Leading Yoga Gurus Distort Yoga Breathing Essence

Yoga is an amazing ancient practice that can profoundly change health in the sick and mildly sick people. In the past, yoga masters and teachers were more successful in their treatment of various chronic conditions. However, these days, the benefits, due to modern yoga practice, are very limited. Only a small number of people are able to improve their health.Breathing was the foundation of yoga, especially hatha yoga (which is considered as yoga for physical health). [Correct breathing has always been the essence of hatha yoga.]There are several areas related to breathing which are misunderstood by modern yoga gurus and teachers, including Iyengar, Birkam Choudhury and thousands of other yoga practitioners and leaders. It is correct and in agreement with medical research that breathing at rest should be mainly diaphragmatic. However, breathing is about oxygen and carbon dioxide transport. Both these chemicals are required by body cells all the time. Hence, the essence of breathing is not in some breath work, but in an automatic or unconscious breathing pattern, which is going on constantly.Ancient Sanscrit manuscripts on Hatha Yoga (the Gheranda Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and the Shiva Samhita) claim that the purpose of yoga breathing routines is to “hold”, “restrain”, “suspend”, and “calm” the breath without any reference to expulsion of any toxins from the lungs. (Clearly, if one restrains or calms the breath, his or her body CO2 level increases). What about teaching of modern yoga leaders?The confusion of modern yoga gurus (and their pupils and students) is evident in the following statements.1. Modern yoga gurus suggest that in order to increase body oxygen levels, one should have maximum inhalations so that all areas of the lungs get fresh air supply. This is nonsense since with tiny normal breathing (500 ml for one breath), human arterial blood is almost completely (about 98-99%) saturated with oxygen.
2. Modern yoga gurus claim that CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a waste gas and, hence, it is good to expel it from the body cells. Hundreds of research articles have found that normal CO2 levels in the arterial blood and body cells is imperative for health. (We simply die in minutes if gets below 10-15 mm Hg.)
3. Yoga gurus assume that only breathing exercises matter, while our automatic or basal breathing patterns are not important or that our automatic pattern should deep in both senses (first, with the use of the diaphragm; second, with a large tidal volume for each breath)
4. They do not provide any specific parameters or numbers related to normal or ideal automatic breathing patterns at rest (normal and ideal respiratory frequency, normal and ideal minute ventilation, and so forth) for maximum body oxygen content.
5. They do not provide even the direction to go in relation to basal or automatic breathing. Should we breathe more air or less, faster or slower?
6. Most yoga leader and students assume that it is possible to have slow but deep (large) breathing. This is another fantasy since when people start to breathe slower, their breathing also becomes more shallow (reduced tidal volume or amount of air per one breath). Vice versa, when one’s breathing pattern at rest is fast, it is automatically deep (large tidal ). (This is exactly what we can see in the sick and severely sick people: deep breathing 24/7.)These topics are crucial since low body oxygen levels are in the foundation of chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease, asthma, COPD, and many others). Furthermore, one may do any breathing exercises for 1, 2 or even 3 hours every day, but it is more important how he or she breaths during remaining part of the day, especially during early morning hours since statistic of mortality indicates that the severely and critically ill people are most likely to die from 4 to 7 am due to severe disturbances in blood gases and cell oxygenation, regardless of the name of the disease and medical diagnosis.Professional medical investigations related to automatic breathing patterns and CO2There is a certain normal breathing pattern at rest that corresponds to 10-12 breaths per minute for respiratory frequency, 6 L/min for minute ventilation, 500-600 ml for tidal volume and about 40 mm Hg for arterial CO2 tension.Breathing more than the metabolic needs of the human body is called hyperventilation. The average minute ventilation for modern “normal subjects” at rest, according to over 20 medical research articles, is about 11-12 L/min. (Note that 70-80 years ago it was about 4-5 L/min.) People with chronic diseases breathe even heavier.Hyperventilation cannot improve blood oxygenation to any significant degree since our arterial blood is up to 98-99% saturated with oxygen during tiny normal breathing. Hence, the main biochemical effect of hyperventilation is excessive removal of CO2 leading to constriction of arteries and arterioles (CO2 is a powerful vasodilator) and the suppressed Bohr effect (less O2 is actually released within cells at reduced body CO2 levels). Consequently, the less we breathe (we are talking only about unconscious breathing), the more oxygen is provided for the body cells.Additional established benefits associated with CO2 are: sedative or calmative influences on nerve cells, bronchodilation (dilation of airways), potent antioxidant capabilities (suppression of free radicals), powerful muscle tissue relaxant, ability to recover lungs and other tissues, regulator of numerous chemical reactions considering that life on Earth had been developing at quite high CO2 (up to 7-12% throughout development of very first lungs about 2-2.5 billions years ago).Most of these discoveries were made many years ago by leading Soviet physiologist Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, MD, PhD, who was a devoted hatha yoga student. He presented this research to Moscow University scientists during his Lecture that was later published in the popular Soviet magazine “Science and life”.

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