Modern Yoga Leaders Do Not Know How to Breathe

By Dr. Artour Rakhimov (

If you examine and compare ancient, old, and modern yoga publications with regards to their understanding of breathing, you can find many curious facts.

There are three classic manuscripts on Hatha Yoga prepared somewhere between 14 and 17 centuries: the Gheranda Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and the Shiva Samhita. What exactly do they instruct with regards to breathing?

Hatha Yoga Pradipika (15 century):
"3. So long as the (breath) air stays in the body, it is called life. Death consists in passing out of the (exhaling) air. It is, therefore, necessary to restrain the breath. "

"17. Hiccough, cough, asthma, pain in the head, the ears, and the eyes; these and other various types 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:
(5) The Pranayama
"22. Then let the wise yoga practitioner close with his right thumb the pingala (right nostril), inspire air through the ida (the left nostril); and keep the air confined – hold 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 air through the right nostril, and stop breathing as long as his strength permits; then let him eshale 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 his 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? "

Which breathing do they talk about?

Breathing is going on 24/7 and the human body needs vital oxygen 24 hours per day. Consequently, they talk about our unconscious or automatic breathing, not some particular breathing routines.

Older yoga publications (written over 50 years ago) write that breathing is the most significant component of yoga and it is a lot more essential compared to learning most challenging poses or asanas.

In accordance with traditional hatha yoga manuscripts, the purpose of yoga and yoga breathing routines should be to "hold", "suspend", "restrain", and "calm" the breath (see additional quotes from three most significant yoga manuscripts on my website's page Yoga Benefits - see the link below). Obviously, if you hold your breath, you get more CO2 in the lungs, blood and other body cells.

Modern views of yoga teachers on breathing and CO2

Regrettably, most contemporary yoga leaders and practitioners suggest contrary opinions in relation to basal or automatic breathing. Contemporary yoga teachers believe in:
- the deep breathing fantasy (our basal or automatic breathing should be deep or large);
- harmful waste associated with carbon dioxide.

Hundreds of modern yoga sources suggest that we should expel as much CO2 as possible.

Moreover, contemporary yoga instructors don't offer precise ranges associated with best or ideal breathing. (You will not find exact numbers for breathing parameters in modern yoga writings!) What's the best breathing rate to get highest possible body O2 content? How much is the ideal or healthy minute ventilation? What is the optimum carbon dioxide amount in the arterial blood?

Professional medical investigations in relation to ideal breathing and benefits of CO2

Nowadays there are tens of confirmed benefits of CO2. Increased CO2 concentrations or mild hypercapnia is the main factor that clarifies remarkably low breathing rates in yoga masters (only around three breaths for each minute at rest as well as throughout sleep) and particularly large body O2 concentrations.

All these breakthroughs had been made by top Soviet physiologist Doctor Konstantin Buteyko, MD, PhD who in the 1950-60's developed the renowned Buteyko breathing method. Doctor. Buteyko found that sick people require more than 15-20 breaths for every minute at rest according to their health condition. Quicker breathing removes too much CO2 from the body cells leading to constriction of arteries and arterioles (CO2 is the most powerful identified vasodilator) and the suppressed Bohr effect (less O2 is actually released within cells at reduced CO2 levels).

At the same time, heavy or deep breathing cannot improve blood oxygenation since during normal breathing it is about 98%.

Consequently, slow unconscious breathing pattern supplies people with improved cell oxygenation. The less and slower we breathe, the more oxygen we get. (Bear in mind that we are discussing automatic breathing patterns.)

Additional established qualities associated with CO2 comprise: bronchodilation (dilation of air passages), sedative or calmative effects on nervous cells, ability to repair lungs and other tissues, potent antioxidant capabilities (suppression of free radicals), powerful muscle tissue relaxant, regulator of heart rate, blood pressure, sleep, and numerous biochemical processes and reactions considering that life on Earth had been developing at quite high CO2 content in the past (up to 7-12% throughout development of very first lungs).

The way to assess breathing

Doctor Buteyko worked for the first Soviet outer space missions (Soviet Cosmos) and he created a diagnostic complex (complexator) to determine around thirty-five variables of the body of a human body instantly (virtually anything that could possibly be taken or measured, while applying devices): ECG, EEG, pulse, blood pressure, arterial and venous O2 and CO2 concentrations, and many others. His studies had been published and released in more than 45 professional medical articles. On the other hand, ill individuals couldn't utilize his sophisticated apparatus on a regular basis. Solutions?

In order to determine breathing do-it-yourself, Doctor Buteyko developed a unique stress-free apnea test or breath holding time examination: right after your natural exhalation (outhale), pinch the nostrils and count your own breath holding time, but just until the first tension (without any kind of forcing yourself).

Doctor Buteyko and his physicians (he taught about two hundred MDs to use his breath method) observed that ill individuals possess rapid and deep breathing, yet merely about 10-15 seconds of oxygen for this examination. Normal contemporary persons have about 20-25 s of oxygen. Although should they have the ability to decrease their unconscious breathing right down to 3-4 breaths for every minute, their body O2 amount will be about 2-3 minutes, and their maximum breath holding time (after complete inhalation and for as long as possible) will be approximately 7-9 minutes. This were observations of his medical practitioners.

Dr. Buteyko and yoga

Additionally, in agreement with classic yoga writing, Doctor Buteyko identified that with reduced breathing, individuals begin to sleep much less (down to 2-3 hours with virtually no restrictions, if they have ideal breathing). People begin to crave physical activity, could break down greater types of foodstuff, possess remarkably powerful immune systems, and so on. (According to his interviews, Buteyko himself had just two hours of sleep for every night.)

He analyzed the consequences of yoga asanas and determined a large number of them could only be executed while keeping one's breath. Therefore, a demanding training with many successive yoga poses naturally entails numerous breath holds. The key yoga breath work (pranayama) demands progressive raise in durations of all phases of the breathing cycle additionally resulting in gradual build up of CO2. (Yoga experts can perform pranayama with just one full or complete inhale for each 2-3 minutes, but they reduce their minute ventilation and raise their arterial CO2 during this practice. Effects? They retrain their breathing center to higher CO2 values. Consequently, their basal breathing pattern after such sessions becomes reduced and easier. Indeed, virtually any medical textbook asserts that our breathing is actually controlled not by O2 need, but by the arterial CO2 concentration.)

You can learn about his findings on my site ( and find out a lot more about the most perplexing and distorted health area, breathing and an amazing health remedy, yoga: Yoga Benefits and Bikram Yoga Benefits.

Here is an excellent video from Youtube (it is embedded below): Yoga.

For Dr. Buteyko exact quotes related to yoga, visit Yoga Breathing web page.

Dr. Artour Rakhimov is a health educator. He is the author of books and the educational website devoted to natural self-oxygenation and health education. The website has hundreds of medical quotes, charts, tables, graphs, references, results of clinical approbations and trials, analysis of respiratory techniques, free breathing exercises, manuals, techniques, lifestyle modules and many other resources for better cell oxygen content and health. Normal Breathing defeats chronic diseases!


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artour 4 years ago from Canada Author

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