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פרק קודם  תוכן

Chapter 11 

Yes, deprived of breath! I assert in sad earnest that I fully have lost my breathing. It would not suffice even for blowing off a bit of fluff or to blur the smooth surface of a mirror…
Edgar Poe

No, the wars have not yet been over, the voice of honor is still inaudible, and probably only yogins breathe freely and that is hardly!
 Alexander Galich

Respiratory technics of yoga are united by the general name «pranayama». Breathing is a process of gas exchange between an organism and its environment; in tissues and cells it does not stop for an instant. Oxygen exchanges in lungs with carbon dioxidewhich goes out on an exhalation from the organism. The total length of pulmonary capillaries makes up about three thousand kilometers, and the surface of alveoluses walls (the area for gas exchange) is about hundred fifty square meters. Together with elements of the endocrine system (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes), lungs carry out the major immune function. And their tissue supports balance of the intracellular hormones participating in work of the liver and the brain. Breathing is divided in two «stages»: pulmonary breathing, it is actually gas exchange in the lungs, and cellular — energy transduction of chemical bonds of some compounds (for example, glucose) in mitochondria of cells, proceeding at the presence of oxygen. Oxygen in the lungs gets in blood, is carried by it in the whole organism, and penetrates into cells through interstitial fluid. In cells it «is acquired» that is takes part in cellular breathing. As a result of this process, the chemical bound energy of respiratory substrata is transformed, changed, and «converted» in energy of the same chemical bonds of the universal energy carrier of a cell — adenosine triphosphate, ATP. In the АТP molecule there is an energy-rich (chemical) bond between two phosphate groups. For its formation it is necessary to have a certain portion of energy. But it is especially convenient for the cell that this bond is rather easily (if there is a special enzyme) broken off with release of this energy portion. Therefore АТP is used by the cell as a universal power «currency». ATP can deliver the necessary quantity of molecules to that area where the power contribution is necessary. For instance, it must be accelerated a biochemical reaction or opened an ionic channel. In this case, a strictly necessary quantity of АТP molecules is split in place. The life without cellular respiration is impossible. Actually, it is the truebreathing, and in the lungs there is only blood enrichment with oxygen.

Nobody knows the size of allowable changes of parameters of physiological processes, including also by means of Hatha Yoga. It may happen that the state of the reversible anabiosis,  called «sleep of yogins», continuing sometimes up to forty days, is based on the anaerobic transformation of glucose to acetic acid, but not in lactic acid as usual. Such course of events gives stability to lack of oxygen, solving in passing the problem of extreme power inputs.

To make concept of pranayama as an object we address as usual to primary sources.

«During staying in it (asana), one practices pranayama that is the termination of movement of inhaled and exhaled air» («Classical Yoga», p. 144).

«During mastering asana one carries out pranayama that is the regulation of breathing: inhalation is an oral introduction of air from the outside, an exhalation is an outside evacuation of air which is in the lungs. The termination [of movement] of  inhaled and exhaled air is pranayama» («Vyasa Bhashya»). SSS comments upon the given place so: «During traditional practice of asanas the rest is so deep that breathing becomes practically imperceptible».

Pranayama, however, «Is shown as an external, internal, or as a breath-holding, it is regulated according to place, time, and number, and due to practice becomes prolonged and delicate» («Classical Yoga», 2.50, p. 144).

«Pranayama is named external when there is no movement of air previous to an exhalation. It is internal when there is no movement of air previous to an inhalation. The third kind of pranayama functions as a breath-holding when both stop in consequence of the united effort. The fourth kind of pranayama surpasses internal and external spheres» (ibid, 2.51, 145).

«The fourth pranayama is the lack of movement of prana of both spheres of gradual overcoming of both stages due to restriction… of inhalation and exhalation. Its difference from the third pranayama consists in it» (ibid, p. 145).

«Exactly due to use … of pranayama, intellect becomes capable to concentration and, as it has been told above, reaches stability due to an exhalation and a holding of prana» (ibid, 2.53, 145).

«Deussen had showed that idea about prana … had already existed in the Brahmins and even in the Vedas. In the early Upanishadas much attention is paid to prana» («The Book of Bhishma», p. 154).

«Deussen (ibid, p. 156 etc)… points out that the primary meaning of the word prana — «breath», «life» prevails in the Vedas, Brahmins, and the early Upanishadas … ».

The layer of the Vedic texts, called Brahmins, enumerates seven and more pranas, but they are united by one main. Much attention is given to this question in the early Upanishadas; they recognize breathing as the basic prana. Similar statements are found also in philosophical texts of «Mahabharata».

So, pranayama (literally «breath-holding»), the fourth stage of Raja Yoga, « … Is not a simple training in respiratory movements; pranayama is something more. It is a training in management of vital corticovisceral functions of an organism and the nerve currents going from the cortex as from organ of the higher nervous activity to all internal organs and first of all — to the cardiovascular device» (ibid, p. 223). B.L. Smirnov marks that in the Mahabharata information of pranayama is poor, only in one place it is in passing told that one always refers it to «samprajnyata samadhi» that is to the highest degree of self-deepening.

According to correlation of duration of respiratory phases, the tradition distinguishes three types of the «ordered breathing», the first — 1:2:4 (where an inhalation is a time unit, an exhalation — two, a holding — four), the second — 1:2:1 and the third — 1:1:1.

The classical pranayama consists of the following phases: an exhalation — «rechaka», an inhalation — «puraka», a breath-holding — «kumbhaka». The breath-holding can be of two kinds: after an inhalation — «antara kumbhaka», after an exhalation — «bahya kumbhaka». In the Middle Ages one more breath-holding was added, and pranayama became «four-cycle», the correlation of stages has acquired the form 1:4:2:4 (an inhalation, a breath-holding after an inhalation, an exhalation, and a breath-holding after an exhalation). 

In addition the breath-holding (kumbhaka) is divided into «sahita» — connected with inhalation and exhalation, and «kevala» – the absolute or full one.

