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A man is born gentle and pliant.

At his death he is hard and stiff.

Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are brittle and dry.

Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.

The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.

An inflexible force meets with defeat.

A tree that is unbending is easily broken.

The hard and rigid will fall.

The soft and supple will overcome.
-Lao Tzu
Everyone has some familiarity with the interaction between physical
posture and emotional / psychic state, tension carried in the body is related to
mental / emotional tension, each of us develop unique character armours as
defensive strategies as we develop through life, this insight is not unique to hatha
yoga, Wilhelm Reich also observed this tendency, Reich believed that if this
character armour could be eliminated an individuals psychological rigidity
would also be remedied. Manfred Clyne (pianist and computer engineer) noted that
people will make characteristic gestures when listening to the work of particular
composers, suggesting a unity of Mind and Tissue.
Within Yoga the practice of asana (posture) is a means of working through the
grossest crystallisations of our psychic structure, whilst for many this will focus on
opening and releasing long held tension and rigidity, others may find that their
challenge is developing the strength and courage to face the world, rather than
adopting an attitude of almost pathological passivity, for these types who may be
able to place their legs behind their head from day one of practice the challenge

will be balancing their flexibility with strength, as they do this they will find greater
confidence to live from their heart. Flexibility is desirable, but for some the ability
to yield becomes maladaptive when it results in collapse when faced with an
obstacle rather than dynamic flow around the obstacle.
The different asanas of hatha yoga, which are without number, could be seen as
representing different psychic attitudes as manifested through the body (though
obviously somewhat unusual attitudes), a typical techno-industrial human being
may adopt a relatively limited number of different bodily positions during their day
to day lives, lying down, sitting, slouching, hunched over desk, standing, walking.
If not used the bodys muscles tendons and ligaments gradually atrophy and
shorten, with this limitation of physical mobility comes a limit in psychic freedom,
some will not wish to admit this to themselves, but generally it is so, a young child
has a naturally open mind and a naturally flexible body, as people age they tend to
become physically and mentally less flexible, often their psychic ossification
representing the crystallisation of their cultures perceived limits of possibility, and
when we grow up in a culture that is utterly deranged, fetishizing machines and
mechanical metaphors, living in rigid grid-work cities, disconnected from nature,
lacking in the most basic vision and imagination, escaping these mind forgd
manacles can be difficult, especially as those who do attempt to step outside of
the cultures established borders will quickly find that others, themselves damaged
by the culture react with accusations of insanity, telling the explorer that they are
mentally challenged, a kook, or accusing them of religious fanaticism. Another
world is possible.
Asana practice and stretching in general may be able to increase synthesis of ATP,
this appears to be a due direct physical effect on the cell structure, suggesting that
conventional ideas about ATP synthesis and physiology as a whole are mistaken
(Ulbrich and Ruegg 1971). Further the highly energised state of the cell is
associated with the capacity to relax, one of the indications of hypothyroidism
(chronic low energy state), is the Achilles reflex test, which if someone is
hypothyroid will show as an Achilles tendon that is slow to relax after stimulation.
Asana practice is likely to be able to assist in helping stressed de-energised cells to
return to a relaxed resting state, especially when combined with pranayama, as the
increased CO2 is known to improve muscle relaxation, this is no doubt due to its
capacity to restore the cell to healthy oxidative metabolism, resulting in decreased
intracellular pressure, shifting redox balance towards a more oxidized state,
accompanied by increased ATP synthesis, increased water structure and resulting
higher level of energy. This decreased intracellular pressure in Viktor Schaubergers
terms may be a result of a biological vacuum and a resulting inflow of ethericies
increasing cellular energy and structure (more on potential connections between
Schauberger and Peat in a later post).

That physical flexibility and energetic flexibility are intertwined is natural, as

Szent-Gyorgyi discusses in Bioenergetics (1957) there is a close relationship
between molecular conformation and electromagnetic forces, for example
haemoglobin and the Bohr effect, also see Lings Association-Induction hypothesis,
what is found at the molecular level also manifests at other levels.
Energy and structure are interdependent at every level.
-Ray Peat
There are some associations between general physical flexibility and heart disease,
individuals with low general physical flexibility were found to have increased
arterial stiffness, a known risk factor for heart disease (Yamamoto et al. 2009), a
separate study also found that stretching but not strength training, could improve
central arterial compliance (Cortez-Cooper et al. 2008), another study suggests that
resistance training worsens arterial compliance (Miyachi et al. 2004), so if you do
lots of strength training make sure you stretch as well. What is going on here, why
should this be so?
One possible factor is the involvement of the cortex of the brain which is known to
have a tonic inhibitory effect on muscles and nerves, if some one can learn to relax
one area it may facilitate the inhibitory action of the cortex on other areas. Vascular
tone is also regulated through sympathetic nervous activity, explaining all of this
through mechanical, binary all or nothing nervous activity seems not only difficult,
but contrary to the sensitivity of living experience.
It seems possible that what is seen here is an electromagnetic phenomenon, if
energy can be freed to move in one part of the body then they resulting increase in
flow will make energetic stagnation in any area less likely, the body here can be
seen as a coherent interconnected flowing electromagnetic emulsion. When there is
stiffness and energetic stagnation in one part it will effect the whole.
A healthy heart beat has some variability (though patterned fractally), an unhealthy
heart has a highly regular beat (decreased heart rate variability). The heart produces
the strongest electromagnetic field of any organ in the body and it seems likely that
it is involved in some key way with regulating overall electromagnetic coherence of
the whole being including its connection to the larger environment.
Gilbert Lings work suggests that muscular contraction is a state tending to be more
electronically saturated (reduced) than the relaxed resting state, that stretching can
increase ATP, which in Lings model serves to restore the relaxed high energy
resting state, by changing the electron cloud of proteins withdrawing electrons from
them, this seems to support the idea that muscular rigidity / pliancy is an

