, like 40 seconds CP, then yoga students will reap benefits such as reduced need for sleep, reduced weight, more endurance in yoga practice, and better nervous system functions.
Yoga masters reach states in the super health levels in the Buteyko Table of Health Zones. Yoga masters can slow their breathing down, sometimes, to three breaths per minute, and yoga masters can benefit similarly as Buteyko Breathing students who learn how to slow down their unconscious-automatic breathing patterns and increase their CP’s to 60 seconds or more.
Volker emphasizes that pranayama is in the center of yoga practice. More about the Buteyko breathing retraining method can be found on this extensive website.
There are many insightful quotes about yoga breathing by leading Soviet physiologist Dr. K.P. Buteyko: how/why yoga works in his Lecture that he delivered in the Moscow State University in 1969 for leading Soviet scientists. Some of these quotes (5 paragraphs of amazing wisdom) are below here as your bonus content.
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)