In the Encyclopedia of Yoga («Yoga Kama») is told: «Prana is a force which supports life».

The late Upanishadas and also the Bhagavad Gita cite names and describe functions of five pranas («Mokshadharma): samana, apana, udana, vyana, and theproper prana. Later five more were added to them. But just in the late Upanishadas there was a semantic transition from the theory about prana as about the universal vital principle to the concept of pranas as power flows.

It is considered that prana circulates through special channels in the body (a physiological conformity to them is not found till now), being a version of vital energy. Concept of prana is similar to «Qi» in Chinese acupuncture. The majority of traditional Chinese sourcesinterpret the mentioned channels asthe imaginary lines connecting points, called meridians. As to so-called «wonderful channels» (zhen-maj and du-maj), the concrete physiological formations correspond to them: vagus and sympathic innervation of the vertebral column, confirming quite correctly their definition in the Chinese medicine — «yin and yang controllers».

Breathing control plays the decisive role in Kundalini Yoga, and also in generation of heat «tummo», that is what had made Himalayan saints famous, not giving in to cold — «resps» (see N. Roerich’s picture «On Mountain tops»).  

People always have been amazed by a fakir trick with the burying and subsequent «revivification». In the state of yogic «anabiosis» the activity of an organism stands still, and a mysterious for the present mode of operation takes part. In the journal «Science and Life» (№7, 1989) is published the article of A. Malenkov and B. Sarbash «What is secret of zombies?». The question is of existence and inclusion (again under pressure) of mechanism of the «portal heart» when life is kept actually without breathing (for instance, a lethargic sleep, proceeding at times so long that yogins can envy this).

So, one means by «pranayama» some voluntary (only in the initial stage of training!) control of the respiratory process. There are two groups of technics — hyperventilating where the breathing in comparison with the rest is accelerated, and the basic one – hypoventilating when the respiratory process is considerably slowed down in comparison with the norm.

Yoga asserts that longevity is defined by the quantity of respiratory cycles. But science speaks that respiratory rate in field research is one of the indicators of ergotrop and trophotrop of the general vegetative tone that is the state of an organism defines respiratory rate and not on the contrary. Thus the central task is a decrease of ergotrop, activation of parasympathetic division, instead of holdings and slowdown of respiratory rhythm.

 « … A rough estimate shows that for warm-blooded animals lifetime consists of two hundred fifty million respiratory cycles or one and two tenth billion heart beats» (Peters R.H., 1983: The Ecological Implification of Body Size, Cambridge University Press, 329 p.).

The purpose of pranayama is creation of conditions that the respiratory cycle would have been spontaneously extended.  Breathing is one of the few vital functions of the organism, admitting a volitional intervention. All known respiratory exercises or techniques have a number of common traits:

— Artificial obstacles;

— Volitional breath-holdings;

— Volitional retardation;

— Superficiality or small depth of respiration (though this «quality» is in a great doubt). This list exhausts all conceivable ways of intervention in the natural respiratory process.Methods of forced respiration (hyperventilation) have not been kept by history — except for late modification of yoga where they are additional to the basic kinds of pranayama. From here it is possible to conclude that onlybradypnea has a useful influence what had been known already in ancient times. In the work «Heart Attack and Stenocardia Begin in the Lungs» (1996) there is a review of some respiratory techniques developed for the medioprophylactic purposes. System by Leo Kofler was taught at the end of XIX century in «schools of correct breathing», founded by him. In the beginning of XX century, he taught O.G. Lobanova who on basis of these exercises has developed then her own respiratory gymnastics. Its essence are pauses after an exhalation up to 2-3 sec, after an inhalation — 1 sec, the exhalation not up to the end, breathing itself is superficial.

I. Muller’s concept is recounted in the book «My System» (1904). There are two groups of respiratory practices in it. In one of them the rhythm of body movements corresponds with breathing, in another — during one respiratory cycle some fast motions are carried out. A part of them at the same time coincided with the respiratory rhythm, another part was carried out in antiphase, and just in this case impediment and superficiality arose.  

A.N. Strelnikova who was in her youth a singer, but has lost her voice, had invented a method of paradoxical breathing — once-a-second, fast, and noisy sniffs resembling an actively furious «sniffing». The exhalation is passive, soft, and spontaneous. The special appeal consists in that here breathing is connected with movement «on the contrary» much more emphasized than by Muller. For example, an inhalation occurs on compulsory compression of the thorax — there is direct evidence of artificial difficulties and hypopnoe. Strelnikova achieves good results in treatment of diseases of vocal apparatus and initial asthma displays. Essence of the method is creation (due to muscle tension) of a higher than usual pressure in the lungs and as consequence a greater oxygen assimilation and reduction of stagnation in the lesser circulation, what is basically achievable by inflation of air-balloons or by work on Frolov’s simulator.

And at last K.P. Butejko’s notorious method. It is known that predominance of only deep breathing or only hypopnoe is an abnormality. But Butejko learns extremely hypopnoe which, according to him, should become a constant for everyone. It would be nothing bad, if he did not declare his methodology a panacea for all diseases.

Technics according to Butejko is the following: respiratory rate is slowed down in volitional manner up to six — eight cycles per minute (at essential reduction of depth), then some breath-holdings are fastened to it. In its pure form method of VLDP (volitional liquidation of deep breathing) provides daily three-hour exercises, up to five series at a time with pauses of one — two minutes.  

Butejko declares that his system cures asthma. I met with people, who had managed to master hypopnoe, and I can tell as follows: any attempts of a volitional reshape of the respiratory pattern are harmful, and those who could do it look as badly as badly they feel. Hypopnoe removes asthmatic fits, so-called big crises, but the general well-being of patients steadily worsens.