electromagnetic phenomenon. This state of greater electron density gives the cells a
negative charge causing them to accumulate calcium (Ca 2+), increased intracellular
calcium is associated with multiple diseases including heart disease, cancer,
Alzheimers and others.
Supporting metabolic efficiency will also work towards improving flexibility, as the
high energy state, with abundant ATP is the relaxed resting state, so eliminate antimetabolic factors such as PUFA, excess tryptophan, cysteine and methionine, keep
CO2 high, practice pranayama / qigong etc. Again that stretching could improve
arterial compliance, and that arterial stiffening is associated with
Ca2+ accumulation, which occurs in the low energy state, all of this suggests
that energy and structure are intimately interwoven at all levels.
This appears to support the work of Wilhelm Reich, who saw many diseases as
resulting from the inhibition of energy flow, whilst Reich called this
energy Orgone it seems that he was simply observing electromagnetic phenomena
as they occur in the human being. This inhibited energy flow tends to go along with
at least some rigidity in outlook. Energetic stagnation is essential to the
maintenance of a fascist culture, hence rigid posture, and goose-stepping troops. A
free energetically uninhibited human is beautifully dangerous to such deranged
cultures, although they usually get crushed, as history shows us (although it seems
that sometimes one manages to slip seemingly unnoticed through the black iron

The association between disease and energetic stagnation is of course found in

many traditional healing and human development systems, it is a seemingly
universal insight, only considered unusual and odd by the utterly deranged,
irresponsible, rigid, and mechanical reductionists.
Asana practice is not only exercise for the body, but also for the psyche, all
traditional cultures and healing modalities have recognised the interdependence of
body and mind, associating different bodily organs with different emotional states,
for example the association of the heart with love, the sense of heartache or
having a broken heart, or the common association between the liver and gall
bladder and the feeling of anger, we talk about people who are chronically angry as
having a lot of bile. The different postures affect the internal organs in different
ways sometimes compressing them and other times opening them, intense
emotional reactions are possible. Obviously yoga is not the only system to work
through and with the body, Qigong and internal martial arts present a similar
understanding of the mind-body continuum, any form of conscious physical

activity can be used similarly, whether it be dance, acrobatics or exploratory natural

It seems increasingly obvious that the ancient traditions and cultures have
understood Living-reality in much greater depth than the mechanically minded
reductionists, much of this understanding has been expressed in poetic sounding
language but this makes it no less accurate than complex chemical formulae or
mathematic equations.
Cortez-Cooper MY, Anton MM, Devan AE, Neidre DB, Cook JN, Tanaka H,
(2008), The effects of strength training on central arterial compliance in middleaged and older adults, Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil, 15(2), pp. 149-155.
Ho M-W, (2007), The Heartbeat of Health,
Miyachi M, Kawano H, Sugawara J, Takahashi K, Hayashi K, Yamazaki K, Tabata
I, Tanaka H, (2004), Unfavourable effects of resistance training on central arterial
compliance: a randomized intervention study, Circulation, 110(18), pp. 2858-2863.
Szent-Gyorgyi A, (1957), Bioenergetics, Academic Press Inc, New York.
Ulbrich M, and Ruegg JC, (1971), Stretch induced formation of ATP-32P in
glycerinated fibres of insect flight muscle, Experientia, 27(1), pp. 45-46.
Yamamoto K, Kawano H, Gando Y, Iemitsu M, Murakami H, Sanada K, Tanimoto
M, Ohmori Y, Higuchi M, Tabata I, Miyachi M, (2009), Poor trunk flexibility is
associated with arterial stiffening, Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, 297(4), pp.
Heart Hormones, Inversions, and Immortality

Marshalling the information needed to optimize our own

development runs counter to the program of our technicalscientific culture, which prefers to believe that degeneration is
programmed, while emergent evolution is unforeseeable. But, if
an optimization project is presented as a way to forestall the

programmed degeneration, it might succeed in becoming part

of the culture.
-Ray Peat

alphro yadi bhavedaghnirdahati tat-khat |

adha-irchordhva-pda khaa sytprathame dine || 81 ||
khachcha kichidadhikamabhyasechcha dine dine |
valita palita chaiva hamsordhva na dyate |
yma-mtra tu yo nityamabhyasetsa tu klajit || 82 ||

If he stints his diet, the fire quickly consumes [the body]. On the
first day he should stand for a moment on his head, with his feet
After six months, the wrinkles and grey hair are not seen. He who
practises it daily, for one yama (3 hours), conquers death.

-from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swatmarama (in reference to

the Headstand / Viparita karani Mudra).

