How can we get maximum health benefits of yoga with pranayama? What are ways to have pranayama benefits when progressing in personal yoga practice? How many cycles per minute and durations of inhalations/exhalations for correct yoga practice?
In this video, Dr. Artour Rakhimov and Volker Schmitz discuss the relation of breathing retraining to yogi’s pranayama or breathing exercises or control of breath. Volker Schmitz is a breathing retraining practitioner and yoga teacher from Hamburg Germany. Dr. Artour Rakhimov asks Volker, “How do people practice pranayama and can it be improved or practiced in a more optimal way?”.
Volker replies, “Let us say pranayama has 3 stages for beginners, advanced students and the most advanced students. Most of the time people will stay at the beginner level. For example, most people do not practice with less than 2 breaths per minute. There are people that can reach higher levels. The main reason is people see pranayama is to be practiced for 1 hour or half an hour daily. They practice the same pranayama for many years. They do not practice breathing 1 breath for every 1 and a half minute or 1 breath every 2 minutes or 1 breath every 3 minutes.” That is starting with 30 s per one pranayama cycle, and weeks/months later up to 60-120 s per one cycle.
Regular pranayama should aim for these higher goals. It is important to be careful practicing this type of yoga as it requires lifestyle changes. When you breathe through your mouth at night and during sleep, you can not practice these higher levels of pranayama. Dr. Artour Rakhimov read many yoga books that were written in the last 50 years and they do not mention about making changes to unconscious breathing patterns. In much older yoga books written by Patanjali and others, they all mention that the purpose of pranayama is to extend these stages.
The breathing exercises that practice breathing less often is only possible once changes have been made to unconscious breathing patterns. This is difficult to achieve. Modern people breath twice more than the medical norm according to many clinical studies that measured minute ventilation and practical DIY results related to the body-oxygen test. It makes it impossible for them to practice pranayama for 1 breath a minute. Students could possibly reach it if they practice 3 times a day and they could do it by the last session. In the next morning, those changes will be gone if they do not change certain lifestyle habits. This is the main difference from ancient yoga.
More details about “Pranayama Benefits” are here https://www.normalbreathing.com/d/pranayama-benefits.php . The Spanish translation of this page is “Beneficios de Pranayama: Si extiende ciclos y respira menos” https://www.respiracionnormal.org/pranayama-beneficios/ .
Historically, people had much better unconscious breathing patterns then so-called yoga teachers today. According to the graph chart that is on the Homepage of NormalBreathing.com, a hundred years people breathed 4 to 5 L per minute. That is less than the medical norm. These were independent physiological studies. Also, these numbers would make a yoga student easily breathe 1 breath per minute during pranayama.
People need to make changes to their automatic breathing patterns to be able to practice higher stages of pranayama. The most important inital lifestyle changes are mouth breathing and sleeping positions. These two factors would make it difficult to practice higher stages of pranayama. If you sleep on your back (supine sleep) at night it reduces your body-oxygen level. On Dr. Artour’s website Normalbreathing.com, there is more information about this and many other topics. When you sleep with your mouth open and practice pranayama with your mouth open, it has a huge impact on breathing and it should be addressed with mouth taping and/or other techniques.
The YouTube URL of this video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rulk4MSBKhs /.
The video features Volker Schmitz (Buteyko breathing teacher, Hamburg, Germany) and Dr. Artour Rakhimov (Buteyko practitioner trainer, Toronto, Canada).
The video description was created with participation of Chris Prokop (Mississauga, Canada).