«Application of Butejko’s method sometimes eases clinical course of asthma. However temporary improvement of the state comes at the cost of hypohondriacal crises, hypoxemia, pulmonary hypertension, and plus other complications which a patient receives together with his asthma» (corresponding member of the Russia Academy of Medical Sciences L.A. Isaeva, «Medical Newspaper», November, 14, 1984).

Therapeutic application of hypopnoe medicinally had been  described as far back as Plato, S.P. Botkin and others had used it too, Butejko is not original. Legends are rife that he has created his «system» on basis of pranayama, but it already cannot be  only because the method of yoga is based on lack of volitional outrage over organism, namely it is the main feature Butejko’s «method». There can be for nobody useful a wild overstrain of psyche and ANS (autonomic nervous system), provoked by VLDP. Besides Butejko’s approach differs by a too high selectivity: if it has helped, it is a merit of the author, if not, the patient is guilty himself.

It is known that quiescent the respiratory proportion is approximately the following: 1,5 seconds — an inhalation, 2,5 — seconds an exhalation, about 15 cycles per minute. Butejko, depriving people of residues of health, forces them to develop hypopnoe with rate of six — eight cycles per minute. A trained yogin quietly and naturally breathes in rate of one cycle per three — four minutes that is his breathing in comparison with Butejko’s one is approximately by twenty five times more «shallow». And it is nothing to say about a cycle per two minutes, such proportion is elementary. And for all that, there aren’t any shouts about elimination of all diseases, on the contrary, restrictions and contra-indications of pranayama are known precisely, no less than its useful effects.

For the one who has mastered the base technics of pranayama, one breath per minute is not an achievement at all. I was told about people who had brought cycle length in the full breathing up to nine minutes.

The French diver Jacque Majol characterizes apnoea as a «conscious or involuntary breath-holding …» («Dolphin-Man», p. 73). He says that doctors observed twenty-minute breath-holdings by professional yogins. Japanese girl divers «ama» hold the breath up to two, in Polynesia the record of stay under water is two and a half minutes.

The well-known sponge hunter, Greek Hadzhi Statti, could stay under water almost seven minutes (1913). Jacque Majol himself, having worked «apnoea» till four minutes fifteen seconds had reached depth of one hundred meters, and he trained breath-holding just by pranayama.

«G. Wilson, quoting the «Asian Monthly» of March, 1829, tells about a yogin who could hold the breath for a rather long term (20 — 40 minutes). He had willingly showed his skill wherever he was asked, and at the same time not for mercenary motives, but simply because of politeness. He also was capable to remain under water some hours «(«Immortality and Freedom», p. 442).

Once in Moscow (1979), a lady addressed to me who told a sad story. When her sister was a beginning singer, an anonymous reprint fell into her hands where the matter was about yogic breath and those advantages which it can give, in particular about increase of lung volume. The girl enthusiastically began to carry out according to these descriptions pranayama with breath-holdings. The effectbecame quickly apparent, already half-year later her vocal abilities and vocalization have appreciably increased. Once in a regular rehearsal before a concert (within a day before performance she usually ate nothing), she especially easily succeeded in breath-holdings. But then there was in area of coccyx a strange sensation which began to become stronger, and a hot itch went upwards in the backbone. Carrying out an ordinary holding, she had examined herself, having raised a little clothes, and saw that her body from the groin up to the navel became bright red. The border between usual color and this crimson dye was precise, as the horizon line on sea. And, what was surprising, this redness was slowly spreading upwards. When the dividing line of colors had almost reached the solar plexus, girl’s head began to swim and she had stopped pranayama. In a pair of minutes the top border of redness had moved downwards, turned into a narrow strip on the top part of hips and was gone. She felt euphoric mood as after a glass of good wine, in the backbone she felt a weak shiver. At the concert the girl had suddenly lost consciousness, in a hospital she got an attack of the nervous fever. Then there was a long and vague treatment as doctors did not understand the reasons and essence of what was going on. In the end, the second degree of disability;it was not that to sing, to live was impossible. Respiratory and cardiac arrhythmias, panic attacks, fear of death, nightmares… What can be done?

As it had passed more than three years, the only thing which I could advise was long pedestrian walks, then, while improving the state, fast rhythmical walking, and then running; only it could in perspective normalize breathing. In this case the girl had imposed on her organism an unacceptable rate of escalating of breath-holdings what has caused vegetative «short circuit» with attributes of awakening of Kundalini. And she had still got offcheaply.

In 1971 my friend Boris found by yogi Ramacharaka (alias Englishman William Atkinson) that a true yogi should supposedly control the breathing in everyday life. After a month of attempts of this control, he started to suffocate sitting at lectures in institute, and has hardly restored respiratory automatism by means of running.

I would not want to frighten, but if the inaccuracy of performance of asanas is at once shown by sensations or a pain, mistakes in pranayama are not so appreciable, but cost very dearly.

And now about breath-holdings. As is generally known, the «basic» respiratory proportion (apropos, I did not manage to establish its origin) looks so: 1:4:2:4, where 1 — time of an inhalation, 4 — a holding after an inhalation (Antara kumbhaka), 2 — time of an exhalation, 4 — a holding after an exhalation (Bahya or Bahir kumbhaka). There is also a facilitated proportion — 1:2:2:2, and also a quite simple — 1:1:1:1. A sad fact: many greenhorns from yoga always aspire for some reason to mastering pranayama with breath-holdings and begin their adventurous attempts exclusively with the main proportion! Acquiring invariably big troubles without which it is possible to do perfectly! It is better not to touch breath-holdings at all; it is unprofitable and dangerous, besides it is quite possible to manage without them!

Let us suppose, duration of an inhalation makes up ten seconds. Then the cycle will look so: 10:40:20:40 that is one breath per hundred ten seconds. But in fact a similar and even much more size of the cycle can be received freely and without holdings: an inhalation per 40 seconds, an exhalation per 80 — one breath per two minutes! Also there are not four points of cardiac rhythm disturbance:

— In the beginning of a holding, after with air in the lungs — after an inhalation;

— In the beginning of an exhalation, after the termination of the holding on an inhalation;

— In the beginning of a holding after an exhalation — without air in the lungs;

— In the beginning of an inhalation, after a holding on an exhalation.