Dharma Mittra in headstand

So yet again those degenerate Hatha Yogis obsessed by
the body and materiality are making outlandish and absurdly
inflated claims for their circus tricks, before we saw how they
claimed pranayama can cure all disease, now they expect prudent
and reasonable human beings to believe that standing on your
head will make you immortal, whatever next, yoga can turn you
into an Elf?
If you believe in a biology crafted out of the random chance errors
of a clockwork horror story red in tooth and claw then the claims
made by some Hatha Yogis as well as other devils might appear
insane, however taking another perspective on biology the picture
is very different. In an organismic model where the liquid

crystalline structure is generated and supported by the controlled

coherent fire of the respiratory whirlwind, where processes are
interconnected across all scales, then it might be possible to make
creative use of local effects to generate systemic changes which
further modify local processes. A range of relatively simple
techniques for generating creative constructive adaptation that is
capable of overcoming the organisms assimilated inertia might
make themselves available.
I believe that Hatha Yoga is an art that has discovered such
creative techniques, and increasingly the evidence exists to make
this case.
The Natriuretic peptides are a class of hormones secreted by the
heart, while they are named for the observation that they can
increase the urinary elimination of sodium they have a range of
much more interesting effects. A major stimulus for their release is
the stretching of the chambers (atria and ventricles) of the heart
(Espiner et al.1995).
There is some evidence that inversions (turning upside down)
cause an increased stretch in the chambers of the heart, as might
be expected. A study examining the circulatory effects of the head
down position showed increases in stroke volume, and cardiac
output and a decrease in pulse rate (Wilkins et al. 1950). A study
looking specifically at the yoga postures Sirshasana (headstand)
and Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) found a significant increase in
early left ventricle filling, a shortening of the isovolumetric
relaxation time and an increase in heart rate (Minvaleev et al.
1995). If inversions are stretching the hearts chambers then they
should be stimulating the release of the Natriuretic peptides, as

far as I am aware no studies have looked at this possibility so

there is some speculation here.
The Cardiac natriuretic peptides include six hormones stored as
three separate prohormones, Atrial Natriuretic peptide (ANP), Btype natriuretic peptide (BNP), and C-type natriuretic peptide
(CNP). ANP contains: long-acting natriuretic peptide (LANP), vessel
dilator, kaliuretic peptide, and ANP (Vesely 2006).
The Natriuretic peptides have a wide range of effects, they have
been shown to be anti-inflammatory, ANP reduced the secretion of
inflammatory mediators produced in response to bacterial
endotoxin /lipopolysaccharide (Kiemer and Vollmar 2001). Both
ANP and CNP reduced the expression of COX-2 and prostaglandin
E2 (PGE2) in response to lipolysaccharide (Kiemer et al. 2001). Antifibrotic , mice lacking BNP develop multiple fibrotic lesions
(Tamura et al. 2000), BNP also appears to inhibit the profibrotic
TGF- and increased collagen 1 and fibronectin proteins (Kapoun
et al. 2004). ANP appears to have a tissue stabilising effect that
prevents leakiness, ANP inhibited VEGF (vascular endothelial
growth factor), protected the integrity of the blood-retinal-barrier
of rats, ANP also significantly reduced the damage done by laser
injury (being a lab rat sucks) ( Lara-Castillo et al. 2009). ANP has
been found to defend the endothelial barrier from histamine
induced permeability (Frst et al. 2008).
These cardiac peptides appear to have some significant anticancer activity, in 24 hours, Vessel dilator, LANP, Kaliuretic
peptide and ANP decreased the number of human pancreatic
adenocarcinoma cells in culture by 65%, 47%, 37% and 34%
respectively. Vessel dilator completely stopped the growth of

human pancreatic adenocarcinomas in mice, further decreasing

the size of even palpable large tumors, after 1 week vessel dilator
decreased the size by 49%, LANP by 28%, and kaliuretic by 11%,
in placebo treated mice the tumor had increased in size by 20
These hormones also decreased the number of breast
adenocarcinoma cells by 60%(vessel dilator), 31%(LANP), 27%
(kaliuretic), 40% (ANP). Other cancers; decreased cell numbers of
small cell lung cancer, squamous lung cancers, and malignant
tumors of the heart (Vesely 2005).
A study examining the effects of CNP on proliferating smooth
muscle cells found that CNP induced growth inhibition and
promoted re-differentiation into highly differentiated smooth
muscle cells rather than the less differentiated proliferative phase,
CNP improved healing accelerating re-endotheliazation preventing
neointima formation (Doi et al. 2001).
The cardiac peptides also decrease some hormones associated
with stress, perhaps most interestingly prolactin (Samson et al.
1998), but also ACTH which contributes to cortisol (a catabolic
hormone released by stress) release (Fink et al. 1991).
Swatmarama states that headstand can reverse greying of hair,
and prolactin has been implicated in hair loss (Foitzik et al. 2006).
These effects of the cardiac peptides, anti-inflammatory, tissue
stabilising and anti-cancer suggest that it might be appropriate to
view these hormones as in some sense bioenergetic kosmotropes
that increase the coherence of the organism, as Energy and
structure are interdependent, at every level* then
substances that increase structural coherence should in some way

increase energy as an increase in structure should allow for an

increase in energy flow which would in-turn allow for structural
ANP and BNP have been found to induce mitochondriogenesis
(making new mitochondria) , and to increase uncoupled
respiration, that is to increase respiration without producing ATP,
instead increasing heat production, and increasing energy
expenditure. White adipose tissue appeared to become more like
brown fat tissue, brown fat contains more mitochondria than
white, and is especially abundant in infants, increased levels and
activity of brown fat has been linked to resistance to metabolic
diseases such as diabetes and obesity (Bordicchia et al. 2012). A
separate study found that BNP protected against diet induced
obesity and insulin resistance and increased muscle mitochondrial
content (Miyashita et al. 2009).
With the prevalence of mechanical thinking in biology some
people might think that increased metabolism means increased
wear and tear on the lumbering bio-robot that is piloted by their
consciousness (probably an illusion generated by those selfish
genes), if the organism is generated by the metabolic flow of
energy, the increased metabolism would be expected to result in
increased renewal and rejuvenation. In mice individuals with
higher metabolisms and greater mitochondrial uncoupling lived
longer (Speakman et al. 2004). Somewhat obviously disuse of a
tissue results in atrophy, and mitochondria demonstrate increased
reactive oxygen species (ROS) and decreased respiratory

