Yoga originated in India and is very popular these days among men and women, children and kids. It is practiced during pregnancy (prenatal yoga), for weight loss, better health and physical effects.

Yoga is a system of activities (exercises and lifestyle changes) to improve one’s physical and mental health. Among various styles, schools, and types of yoga, there is one traditional school that is devoted to excellent physical health: hatha yoga. Since this artilcle is mostly devoted to physiological health and diseases, we are going to focus on the health benefits of yoga, especially benefits of hatha yoga, which has two most essential types of practices: breathing exercises and practicing asanas (or yoga postures).

There are many known and claimed physical benefits of yoga. The various yoga postures strengthen your hands, shoulders, feet, legs, lower back, and abdominals. Yoga's stretching and breathing exercises may improve your flexibility, helping joints, tendons, and muscles stay in shape. Yoga may improve your endurance, especially the more athletic forms of yoga such as power yoga, ashtnga yoga, and Bikram yoga. These rigorous yoga practices follow a specific sequence of postures that become more challenging as you progress.

However, there is much more hidden in yoga and this hidden part was accessible to people in the past. If you find a yoga magazine published in the 1920’s, you can spot many ads where yoga teachers claimed that they could treat certain health problems (e. g., hypertension and asthma) with a money-back guarantee. Why could modern yoga teachers not do the same? Why do modern yoga students get only limited health benefits from their yoga practice?

The answer is in the understanding of breathing. I am not talking about any breathing exercises. Breathing is going on 24/7 and the body requires oxygen 24 hours per day. Hence, it is necessary to consider our unconscious or automatic breathing.

There are 3 classic manuscripts on Hatha Yoga written between 14th and 17th centuries: the Gheranda Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and the Shiva Samhita. What do they teach about breathing? According to ancient hatha yoga manuscripts, the goal of yoga breathing exercises is to "hold", "restrain", "suspend", and "calm" the breath pattern 24/7 (see the exact quotes from 3 most important yoga manuscripts on my web page Yoga Benefits).

Unfortunately, most modern yoga leaders have opposite views on unconscious or automatic breathing. Yoga leaders and teachers believe in the the deep breathing myth (our unconscious or automatic breathing pattern should be deep or large) and the toxic waste nature of CO2.

There are now thousands of medical research studies about proven benefits of carbon dioxide. Elevated carbon dioxide levels or hypercapnia is the key factor that explains exceptionally slow breathing rates in real yoga masters (only about 3 breaths per minute at rest or during sleep) and exceptionally high body oxygen levels. These discoveries were made by leading Soviet physiologist Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, MD, who created the legendary Buteyko breathing technique.

Author's Bio: 

Yoga Benefits provides quotes from 3 ancient Sanskrit manuscripts (Yoga Bibles) related to breathing and what we should do with it

Yoga Breathing - The Secret of Yoga Breathing (Dr. Buteyko's Discovery) has numerous quotes from Dr. Buteyko Lecture in the Moscow State University to leading Soviet scientists in 1969.

Hypercapnia : Pathology or Super Health? A web page about different meanings of too high CO2 level in the arterial blood: from emergency medicine and critical care to exceptional health of yoga masters.

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