It is not enough that that these changes of rhythm of heart rate are far from being useful for all, they also break the homogeneity of silence of mind. If the purpose of pranayama is a reduction of the respiratory rate so what for to overload oneself with holdings if it is possible to reach the purposein amore simple (and, hence, safe!) way?!

In my opinion, breath-holdings in pranayama are a later «prank» introduced into pranayama by Tantra and spread unreasonably out in it. Ascetics using pranayama as one of the kinds of tapas had during centuries practiced in complication of respiratory technics. At the same time, the principle of expediency was more and more lost, until there appeared a vicious circle: the more complicated the algorithm is, the more consciousness is involved in process of its performance, the more stable the usual mental tone is for which removal pranayama, actually, is intended. There are also absolutely extreme methods, for example murchchha — breath-holding right up to a faint.

Basic, the most simple and effective is the full yogic breath (hereinafter FYB). Being mastered, it provides all for the sake of what the most exotic kinds of pranayamas were created; in addition, technology of FYB is also based on the principle of «ou-way». As opposed to breathing with breath-holdings, at mastering FYB there are no:

— Difficulties as the new stereotype of breathing is formed naturally and gradually;

— Control of the respiratory process, opposite — it turns to means of deactivation of consciousness;

— Quadruple disorder of the cardiac rhythm on an input into holdings and an output from them;

— Disorders of even rhythm of the breathing;

— Problems with muscular relaxation which directly depends on the tone of consciousness supervising (in the beginning of mastering!) the respiratory process.

There is known the law called, «Occam’s razor» (there was such Franciscan monk-philosopher William lived in 1285 — 1349, he was born in a small village Occam, county Surrey, Southern England). It sounds so: «Non sunt entia multiplicanda praeter necessitatem» («Entities should not be multiplied beyond what is necessary»). FYB answers exactly this principle, as well as all practice of yoga as a whole. If to compare FYB with other hypoventilation pranayamas, their fancifulness is visible to the naked eye. If I can most probably reach the purpose in a more simple and safe way, for example, using FYB, holdings are simply not necessary.

As concerns the separate breathing (with blocking one nostril), its effect is distinct from the same… in FYB, but it arises of itself in practice of asanas, for example, in twisting poses where one lung is always compressed more than another.

For the especially unbridled individuals I shall cite the basic moments of the safety procedure at breathing with holdings to minimize, at least, the harm put to themselves.

The first: attempts of holdings can be begun only after mastering the deep full relaxation.

The second: if after termination of an inhalation or an exhalation there are spontaneous pauses – do not pay to them attention.

The third: at holding on an inhalation it is forbidden to transform the lungs into the closed space, blocking the larynx. In this case all weight of the thorax (and in sitting position — also of the whole thoracic girdle) «hangs» over the closed volume of air. Intra-abdominal and intrathoracic pressure rises at the same time, what is extremely undesirable. Rima glottidis always should be open — at the holding both on an inhalation and on an exhalation, though in sense of harm which can arise at errors of performance, the holding on an exhalation is less dangerous.

The fourth: no efforts in the body and tension in consciousness, kumbhakas should be absolutely comfortable!

The fifth: they never should be volume limiting, especially on an inhalation, it will be told about that below.

The sixth: after completion of the breath-holding on an inhalation, before the beginning of an exhalation one should a little «make the finishing inhalation», and only after that begin an exhalation. Similarly, leaving the holding after an exhalation and before the beginning of an inhalation, one should a little «make the finishing exhalation», and only after that it is physiologically tobegin an inhalation.

The seventh: the fact of the holding itself should not in any way have an effect on smoothness and rate (speed) of an inhalation and an exhalation after its termination.

If one takes skilfully into account all above-listed, side effects will be minimal. By no means try to be guided  in pranayama (as well as in something else) by texts of «yogi Ramacharaka»; it is not that information on which basis one can achieve success.

Now I shall cite an algorithm of the full yogic breathing (FYB) (without holdings), it is most accessible for beginners and is not less effective thanagreat number of other types of pranayama, far more complex and dangerous.

General recommendations, advice, and warnings:

Professional («true») yogis usually carry out pranayama in the morning, in the evening, at midday and at midnight, but for amateurs it is sufficient once a day.

Respiratory practices of yoga are forbidden at:

—    Organic cardiac damages;

— Blood disorders (leukaemia, hemophilia, thromboses, thrombophlebitises, and disorder of acid-base balance)

—    Hypertension intracranial and eye pressure;

—    Problems with diaphragm;

—    Retinal detachment;

—    Chronic inflammation of middle ear, lungs, acute states of   

      peritoneal organs.

And also:

— After heavy craniocereberal injuries, brain fever;

— After abdominal operations.

FYB is not recommended at a strong adhesive process, disturbances of body image, acute neurotic states, adaptationbreakdowns, high-grade vegetative and vascular or neurocirculatory dystonia according to hypertonic type, hypertension — all listed contra-indications are constant.

Temporary contra-indications are almost the same as in practice of asanas; one should not carry FYB out at:

— Strong physical weariness,

— Overheating or overcooling;

— Medicinal intoxication;

— In parallel with acupuncture or shiatsu;

— Temperature of over thirty-seven degrees;

— When children are younger than fourteen years;

— After the second month of pregnancy;

— Strong or painful monthlies.

After alcohol drinking till the beginning of pranayama should pass not less than two days;

After bath or sauna the interval should make up not less than six hours.

Incompatible with pranayama are smoking and drug use. Not less than four hours should pass after a tuck-in till the beginning of FYB. Pranayama is forbidden at multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, neuroinfections, psychogenic disorders, malignant neoplasms. If there is a chronic process in the lungs or asthma, the respiratory practice of the patient should without fail be corrected by an expert.