Given the evidence for the role of intensified metabolism in

evolutionary progress it seems especially difficult to take seriously
any attempt to market torpor as a preferable biological state.
Mammals have more intense metabolisms than reptiles from 2 to
5 times more, possibly even greater in the case of some humans,
mammals also have greater thyroid activity than reptiles (Hulbert
and Else 1981). This increased metabolic activity in mammals has
required adaptative complexification of the cardiopulmonary
system to support it, this is one of the clearest examples of
aromorphosis (a raising of the shape making a higher level of
function available), an increased metabolism and increased
oxygen use required a development and complexification of the
Heart and circulatory system, the generation of a four chambered
heart made it possible to operate at a higher, more generous
energy level. Generally, fish have a two chambered heart,
amphibians three chambers, two atria and one ventricle, from
here things get a little more complicated as many species of
reptile have varying degrees of ventricular septation, meaning
that blood flow can complexify and increase in efficiency but not
to the degree of birds, and mammals which have four chambered
hearts (Jensen et al. 2013).

Morphology of the heart of various animals (Jensen et al. 2013)

I think the case can be made that the cardiac peptides are sorts of
morphogen, substances that are involved in biological structure
generation and regulation, which would be dependent on available
energy, decreased energy tends to result in a sort of organismic
shrinking, and poor circulation, the effects of an energy surplus
can be felt after a large meal, a sort of pleasant expansive,
metabolic flush, an increase in circulation, pranayama also can
produce such an effect, which should result in increased stretch
being experienced in the heart. It seems reasonable to suggest
the heart as sort of morphogenic regulator.
These Cardiac peptides are higher in the foetal circulation than
adults, and the foetal heart expresses higher levels of these
hormones than the adult heart. Peaks of ANP and BNP during
gestation coincide with significant moments during cardiac
morphogenesis (Cameron and Ellmers 2003).
These peptides also appear to play a role in bone remodelling,
CNP is a potent stimulator of osteoclast activity demonstrating a
role in bone remodelling (Holliday et al. 1995). CNP also
stimulates chondrocyte proliferation, cartilage matrix production
and long bone growth in foetal rats (Mericq et al. 2000).
If these cardiac peptides are sorts of morphogen then they might
be expected to be increased by other signs of increased energy
availability, such as increased thyroid activity and steroid
hormones this appears to be the case, thyroid hormones T3 and
T4 (T3 being more active) and testosterone dose dependently
stimulated ANP (Matsubara et al. 1987). ANP at least in some
studies stimulates testosterone production (Pereira et al. 2008), I
think this points to the possibility of some self-intensifying positive

feedback loops at least when energy is available to nurture them.

Life appears to desire to be ever more.
Energy is the only Life

Pranayama, carbon dioxide, mitochondria, coherent energy flow, regeneration

and individuation

yvadvyu sthito dehe tvajjvanamuchyate |maran am tasya

nis hkrntistato vyum nirodhayet ||
So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life.
Death consists in the passing out of the (breathing) air. It is,
therefore, necessary to restrain the breath.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Some terms:
Bohr effect: haemoglobins oxygen binding capacity is inversely
related to carbon dioxide concentrations, meaning that without
CO2 oxygen cannot be released into tissues, as it cannot be
released from the haemoglobin molecule.
Haldane effect: deoxygenation of the blood increases its
capacity for carbon dioxide.
Mitochondria: cellular organelle, often considered the energy
factory / power plant of the cell.
What could be more important to understand than biological
energy? Thought, growth, movement, every philosophical and
practical issue involves the nature of biological energy.
-Ray Peat.
It is often claimed in Hatha yoga that pranayama is capable of
curing all diseases (though improper practice may cause disease),

to a supposedly rational and sceptical westerner believing in such

things as viral diseases, autoimmune diseases, and genetic
diseases, this may seem an outrageous claim however there are
reasons to believe that this claim is actually quite sound and
entirely within the realms of scientific explanation, admittedly
much of the science required to explain it draws on the work of
scientists whose work has been marginalised by the corporate
pseudoscience which has become the norm in todays
Many studies demonstrate an association between chronic
hyperventilation / increased respiratory volumes and multiple
diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma,
epilepsy (see the site This
hyperventilation increases the loss of carbon dioxide, which is far
from being a waste product of respiration, the human organism in
health maintains a carbon dioxide level of around 7%,
atmospheric carbon dioxide is at 0.036-0.039%, an enormous
One of the most easily identified mechanisms underlying these
observations is inhibition of the Bohr effect, whereby
haemoglobins oxygen binding capacity is inversely related to
carbon dioxide concentrations, so high carbon dioxide
concentrations produced as a result of efficient oxidative
metabolism allows for oxygen release where it is needed, at least
when the system is functioning in an organised manner. When
someone hyperventilates they breathe out large amounts of
carbon dioxide and inhibit the Bohr effect, paradoxically over
breathing results in decreased cellular respiration, even though
the blood may be carrying significant quantities of oxygen. This

