Yoga, Prana, Breathing, and Why HOT Yoga is NOT Yoga
Unknown to the Western masses that take a yoga class or the teachers that are teaching those classes, there is a real fundamental knowledge that yoga asana is seen from and that physiology and knowledge have nothing at all to do with the modern western sciences take on it.
When you walk into a room that has been heated, your physiology changes gears. The body starts to try to keep cool enough. This is done by the dilation of capillaries, which stimulates blood circulation…. to cool off. When this is not enough and the heat rises too much in the system, the body starts to sweat in order to cool down. In the western world, we have the thought that this is good for working out. From the lens of yoga, you have now started to destroy the body by imbalancing prana and vitiating doshas. Western Ayurveda has even gone to the length of saying Bikram yoga is good for Kapha dosha individuals, but this is hardly Ayurveda or actual knowledge. This is what happens when you put superficial knowledge into the hands of practitioners.
When your system starts to sweat, you have reached the maximal level of exertion. In yoga, you do not exercise any further. To do so has major consequences that will be seen later in life.
There are a group of imbalances and diseases that sweating like this is contraindicated in. What I mean is going into a hot room purposefully and creating a sweat. This will cause complications of these diseases.
When someone is emaciated or has gone thru depletion
When one drinks alcohol
When one is pregnant
When one has bleeding diseases
When one is pitta prakriti
When one’s body is dry
When one has indigestion
When one has poisoning
When exhausted or tired
When there is pain
When there is burning urination
When there is hunger
When there is anger
When there is fear
In ascites, intestinal obstruction, bloating, and other diseases encompassed by the title Udara
When one has cough or cough with blood
When one is weak
When one has blurred vision
When one is anaemic
Beyond this, in Ayurveda there are factors in diagnosis and putting together treatment that is used in ‘swedana’ which is a treatment of steaming or making one sweat. When simply applying this knowledge logically to things like the time of year, swedana is calculated as per the individual as to the season it is. Example, if the season is moderately cold, and ones body is weak, a very mild steaming is done. In the hot season, only a very light svedana is done…. ever. Only if the season is cold and the patients body’s strength is strong would one every give strong swedana. What do you think walking into a 130 degree room is and then exercising? Even a room that is heated to 115 degrees. Actually, just heating a room to exercise is actually ludicrous by the knowledge of Ayurveda and yoga. Simply stated from a very superficial level, it is all very bad for the heart.
But lets go into it all from a different standpoint…
Yoga measures the span of life not by the number of years but by the number of breaths. You can take in a certain amount of Prana from the atmospheric air along with each breath. Vital capacity is the capacity shown by the largest quantity of air a man can inhale after the deepest possible exhalation. Of course this is going to be different for every being as per their individual health and many other factors too vast to write about in this post. i.e. nervous system, manas, perception of life, posture, etc etc etc
Sankhyabhih patidtishto deergha-sukshmah.”
Pranayama is regarded lengthy or subtle according to its three components, the external, the internal and the steady; the retention processes are modified by the regulations of space, time and number.
Yoga Sutras—Chap. II, Sa. 50
The speed of breathing and life span of various creatures is as follows:
Rabbit- breath 38- age 8 years
Pigeon- breath 37- age 8 years
Dog- breath 28- age 13 years
Goat- breath 24- age 14 years
Horse- breath 18- age 50 years
Man- breath 12- age 100 years
Elephant- breath 11- age 100 years
Snake- breath 7- age 120 years
Tortoise- breath 4- age 150 years
Today we breathe 15-16 times per minute. In ancient times, as per textual references, man breathed 11-12 times per minute. Human lifespan has decreased. Medical texts (5000 years ago) in Sanskrit have the lifespan at 100 years. Think about this.
Heat of the body is increased when the speed of breath increases. This in turn decreases ones life span as per vedic understanding of a human life. Animals who pant like a dog i.e. whose panting is faster, have shorter lives. A point to note here is that panting and increase of heat are directly related. When man gets fever his breathing rate increases. The opposite applies as well wherein if our breath is fast our body gets heated more. This increase of heat and fast breath shortens the life span.
Our lungs, on average, contract and relax around 25,000 times per minute. Every breath has about 500 cc+/- air because people breathe erroneously and unconsciously as well as most peoples posture and perception in the Western world is into the future with stress which tends to hyperextend the knees, cut off grounding, downward flow of apana (udvartana), and stop the diaphragm from contracting/functioning. This in turn makes the scalenes (a secondary muscle of breath in the neck) become the primary muscle to breath. This stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and creates a flight breath or a breath that only uses a minimal breath focused on a quick inhale and short tidal volume. An ideal body of “real” health, 1200cc+/- of air should be used. People inhale only less than half the amount. It makes the body weak and causes illnesses in time.
Sidebar: Coincidentally, stillness and silence increases the tidal volume. Not exercise, not movement. What is health?
Taking a deep breath means that the lungs get time to relax a bit and uses this little time to purify our blood. The heart also does not get overworked and will attain sound health. This is the cheapest secret of good health and best bet for a long life. Breathe. Slow and long. You can eat all the alkaline foods in the world and you will not change a thing with a short stressed out the breath that causes acidity.
So now let us address another piece.
“Mitaharam vina yastu yogarambham tu karayet, Nanaroga bhavettasya kinchid yogo na sidhyati”
Without observing proper moderation of diet, if one takes to the Yoga practices, he cannot obtain any benefit but gets various diseases” (Gheranda Samhita 5.16).
So my question is, what do you think moderation in the diet means because it is not from a knowledge base of Western nutrition since the western culture and its science did not even exist back then. If you think the Western nutritional and dietary science is more advanced your absolutely kidding yourself. Do you think doing a raw diet, paleoveda, an alkalizing diet, or following anything that is popular out there in the pop yoga/spiritual culture of the West is actually a yogic diet that is being referred to in the quote above? Since those diets in that pop culture are not by guidelines or knowledge/understanding of Ayurveda or what is known in India as a yogic diet (one example is the intake of only one meal a day), what do you think the outcome will be?
Still think that hot yoga rocks?