It is desirable to carry out full breathingat one and the same time, in one and the same place, in one and the same pose. It is permissible to do it in the evening, after work, as a means of rehabilitation.

FYB can be carried out right after practicing asanas for extension and flexibility and a five-minute Shavasana. If the training is made with emphasis on force (for instance — «standing» asanas complex), it is better to accomplish FYB either before it or at some other time.

The place should be clean, silent, moderately sunlit (to practice pranayama and the same as asanas in the full blaze of the sun is forbidden!), without any sharp or unpleasant smells. There is an opinion that pranayama is senseless in a big city as lungs will not receive anything except for harm from it. But the Himalayas for all will not suffice, as well as coasts of the Crimea. We have to deal with what is around. Therefore before FYB, it is necessary to blow your nose, to air the room, to make a damp cleaning and to light an «easy» aromatic stick. It will be enough to provide the minimal suitability of air if you only have not settled down directly under an exhaust pipe.

Pose: you may use a pose of your own choice — Shavasana, Padmasana, Siddhasana or the «swastika» pose. Eyes are always closed, breathing only through the nose (except for «sitali»); it is considered in yoga that to breathe through the mouth it is the same as to eat with the nose.

If the last is stuffy, so before performance of FYB it is necessary to rinse it by warm water with some salt. If it does not help, any drops are allowable, except for those which dry the mucousmembrane. It is necessary to be covered in winter by something easy, but warm in order to cool by no means down (This is even out of the question that one can freeze slightly while practicing yoga!). In the daytime one should put on eyes an easy bandage that light did not infiltrate through the eyelids.

Clothes should be free, it is better not synthetics, costume jewellery only from woodcan be retained, and glasses must be removed. There should not be any disturbances; for the time of FYB it is necessary to disconnect phones, to neutralize relatives and domestic living creatures.

It is recommended to master FYB exclusively in Shavasana; there are not many people capable unprepared to stay comfortably in Padmasana from ten minutes up to half an hour. Other poses intended for meditation and pranayama look as though easier, but it only seems that way, and in any of them it is necessary to remain without tension and with a straight back. As a rule, those, who are not familiar with yoga, simply cannot settle in recommended poses conveniently and for a long time. Therefore Shavasana is the most advantageous position as to relax in it is the easiest thing.

If FYB is done in the evening, practice always should be begun with a relaxation. To come tearing along after work, to collapse on the floor and to start pranayama at once — that won’t cut any ice as Juz Aleshkovsky would tell. Moreover, the respiratory practice itself should deepen the relaxation; otherwise it — practice — is not mastered or performed incorrectly.

Shavasana is advantageous because exactly in this position air spreads in the lungs in the optimal way, though asthmatics can carry out FYB also sitting, half-leaned back, with the straight back.

So, technics. Full breathing begins with a full exhalation. Then, lying in Shavasana,we beginbreathing with the stomach. The abdominal wall at the same time sticks out upwards; it is the stage of an inhalation which conditionallycan be named low breathing. At the second stage the stomach stops movement; now the area of the solar plexus goes upwards, lips of edges (middle lobes of the lungs are filled with air) slightly part, it is middle breathing. And, at last, in the third phase of an inhalation (so called top breathing) the whole thorax extends, and at the same time it should move upwards (in Shavasana) and forward (in sitting poses), but not part to sides. In completion of an inhalation collar bones slightly rise.

Let’s note at once that all these phases are conditional, they are brought into the description only for visualization. Actually an inhalation is carried out together, by a single smooth wave as well as an exhalation.

One of the peculiarities of the inhalation consists in necessity of the consecutive inclusion of respiratory muscles of abdominal, normal thorax breathing, and the additional ones. The first two muscular groups are arranged so that the maximum tension of one of them blocks inclusion of another. At extreme situations the heightened need of an organism for oxygen is provided by additional respiratory muscles. The most part of the lungs (the lower part) is stretched by reduction of the diaphragm what leads at the first stage of an inhalation to outpouching of the abdominal wall. Then there are included the muscles, lifting «free edges». The maximal outpouching of the stomach does not give any opportunity for a  high-grade inclusion  of middle breathing, just therefore each phase of inhalation should not be brought up to the limit!

The second peculiarity: on the depth, an inhalation is never carried out «as far as it would go»; it is a very important point! On the one hand, the lungs should snap into action about ninety percent of «capacity», on the other -the full respiratory satisfaction should accompany that. It would be possible to inhale more, but one would not like, there is no need. Exactly such course of events is correct. If constantly to do an inhalation as far as it will go, it is a direct way to emphysema (a pathological expansion of alveoluses) what quite often happens with enthusiasts, having believed «yogin» Ramacharaka.

The following important detail is the full physical and mental relaxation on an inhalation, an exhalation, and in natural pauses (if there are those). Beginners’ «superfluous» muscles, not having any attitude towards the respiratory process, always snap into action; for example, on an inhalation the waist involuntarily curves upwards.

An exhalation also begins with the stomach (if after an inhalation there is a short natural breath-holding, one should not focus one’s attention on it) and occurs so: keeping the thorax in immovability (that its form which it has received after finishing of an inhalation), we simply release the stomach, and the abdomen wall starts to fail smoothly downwards, in direction to the backbone, it is the firstphase. Then, when its movement naturally was exhausted, the second phase begins — the thorax itself sinks in, when its movement has ended; the third phase: «residual» air is superseded from the lungs by an easy push of the abdominal wall.

This push, which is carried out by reduction of abdominal muscles, should not be accentuated, but as though a «virtual» one, it is more likely designated, the force value in it does not break the general relaxation. If after an exhalation the natural pause arises before an inhalation, it is also not necessary to pay attention to it.  

By no means one should draw inhalation and exhalation up tocount, breathing should be free from the conscious control. We only change slightly the pattern of the natural process, the organism gradually adapts and there is a new respiratory stereotype.  