results in increased rates of glycolysis, an inefficient form of

energy (ATP) production, resulting in the formation of lactic acid,
this further exacerbates the situation as lactic acid appears to
compete with carbon dioxide in the blood resulting in increased
losses of carbon dioxide, whereas carbon dioxide inhibits lactate
production, some of these effects are likely mediated through
acid-base homeostasis (Cohen et al 1990). This is in many
respects the respiratory pathology that Otto Warburg noted as the
defining feature of cancer, aerobic glycolysis, the production of
lactate in presence of oxygen.
This aerobic glycolysis is a fundamental respiratory defect, and
occurs whenever the mitochondrial oxidation of pyruvate is
inhibited, and there are multiple agents capable of inhibiting this
efficient energy production, however they all appear to function in
fairly common manner, that is they stimulate inflammation, or
cellular swelling and oedema. These agents include estrogen,
histamine, bacterial endotoxin, polyunsaturated fatty acids,
serotonin, and lactate itself. Anaerobic glycolysis occurring as a
result of intense physical exertion is adaptive with those actions of
lactate that could be considered pathological in other
circumstances acting to assist in the organisms adaptation to the
stress, for example lactates stimulation of angiogenesis (Hunt et
al 2008) can be seen as a functional signal assisting in bring
increased blood to an area undergoing adaptive growth, of course
in other circumstances the signals involved, vascular endothelial
growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor beta (TGF beta),
interleukin-1 (IL-1), and hypoxia-inducible factor (hif-1alpha) are
all associated with such pathological conditions as cancer.
However that represents a fundamentally out of control situation,

in a state of health these signals of inflammation and

dedifferentiation are inevitably calmed by the overall coherence of
the organism and its environment, the fact that so many chronic
inflammatory conditions have become so common today, should,
if people were paying attention serve as a warning that our
civilization is dangerously incoherent.
Ok, so how does this swelling inhibit mitochondrial respiration and
what does this have to do with pranayama?
To explain that we are going to have to look at some alternate
models of cell physiology. Models such as those proposed in Mae
Wan Hos The Rainbow and the Worm (2008), Gerald Pollacks
Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life (2001), and yes, of course the
work of Ray Peat. They present a view of physiology and the
organism that is oddly enough Living, massively interconnected
doing away with deranged ideas such as the interactions of
enzymes and substrates through processes of random diffusion,
and models of ion partitioning that require fatty bi-layer
membranes with ever increasing membrane channels and pumps,
powered by infinite ATP Androids dancing (robot style, obviously)
on receptor heads. Estimates suggest, despite the efforts of funky
androids, these imaginary pumps and channels simply cannot be
provided with enough energy to function as they are claimed to
based on current popular models. Instead of the bizarre infernally
complex mechanistic biological models currently popular with
interactions mediated through specific lock and key mechanisms,
diseases often being seen as defects in very specific mechanisms.
An alternative presents a model wherein intracellular (and
extracellular) water is structured by its electronic interactions with
proteins into gel-like liquid-crystalline arrays.

When the cell swells inappropriately this liquid crystalline matrix is

disrupted, and communication and energy flow through the cell is
also disrupted, mitochondria are left unable to function and the
cell is left with no choice but to produce ATP (typically thought of
as the energy molecule) via glycolysis. Within this model a
commonality in disease origin is this disruption of structure and
coherence and the concomitant inhibition of energy flow.
One area where the liquid crystalline nature of the living
substance is readily apparent is the lens of the eye, where
coherent structure is absolutely essential to its biological function,
evidence for the interaction of coherence and metabolically
efficient energy flow can be seen in studies demonstrating
increased lactate in cataracts (areas of opacity within the lens),
suggesting that interference in energy flow disrupts structure
and / or disrupted structure inhibits energy flow resulting in the
more primitive glycolytic metabolism, the disrupted structure
decreases transparency, further cataracts are less common at
higher altitudes suggesting the possible involvement of the
Haldane effect and increased retention of carbon dioxide caused
by the decreased oxygen at high altitude (Brandt et al 1982).
Ray Peat suggests that the effect carbon dioxide has on
haemoglobin, the conformation change that allows for the release
of oxygen into tissues is a general electronic effect, and that
carbon dioxide is capable of acting similarly on other proteins,
that in the words of Gilbert Ling carbon dioxide is a cardinal
adsorbent, that is a substance exerting a powerful controlling
influence on the protein conformation and the associated water
structure, acting to structure water in the cell eliminating swelling
and oedema, restoring order and coherence to the excited cell.

Evidence for carbon dioxides capacity to act in way that restores

order and coherence to the cellular structure can be seen in its
capacity to protect the brain from hypoxia (Vannucci et al. 1995),
inhibit formation of ROS (Kogan et al. 1997), stabilise mast cells
inhibiting histamine release (Strider et al. 2010), stabilising nerve
cells (Krnjevic et al. 1965), its inhibition of lactate formation
(Cohen et al. 1990). These attributes (especially the inhibition of
ROS and lactate) suggest that carbon dioxide is acting to optimize
energy production, preventing electron leakage during redox
reactions, favoring efficient coherent mitochondrial oxidative
metabolism. The use of carbonic anhydrase inhibitors in reducing
tumor growth supports the importance of carbon dioxide as a
fundamental regulator of metabolism (Supuran and Scozzafava
Carbon dioxide has many other physiological actions including,
vasodilation (Fox and Ryder 1979), given this it is obvious then
that hyperventilation would lead to hypertension and other
circulatory diseases, as well as playing a role in the aetiology of
neurodegenerative diseases, both through its promotion of
circulation, and optimizing mitochondrial function, both of which
will be inhibited by hyperventilation. CO 2 is also involved in
broncodilation (van den Elshout et al. 1991), and muscle
relaxation (Hoyle 1960). Carbon dioxide appears to play a role in
bone mineralization, and whilst metabolic acidosis has some
associations with bone loss, respiratory acidosis (high CO2) does
not show the same associations and may be protective (Bushinsky
et al. 1993). Perhaps this would explain the stories of yogis and
internal martial artists having strong bones. Carbon dioxide seems
to play a key role in the secretion of hydrochloric acid by the

