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I repeat, our organism is a very complicated apparatus. It has many organs with processes of different tempos and with different needs. You must either change everything or nothing. Otherwise, instead of good you might do harm.

Numerous illnesses arise just from this artificial breathing. In many cases it leads to enlargement of the heart, constriction of the windpipe, or damage to the stomach, liver, kidneys or nerves.

It very rarely happens that anyone who practices artificial breathing does not harm himself irraparable, and this rare case occurs only if he stops in time. Whoever does it for a long time invariably has deplorable results.

If you know every small screw, every little pin of your machine, only then can you know what you must do. But if you just know a little and experiment, you risk a great deal, because the machine is very complicated. There are many tiny screws which might easily be broken by a strong shock and which cannot afterwards be brought in any shop.

Therefore--since you have asked me for it--my advice to you is: stop your breathing exercises.

-Meetings With Remarkable Men, page 189

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This reminds me of when a friend recently encouraged me to do "fire breath" which is fast in and out breathing. I had seen it done in an old 60s Woodstock video too. While he was puffing himself delirious, I did the only breath exercise I do: slow deep breaths to help attain a relaxed state.

Longer deeper breaths I believe to be helpful - in fact, what I do sometimes is listen and simply count my heartbeats for each in - hold - out - hold breaths, forcing nothing but just counting. As a musician I have the advantage that if I can't hear some beats, I still have the pulse in my head for counting.

I believe that this "artificial breathing," deep long breaths are fine for the system. Comments?

Love and light being, Teo Cloud9 Cloud9

Have the heart of a gypsy, and the dedication of a soldier -Beethoven in Beethoven Lives Upstairs

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Hi Teo and friend here there or coming back from away.

I've had a fair amount of exposure to pranayama (breath science) over the years and I agree with all of your observations. Both Bastrika (bellows-like breath) and breath of fire Kapila-Bhati (skt."skull + shine") should be done only with proper preparation.

Asthanga yogis like to do breath of fire while doing postures like leg raises etcetera while doing vigorous breathing. I went to a teacher on Alcatraz Avenue at Yogalayam Ashram who did that method in a cold room without any other warmup. (I think she needs a disclaimer very badly and she looks pysically less healthy as the years wear on when I have seen her in public)!

Ashtanga Yoga like any other physical activity like dancing and require preperation and warm up. You don't put a beginning ballerina in toe shoes (unless you have a mind to injure her).

As to "artificial breating" like a long count of one for the inbreath followed by retaining the breath for a count of two and breathing out at a count of two can warm you up and be a good priming cycle. Sometimes you find other intervals but that is a typical one.

With all artificial breathing in yoga there is a period of meditation and relaxation either in savasana (corpse pose) or in a sitting or kneeling posture. (You'd need to do a lion coming up to expel the air through your wide open mouth with your eyes wide and "roar").

Iyengar's Light on Yoga addresses the whole subject quite completely and Teo is right that one should be careful.

I differ with Mr. Gurdjieff on the subject of seeing "artificial breathing" as a polar oppisite to something "experimental.

I rather see "natural breathing" as the opposite pole. In natural breathing which is the basis for Vipassana Meditation, one merely watches the movement of the breath at first acknowledging the rising during the inbreath and the falling during the outbreath of the chest and diaphragm.

You don't "make" yourself breathe, but rather let yourself breathe and in a matter of minutes you no longer will have to inwardly acknowledge the rising and falling but can simply breathe and look inward if one practices it in meditation.

I like Vipassana especially because it doesn't require an object like a mantra. We have enough internal conversation in our own heads that will subside just as well with the breathing as an object of meditation than to drown it out with a mantra. You can get stuck in a mantra like Little Johnny One-note.

We should listen to that conversation without seeing it as our "self" or something to be stuck in anyway. When you're watching your natural breathing all that stuff both makes sense and has an opportunity to go away - when accompanied with insight which is the purpose of 'vipassana' which translates: passive watchfullness.

I got a new link for Dhiravamsa who is now at http://www.dhiravamsa.com/ His books go much further on the subject than I have started here. I have taught both Yoga and Vipassana to students and friends and find that they both can be helpful in daily life. You don't even have to 'retreat' somewhere. But quiet indoor environments and beautiful outdoor places are the best for it.

To go full circle, I think you hit the nail on the head about the gentle approach being the preferable way.

"No pain no gain" is for athletes - and those of us who have read 'Soul on Ice' remember that metaphor of the "supermasculine menial under the rule of the omnipotent administrator."

I wonder how many more female Ben Johnsons will be sporting hair on their chests at this olympics.

My Thought of the Day: Be natural!
Thank you Teo.
This is an excellent topic and wonderful advice.

I love this part of your post Laughing

If you know every small screw, every little pin of your machine, only then can you know what you must do. But if you just know a little and experiment, you risk a great deal, because the machine is very complicated. There are many tiny screws which might easily be broken by a strong shock and which cannot afterwards be brought in any shop.

...And I know that my hardware-store does not sell any of the replacement parts. SystemError Frown

Thank you yogionefromobie for your reply. It is very informative and useful.

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