Let’s address to parameters which should be traced until this stereotype will be formed.

The first (technics) and the second (relaxation) had been analyzed above.

The third parameter is the control of time of the respiratory cycle. It can be external or internal. The external one is always defective; the glance at the clock disturbs homogeneousness of consciousness. In addition, eyes during performance of pranayama should be closed. There remains the audio control by a timer or metronome, but again it puts out the mental relaxation. The silent counting the seconds during mastering FYB is allowable and convenient as a means to distract thoughts, further it goes «on the bottom» of attention and does not distract. To make sure of conformity of one’s subjective counting seconds to real time, one can periodically carry out the  control over the control, noting down time in the beginning and at the end of practicing and comparing then the real proportion with the counting. As a result one should refuse the last; as a rule, it occurs of itself, naturally and unwittingly — in the course of time.

The fourth parameter is the homogeneousness of process. Breathing at rest goes usually smoothly, without discontinuity or ladder-shapedness. The new respiratory pattern should become such one. To trace smoothness one can only in one way: to lead the respiratory process to the area of perception. Therefore FYB is accompanied by a specific sound. What kind of sound is it and where does it arise? It is necessary to make a small effort in the nasopharynx and as thoughsinging on an exhalation some note, at the same time to «cut off power from» the vocal cords. Then there is only a silent hissing, a peculiar noise of air, filtered (both on an inhalation and on an exhalation) through the nasopharynx, it is quite distinct, and one should listen to it. On the continuity and tone of this noise (hissing), we feel character of breathing, its evenness, and homogeneousness. While the proportion is insignificant, this hissing can be heard by a staying near person. When it exceeds a minute and more, this sound can be caught only by practiciner himself, and his monotony is additionally relaxed by consciousness.

The fifth parameteris a calculation of quantity of respiratory cycles. As the attention already holds four factors simultaneously, there is only one real way of the counting – the tactile, after each inhalation — exhalation serially to pull slightly fingers, firstly of the right hand, then – of the left. When the circle is gone on both hands — ten cycles, two circles — twenty ones, it can be memorized. Or simply to direct attention to a corresponding finger, not moving it at all, it also remains in memory.

The sixth, major parameter is the heart. In the beginning of the one-time respiratory practice, cardiac performance still can somehow be felt, but if all goes as it is necessary, in some time it should disappear from perception. If it does not occur, it is better not to touch FYB without a skilled teacher.

If in process of FYB the heart in the beginning, as well as it is duly, has disappeared, but in a little while it was showed again, so for this day one should stop FYB. I emphasize: we are not speaking about tachycardia; cardiac performance in FYB should not be felt in any way!

The seventh parameter: when FYB is mastered (the new respiratory pattern had become automatic), in each respiratory «session», consciousness undergoes a number of standard changes. All of them come not suddenly, but gradually. At first, after some quantity of cycles consciousness starts to bluras in Shavasana, loses clearness. As a rule, this phenomenon is accompanied by perceptible warming up of the extremities, in some cases – of the face and/or hands.

In a little while the second moment is added — immersion.  In process of FYB as though you vanish somewhere, but it is not a sleep. The third moment — blinking — is an interesting phase: on an exhalation consciousness goes out as a candle in the wind, on an inhalation «catches fire». The exhalation – you disappear, the inhalation – you are again here. At the same time the vertical amplitude of the «saw-tooth pattern» of alpha rhythm on EEG sometimes decreases, sometimes grows. (Several such encephalograms had been written down during my performance of FYB in 1989 by I.V. Moldovanu, at that time chief of physiology laboratory of the Center for Vegetative Pathology in Moscow, headed in those days by the late Professor A.M. Vein.) And at last there is the fourth stage —a loss of control.   Consciousness starts to behave irregularly, there are memory blocks: suddenly you «have disappeared», then «returned», and it is impossible to recollect, what was before it and what should be farther, an inhalation or an exhalation. It is a sign of that practice has come to its natural end, it is necessary to lie in Shavasana or to fall asleep (if FYB is carried out directly before going to sleep).

If the mentioned phases (one, two, three — how many they usually turn out at the given stage of development) are for some reason not realized today, it is necessary to stop pranayama and to relax.

The dynamics of change of the respiratory proportion. Sooner or later a competent and regular practicing FYB forms a new respiratory pattern (stereotype). If earlier this pattern was operated by me personally, so since some moment, the body starts to breathe itself, consciousness needs only to observe this process from the side. And only when it becomes habitual, it begins a spontaneous lengthening of the respiratory cycle.

Usually it looks so: suddenly the exhalation spontaneously starts to be prolonged. The inhalation remains almost the same, answering to the current proportion and the exhalation lasts and lasts, and consciousness at the same time starts «float». When such  phenomenon had become constant (for instance, an inhalation lasts 10 seconds, and an exhalation — twenty five and more), it means that time has come to utilize the situation — to add a pair of seconds to an inhalation. Then the exhalation accordingly will increase by four seconds, and the disproportion will be chosen (taken into account). If at the same time all stages of the change of consciousness, achieved earlier, had remained intact, then the transition to a new proportion was made well-groundedly. Some time this new proportion will be constant, and then an exhalation again will start to be prolonged spontaneously, it will be necessary again to haul in the «slack», and it repeats so over and over again.

If time increase has stopped or during daily trainings there was a rollback (at the end of practice, cycle time became less than in the beginning), it is necessary to return to the previous proportion and to wait until lengthening of an exhalation becomes more stable, then to try cautiously to utilize it again. Thus the size of the respiratory proportion will gradually grow, until you reach the limit of personal opportunities. At the same time the dynamics of growth is not linear and unpredictable, especially after the boundary one breath per two minutes.

The next moment: if you did FYB before going to sleep, and obviously wanted to sleep, but after practice sleep disappeared, so there was an overexcitation, and it is wrong. There are days when breathing simply does not go, it is necessary to consider this coolly. If you have headache, anyone respiratory practices, as a rule, are contra-indicated; it is better to lie in Shavasana or to hear Nidra.