stomach (Davies 1951), this supports the assertion that

pranayama increases the digestive fire. Carbon dioxide protects
against lung injury both prophylactically and therapeutically
(Laffey et al. 2003, Salmon and Hotchkiss 2007).
Yandell Henderson (1940) saw that:
Carbon dioxide is the chief hormone of the entire body; it is the
only one that is produced by every tissue and that probably acts
on every organ.
However I suspect even this is massively understating things,
carbon dioxide is something truly miraculous, Henderson also
called carbon dioxide the breath of life, this phrase represents
a much clearer and more accurate understanding of CO2, and its
importance to biology. For carbon dioxide to have so many effects
on physiology it must be interacting with our physiology in a
fundamental way, the suggestion that it is a cardinal adsorbent
or perhaps a kosmotrope seems reasonable.
Given this central importance of CO2 in biology, as well as the
increased respiratory rates reported in many chronic diseases it
should be becoming apparent how pranayama may very well be a
If the cancer cell is used as a paradigmatic example of a cell in a
disordered chaotic condition, wherein the swelling characteristic of
this disorder is produced by its overly reduced state (having an
excess of electrons, and hence being alkaline), carbon dioxide is
capable of acting as a Lewis acid and withdrawing electrons from
the excited proteins, the oxygen delivery facilitated by carbon

dioxide further resolves this condition by restoring healthy

oxidative metabolism.
Further evidence for the centrality of carbon dioxide as a
fundamental mediator of the life force can be seen in its
essentiality for organisms that can survive without oxygen, but
who become incapable of multiplication when deprived of carbon
dioxide (Rahn 1941), this suggests that carbon dioxide may be
more fundamental to life than oxygen.
Ray Peat in the article Mitochondria and Mortality suggests that
carbon dioxide acts in some way to call mitochondria into
existence, suggesting the possibility that carbon dioxide through
its alteration of the shape and electrical affinities of haemoglobin
and other proteins, increases the stability of the mitiochondrial
coacervate, causing it to recruit additional proteins from its
environment and its own synthetic machinery to grow or multiply.
To support this proposition Dr. Peat points to the effects of
increased thyroid hormone and the effects of high altitude on
increasing mitochondria, thyroid acting to increase metabolism
and hence increasing carbon dioxide production and high altitude
acting via the Haldane effect whereby deoxygenation of the blood
increases its capacity for carbon dioxide.
If Ray is right and carbon dioxide does act to call mitochondria
into existence then the implications for understanding the practice
of pranayama are profound, whilst some hyperventilatory
pranayamas exist (bhastrika and kapalabhati) in all the traditional
texts of Hatha Yoga the emphasis is placed on hypoventilation:
yvadvyu sthito dehe tvajjvanamuchyate |maran am tasya
nis hkrntistato vyum nirodhayet ||

So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life.

Death consists in the passing out of the (breathing) air. It is,
therefore, necessary to restrain the breath.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Then let the intelligent student close with his right thumb the
pingala (the right nostril), inspire air through the Ida (the left
nostril), and keep the air confinedsuspend his breathingas
long as he can; and afterwards let him breathe out slowly, and not
forcibly, through the right nostril.
Shiva Samhita
Many of the pranayamas used in hatha yoga share a common
factor they work in some way to slow and reduce standard
unconscious breathing, for example nadi shodanna, alternates the
breathing between each nostril and whilst this may produce
additional subtle effects it acts to reduce airway size so slowing
the rate at which air can be inhaled and exhaled, the gentle
contraction of the base of the throat used in Ujayi also serves to
restrict airway size, breath retention in general will obviously
reduce breathing.
This hypoventilation will induce a mild hypercapnic condition
(increased Carbon dioxide), this increased carbon dioxide will
improve oxygen delivery throughout the body, through the Bohr
effect as well as through carbon dioxides vasodilatory effects,
stabilise nerve cells, decrease inflammation through a number of
mechanisms including stabilising mast cells inhibiting histamine
and serotonin release. Further if Ray Peat is correct potentially
increasing mitochondria and hence increasing the Generative

Energy available to an individual, this increased metabolic energy

is available both physically and mentally, with greater energy
available an individual is capable of a higher level of function. This
increase in mitochondrial activity is capable of increasing
production of various protective steroid hormones including the
foundational hormones that are also neuroactive, pregnenolone,
progesterone and DHEA as all of these are produced within the
mitochondria. High levels of these hormones are associated with
the fluid resiliency of youth, optimising mitochondrial function
through pranayama should keep their production high.
Warning, things are about to get Super-Kooky!!
There is reason to believe that when metabolism is truly optimum,
and the whole organism is in state of deep harmonic coherence, it
is capable of setting up mutually reinforcing positive feedback
loops, for example increased retention of CO2 through pranayama
increases blood flow and mitochondrial oxidative metabolism,
increased mitochondrial metabolism means greater production of
progesterone and pregnenolone which can improve thyroid
function, thyroid increases CO2, increasing mitochondrial
efficiency, blood flow and further stimulates production of
pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA, massively increasing
Generative Energy available that spontaneously heals disease and
increases the overall coherence and energy available for
realisation of ones dharma.
The possibility of such feedback loops suggests that we are
capable of becoming (if we arent already to at least some extent)
over-unity beings, and lends support to stories of yogis living
hundreds or even thousands of years needing little or no food.

