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SURVEY:
What do you want to know about breathing? Answered in our newsletter

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Hatha Yoga

Comments on breathing exercises

"Cautions to be judicious and respectful of breathing exercises abound in the literature on Hatha yoga. And it does indeed seem from anecdotal reports of explorers in this field that the rhythm and record of our respiration resonates throughout the body. It seems to accentuate whatever is in the mind, whether is be benevolence, or malevolence, harmony or disharmony, virtue or vice. On the negative side, experienced teachers report that quirkiness of any sort, gets accentuated in students who go too far. ‘It might be an abusive streak, laughing inappropriately, speaking rudely, flightiness, twitchiness, or nervous tics. Right to left physical imbalances also become exaggerated. Unfortunately, novices often close their ears to warnings; having become addicted to their practice, they will not be denied. Competent teachers of Hatha yoga will be watchful of these simple matters and wary of tutoring refractory students. Even the beginning exercises discussed in this chapter should be treated with respect.

Apart from psychological concerns, the special physiological hazards of breathing exercises is that they can cause problems without giving us traditional signals warning us against doing something harmful. In athletics, the practice of asana, experiments with diet, or just tinkering with any subject in the physical world, we depend on our senses to tell us that we are exceeding our capacity or doing something inadvisable. But breathing exercises are different. In that realm we are dealing with phenomena that our senses,  or at least our untutored senses, are often unable to pick up, even though they can still affect the body. And because of this, advanced exercises should be undertaken only by those who are adequately prepared.” H. David Couter, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga

"Hatha Yogic Breathing techniques "yoke" or connect the conscious mind to the primal instinctive regions of he brainstem" Ray Long MD, Scientific Keys, Volume 1; The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga.

From Mike: The key in my mind is how does one discern whether the "connection" Dr. Long refers to is avoiding the pitfalls outlined in Coulter's above comments.  My suggestion is to first develop your breathing.

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The breathing improvement techniques, practices and products outlined in this publication are extremely gentle, and should, if carried out as described, be beneficial
to your overall physical and psychological health. If you have any serious medical or psychological problem, however, such as heart disease, high blood pressure,
cancer, mental illness, or recent abdominal or chest surgery, you should consult your health professional before undertaking these practices.

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