FYB is carried incorrectly out if during it there are yawning,       short breath, heat/cold, spreading in face, eyes, ears; dizziness,  nausea, sweating, palpitation, general discomfort, inconvenience, or respiratory difficulties. After FYB finishing it is recommended a short (5 — 7 minutes) Shavasana.

Let’s address to the volitional breathing control in asanas which, in my opinion, is erroneous and dangerous.

Sjoman describes trainings at P. Joyce’s school so: «Time of  staying in asana is counted by breathing and increases with growth of skill and endurance. The basis of it is a complex and confusing system of calculation of inhalations and exhalations» («Dynamic Practice in Classical Yoga», p. 97-98).

«In all asanas it is necessary to breathe only through the nose, instead of through the mouth. Do not hold breathing, going into the pose or being in it» («Enlightenment of Yoga», p. 50). «The incorrect idea that asanas and pranayamas should be practiced together since the very beginning of practicing yoga is widely spread. Experience of the author indicates that if a beginner keeps watch on perfection of the pose, he cannot concentrate on breathing. He loses also depth of performance («essence») of asana. Attain steadiness (sthirata) and tranquility (achalata) in asanas before introducing rhythmic breathing techniques into practice. When both asanas and pranayamas are practiced together, watch that perfection of the pose was not broken» («Pranayama: The Art of Breath», p. 34).

When B.K.S Iyengar had exclusively concentrated on work with the body, he «… had refused systems of vinyas and complex breathing, motivating it… that they distracted attention from asana itself». Sjoman marks: « … The form of asanas sequence which we find by P. Joyce has been developed during the period of teaching of Krishnamacharya. It was not traditional».

As ancient texts say nothing about voluntary control of breathing in asanas, consequently, it can be (depending on the form) compressed, squeezed, infrequent, more frequent — it is not important, the main thing — natural! Its parameters are defined by the form of everyone concrete asana, the main thing – no holdings, the respiratory process is continuous, no special attention should bepaid to it, itis not supervised! Otherwise, we have another obstacle to achievement of silence of mind and a danger of «overheat» of sympatheticness in asanas.

In works of group of authors of the Bihar School of Yoga in the lead of SSS, published before 1984 (everything what was issued after is not so significant), it is in details explained the sense of the concept called sensibleness. Its essence is that the attention in asanas is continuously kept on displays of activity of some function of an organism. As a way of going away from influences (stimuli) of the external world and ideas, connected with it, such sensibleness (only for the period of practice!) is rather productive, though it is possible to use it in full only after sadhaka has made out his sensations. In fundamental work «Kriya and Tantra» (in Russian — «Ancient Tantric Practices of Yoga and Kriya») SSS recommends to observe constantly breathing for calming consciousness also in everyday life what, in my opinion, is rather dangerous to mentality and health.

As a result of a competent practice of FYB the new (additional) respiratory pattern is formed gradually and spontaneously; will and desire does not work here. It is advantageous and useful to split attention in power poses («standing», for abdominal muscles, handstands, combined): having fixed its part for process of breathing by the completely weakened abdominal wall, we feel at once, how muscular work is optimized. In return, the relative independence of breathing from influences of load and form deepens even more the general relaxation – the practice becomes faultless.

SSS translates the forty ninth shloka of the second chapter of «Yoga Sutras» so: «At performance of an asana pranayama is called the termination of an inhalation and an exhalation». Revisionists have joyfully beheld in this statement the following: in asanas it is carried out also pranayama that is there is a volitional breathing control. Similar interpretation has untied hands of the maddest fringe of pseudo-yoga. But what for had Patanjali marked out in that case pranayama as a separate stage of the system? I think it follows from the formulation of text of Sutras about removal in asanas anyvoluntary tension — that in this case «termination» means NOT a stop or a holding, but the disappearance of the respiratory process from perception. And it is possible only in the event if there is a full easiness, breathing ceases to be perceived, pinpoints out of sight as it takes place at the full physical rest!

In his known comment on Sutras of Patanjali (the English title of the book is «Four Steps to Liberation»), SSS explains that the above-mentioned shloka concerns only meditative poses: «In Hatha Yoga it is clearly underlined that in [some] physical asanasone should not practice breathing control. In the certain poses it is unhealthy to control breathing» («Yoga Sutra of Patanjali», Minsk, 2006, p. 220).

Practicing asanas in the traditional key, we come to one of the variants of the development of affairs — to the termination of an inhalation and an exhalation (see about it the end of the previous chapter «Practice of Yoga along the Lines of Sutras of Patanjali»).

Sjoman in his private investigation tried to find sources of Ashtanga Vinyasa and has come to the conclusion that: «… The system of yoga of the Mysore Palace, going from Krishnamacharya, is a syncretic (combining incompatible and heterogeneous elements) teaching, being based generally on a gymnastics text, however submitting it under the name of yoga» («Dynamics Practices in Classical Yoga», p. 105).

In other words, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has no attitude to tradition. At the same time it is not my conclusion, which could be named by a reader biassed, but an estimation of the person, who had within the limits of the possible and opportunities studied the history of subject. One can reproach Sjoman only with that though his research is scientific, but not a scale one. It is a so-called small sample about what he repeatedly mentions, complaining of that to libraries, except for the Mysore, he is not admitted, books are not given out, and in general his enthusiasm falls on deaf ears (that is in general strange; it would seem, why not to help with the searches concerning the history of yoga?) As almost each maxim about non-traditionalness of yoga of Krishnamacharya comes to an end by the statement to the theme: «Novelty nowadays is normal and natural», the impression is created that Sjoman apologizes for single meaning of his conclusions to the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa.

Though B.K.S. Iyengar rejected the control of breathing in asanas, but he confessed: «In the 1930’s I taught asanas as physical exercises, not knowing, what needs to be taught and  what not … » («The Tree of Yoga», p. 48).