Further it is possible that carbon dioxide is the key agent involved

in the opening of the nadis that can be experienced during
pranayama, these are streaming bio-plasmic currents running
through the body, there are often said to be 72,000 of them, with
three emphasized, Ida and Pingala, and most important
Sushumna. Ray Peat talks about CO2 as greasing the energy
pathways in the cell and mitochondria, I suspect given its affinity
for forming carbamino groups it is capable of performing a similar
function throughout the body, and that it is this, that when
CO2 levels are high enough and the yogi has entered a state of
kevala kumbhaka, opens the channels, of course this is
speculation, and is a jump that I am making, I may be mistaken.
If things are so then even the seemingly extreme case of
Chaurangi, who is said to have regenerated his hands and feet
(they were chopped off by a wicked step mother) after 12 years of
pranayama practice, appears within the realms of possibility. This
no doubt sounds crazy to many as it is so far outside the realm of
our typical experience, but many animals are capable of
regenerating limbs, including, axolotls and salamanders, why
should this be so for some and not others? LV Polezhaev (1972) a
biologist who studied regeneration notes theories that
regenerative failure was a result of weakening of morphogenetic
fields, evidence can also be found suggesting significant
bioelectrical current and field effects in influencing regeneration
(Borgens et al. 1979). If CO2 acts as a kosmotrope, increasing
coherent energy flow then it is inevitably also strengthening the
energetic field phenomena that undoubtedly play a key role in life
processes. The possibilities are totally awesome!

Thyroid plays an essential role in stimulating oxidative metabolism

and hence increasing C02, thyroid is capable of increasing
mitochondria, hypothyroidism is associated with decreased
mitochondria and biochemical and structural differences in
mitochondria (Jakovcic et al. 1978). Hypothyroidism results in
physical and mental fatigue, compensatory increases in stress
hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol.
In our present environment we have been exposed to numerous
anti-metabolic agents that inhibit thyroid function, including
estrogens (via pollution of water supplies from birth control pills as
well as industrial xenoestrogens), fluoride, polyunsaturated fats
(both omega 3 and 6, avoid them both), and radioactive pollution.
Thyroid appears to play a key role in differentiation, maturation
and individuation, this may be due in part to the increase in
CO2 levels that increased oxidative metabolism brings about,
evidence for this can be seen in an experiment where tadpoles
treated with T4 and T3 prematurely metamorphose into tiny frogs,
whilst those that have been made hypothyroid simply become
oversized tadpoles (Gudernatsch 1912).

Intestinal cleansing, endotoxin, and metabolic energy


Aging and stress increase some of the inflammatory mediators,

tending to reduce the barrier function of the bowel, letting larger
amounts of bacterial toxins enter the bloodstream, interfering
with energy metabolism, creating inflammatory vicious circles of
increasing leakiness and inflammation.
-Ray Peat
Many of the shatkarmas (bodily purification techniques) of Hatha Yoga
focus on cleansing of the Gastro-intestinal tract, these practices are often
neglected by modern aspirants, who perhaps find them odd, embarrassing
and lacking in the glamour of crazy-awesome asanas. There are however
some very metabolically pragmatic reasons for these practices, chief
amongst them is reducing the metabolically suppressive and inflammatory
actions of bacterial endotoxin.
So just what is bacterial endotoxin?
Bacterial endotoxin is a lipopolysaccharide (a long-chain sugar molecule
with a lipid / fat molecule joined to it), found in the outer membrane of
gram-negative bacteria, including those that reside in our intestinal tract.
Exposure to it triggers an immune response, exposure to large amounts of
it can result in endotoxic shock.
Whilst we have adapted to exposure to a certain amount of endotoxin
produced by intestinal bacteria, overgrowth of bacteria, or constipation /
increased transit time, can lead to excessive exposure resulting in an
inflammatory immune challenge.

The mechanism involved in endotoxins toxicity is according to Ray Peat a

direct biophysical action on cells causing them to take up water, this results
in inflammation and swelling and leaky-gut alongside mitochondrial
inhibition. The leaky-gut resulting from such intestinal endotoxin leads to
endotoxin gaining access to the blood stream and being able to exert its
actions throughout the body, one of the first sites where endotoxin is
capable of interfering with healthy function is the liver, here it acts to
overburden the livers detoxification systems (in this case the
glucuronidatiuon sytem) resulting in increased exposure to other antimetabolic toxins such as estrogen. Endotoxin can act as an excitotoxin
(Wang and White 1999), cause heart dysfunction (Suffredini et al. 1989)
and damage the lungs (Brigham and Meyrick 1986). Multiple studies
demonstrate that endotoxin damages mitochondrial function and
ultrastructure, (Crouser et al. 2002). Endotoxins (and estrogens) ability to
stimulate swelling and hypo-osmolarity of cells inhibits the oxidative
metabolism of mitochondria, resulting in decreased energy production and
increased lactate production (Bundgaard et al. 2003), lactate has a number
of pro-inflammatory anti-metabolic effects further exacerbating an already
bad situation, Lactic acid contributes to excitotoxicity and neuronal loss
(Xiang et al. 2004), the presence of lactic acid makes cells more
susceptible to transformation into cancer cells (Mothersill et al. 1983), Lactic
acid stimulates the release of the inflammatory Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2),
an eicosanoid (hormone like substance) derived from the polyunsaturated
fatty acid arachidinoic acid (Dawes and Rushton 1994), PGE2 further
activates aromatase and the production of estrogen, estrogen induces
PGE2 production establishing a vicious cycle (Bulunn et al. 2000).
The above cascade of proinflammatory factors, endotoxin, estrogen and
lactate push the cell away from individuated differentiated function towards
a defensive survival response to stress, characterised by a swelling of the