One should start FYB not earlier than after a year — a year and a half of regular practicing asanas and achievement of high qualityof mental relaxation. However there is also another important point, demanding a specification. It is known that the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, connected by the gas exchange in the lesser (pulmonary) circulation, participate in the respiratory process simultaneously. Blood comes here from the right ventricle of heart. Further, sated with carbonic gas, it passes through arteries of the lesser circulation and gets in capillaries of pulmonary vesicles where carbonic gas exchanges with oxygen. Thenoxygen-enriched, blood brings it through veins of the lesser circulation in the left ventricle of heart and farther in the greater circulation, from which oxygen comes into organs and tissues. In brief the schema looks so: heart — arteries of the pulmonary circulation — lungs — veins of the pulmonary circulation — heart. The certain pressure, without which pumping of blood is impossible, is supported in the pulmonary circulation as well as in the whole cardiovascular system.

The normal (systolic/diastolic) pressure inpulmonary arteries of an adult makes up 20/9 mm of mercury. If in veins of the pulmonary circulation it is raised, blood plasma effuses in alveoluses and bronchial tubes; the formed phlegm reduces the sectional area of airways and there is an attack of asthma, it is a so-called pulmonary edema or cardiac asthma.

Pathological process can develop also from the other side, from the lungs, in arteries of the lesser circulation. The picture at the same time is similar, plasma in exactly the same way is forced through from capillaries in alveoluses and it begins suffocation, but it is not any more pulmonary edema, it is bronchial asthma. Both bronchial and cardiac asthma is a consequence of hypertension of the pulmonary circulation. Consequently, pranayamas exclusively with slowing-down of breathing, FYB, udjayas, are healthy for asthmatics.

But how to define the pressure in the pulmonary circulation? Mark Yakovlevich Zholondz for the first time has paid attention to the fact that frequency of respiratory movements (FRM) is directly connected with pressure in arteries of the lesser circulation. The higher it is, the faster the person breathes, the less — the more slowly. Test of Zholondz expressed numerically looks so:

— Fifteen respiratory cycles per minute for the adult (older than 25 years) corresponds to the normal pressure in arteries of the lesser circulation;

— Less than fifteen testify to availability of hypotonia — the low pressure in the lesser circulation;

— Eighteen and more breathings per minute — hypertension — pressure in the lesser circulation is raised. The bronchial asthma is diagnosed at the high pressure; at the same time FRM makes up twenty five and more respiratory cycles per minute. Five-year children’s norm is twenty six breathings per minute, people in age between 15-20 years have about twenty. From here one can understand the efficiency of hypoventilation respiratory technics at bronchial asthma.  

But what occurs at the low pressure in arteries of the lesser circulation? It is usually accompanied by a disease called vasoneurosis (neurocirculatory dystonia). The person with such problem is always in the mode of an easy oxygen starvation. And as during night’s sleep blood circulation in the lesser circulation falls, and the local gas exchange at rest state is reduced by 20-30 %, oxygen starvation amplifies. From here are night asthma and panic attacks. Clearly that hypoventilation pranayamas are not recommended to hypotensive patients of the lesser circulation, in particular to subjects with vasoneurosis. Hyperventilation is useful for them, and for those whose pulmonary pressure is in norm — both. If a normotonic will carry out pranayamas of only one class, it can lead to the shift of acid-base balance of blood (at the big sizes of the cycle or holdings). Therefore healthy people should practiceboth types of pranayamas as complementary.

Initial values of an inhalation and an exhalation in FYB can be defined simply. Observing the above described algorithm, it is necessary to accept in the voluntaristic way an inhalation, for instance, five seconds; an exhalation — ten. Initial quantity of cycles is not more than twenty. Let us suppose, today, having carried out these twenty cycles, I have not felt anything special. The next day, at the same time, in the same place, in the same pose, I again do the same, but now with the proportion ten — twenty. If in some time there is a difficulty, it means the proportion is overstated. On the third day I use the proportion 8/16. Eventually, it is necessary to select such beginning that this score of FYB cycles were carried out, on the one hand, freely, on the other, as they say «chock-full», and it will be that thing when one should begin again from the beginning. At first it is allowable to carry out FYB every other day. Well, and then a routine work begins which goes on until there will be a new respiratory pattern what takes approximately half a year. After that (and sometimes in parallel) it begins the spontaneous time increase of a cycle, and then it is possible to increase the carried out at a time their quantity up to forty, adding one by one per week. As a rule, the proportion grows non-linearly, with unpredictable stops, and what final size it will reach — the Lord God of hosts himself does not know, but when the respiratory cycle exceeds two minutes, it begins another story.

What gives FYB, being mastered? At one breath per two minutes migraines, sleeplessness, colds, and pulmonary diseases  go completely away. Increase of carbonic acid in quantity in blood, tissues, and cerebrospinal fluid forwards vasodilatation what reduces displays of stenosis; nervous irritability is optimized. In the absence of hormone dependence FYB can cure asthma.

Once I had experimented with Bahya kumbhaka, it was an  interesting experience! In a little while after the beginning of the holding there is a need to inhale, and here it is necessary to release (weaken) continuously eyes. If it turns out well, for some instant consciousness dies away, as if youfall somewhere, then «come to the surface» — and you do not want to breathe any more. And only when on the sixth minute the measured beating of the heartfloats from corporal silence as an alarm bell, — it is time to leave the holding.

At regular practice of FYB dyspnea disappears, you may, if you like, run on the twentieth floor – you get a cramp in your muscles, legs «do not pull», but breathing is normal.

Pranayama causes merely a deeper calming (mental «polishing») that internal rest which is reached in asanas; it is considered that pranayama in rhythm one breath per five minutes leads to samadhi.

And the finishing stroke: consciousness is completely inhibited during maximum holdings, the intrapsychic communication (subject of samyama) becomes impossible, and therefore one should not absolutize pranayama as a means of enlightenment.

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