cytoskeletal protein matrix of the cell and uptake of water. As mentioned

above this swelling increases intestinal permeability, allowing for the
systemic spread of these anti-metabolic factors, and the maladaptive
processes that ensue when the situation becomes chronic. This swelling,
inflammation and metabolic impairment is of course characteristic of cancer,
endotoxin is a tumour promoter (Yu et al. 2010). Evidence also suggests
that endotoxin increases the risk of diabetes (Pussinen et al. 2011). There
are also some indicators that endotoxin can cause behavioural and
emotional problems (Renault and Aubert 2006). This swelling is an
inflammatory condition, and inflammation is increasingly being recognized
as a causative factor in multiple diseases, it seems that at the level of the
cell there is one key pathology that manifests differently at the level of the
tissues and organs, but fundamentally similar processes underlie these
The shatkarmas such as the various forms of Dhauti, including
Shankaprakshalana (technique of cleansing the entire gastrointestinal tract
from mouth to anus with warm salty water), Agnisar kriya, and Nauli all help
to cleanse and tone the gastrointestinal tract decreasing the metabolic
burden of bacterial endotoxin.
Shankaprakshalana, you drink a whole lot of warm salty water whilst
performing a series of postures to move the water through the GI system,
make sure youre near a toilet, its kind of an orally administered colonic
(sounds lovely doesnt it?). As well as flushing the entire digestive tract, and
so reducing endotoxic burden it may also be therapeutic where the lining of
the intestine is inflamed as if the water has an appropriate amount of salt
added it may help to ameliorate swelling induced by various stresses,
including endotoxin that all act to cause inflammation, leaving cells
oedematous. By exerting an osmotic pull the salt water should remove

excess water from these inflamed, leaky cells, helping to return them to a
more functional state.
Shankaprakshalana should be carried out rarely (no more than twice a
year) as drinking a large amount of relatively hypertonic salt water will
breakdown the stomachs protective mucus lining, typically the practice was
followed by a meal of kitchari (a mix of rice and lentils/ mung beans) cooked
with a liberal amount of ghee, the ghee likely being therapeutic due to its
short and medium chain fatty acid content, around 5% of which is butyric
acid, providing an easily assimilated fuel for the enterocytes, a further 10%
of ghee is made up of other short and medium chain fatty acids, which are
metabolically stimulating and have been shown to improve intestinal
permeability, cell differentiation, and be anti-inflammatory (Bai et al. 2010,
Suzuki et al. 2008, St-Onge and Jones 2002, Di Sabatino et al. 2005).
These multiple actions of the short and medium chain fatty acids suggest
the possibility that these actions are produced through a common pathway,
that is they optimise / facilitate metabolism and in so doing improve the
cellular swelling / inflammation that is concomitant with metabolic
impairment, evidence suggestive of this can be seen in the capacity for
ketones (SCTs and MCTs favour ketone formation) to reduce Reactive
Oxygen Species (ROS), and increase the NAD+/NADH ratio favouring the
oxidised state (Maalouf et al. 2007). These properties are likely the key
factors that make ketones (and coconut oil) therapeutic in Alzheimers and
other neurodegenerative conditions as well as in epilepsy. Restore energy
flow and structure follows, restore structure and energy flows.
Additional techniques that may be easier for some one who is unsupervised
to undertake include the careful use of herbs especially those containing
anthraquinones to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract, these herbs include
yellow dock (Rumex crispus),Cascara sagrada, various Aloe species (in this
case many preparations of aloe gel will be useless as anthraquinones are

present in the periphery of the leaf, and are not included in many
commercial Aloe gel products), Senna, and Turkey rhubarb (Rheum
palmatum). Start with a low dose and work up if needed (high doses can
cause spasmic pain), someone with a regular yoga practice should not
need much if any to have an effect. Further anthraquinones appear as
catalogued by Ray Peat in the article Cascara, energy, cancer and the
FDAs laxative abuse, to be able to act in way that directly opposes the
biophysical effects of endotoxin.

Emodin (an anthraquinone) inhibits the formation of nitric oxide, increases

mitochondrial respiration, inhibits angiogenesis and invasiveness, inhibits
fatty acid synthase (Zhang, et al., 2002), inhibits HER-2 neu and tyrosine
phosphorylases (Zhang, et al., 1995, 1999), and promotes cellular
differentiation in cancer cells (Zhang, et al., 1995). The anthraquinones, like
other antiinflammatory substances, reduce leakage from blood vessels, but
they also reduce the absorption of water from the intestine. Reduced water
absorption can be seen in a slight shrinkage of cells in certain
circumsstances, and is probably related to their promotion of cellular
These herbs should only be used on a short term basis, long term use may
result in a discolouration of the intestinal epithelium (melanosis coli)
produced as a result of increased apoptosis, and the deposit of lipofuscin in
macrophage lysosomes, this is likely no real issue as the discolouration
resolves with time and may represent a clean up of disordered cells, further
if long term use of anthraquinone laxatives is needed then you should really
start asking why and looking for other means to resolve the condition.
The pro-differentiated structure / function biophysical effect of
anthraquinones is obviously not unique to them, and is shared by other

substances, chiefly CO2 so pranayama, should with time also result in

normalisation / optimisation of intestinal function, but in the interests of
expediency other techniques may be helpful. Nauli should be especially
beneficial as during the churning of the rectus abdominus, which acts to
massage the abdominal organs, the breath is held so increasing CO2.
By reducing the endotoxic burden the traditional yogic cleanses, and other
herbal and naturopathic strategies optimise metabolism, when the
metabolism is functioning well energy production is high and the organism
is able to function at increasingly higher states of health and
consciousness, as the metabolic flow of energy is when unimpeded able to
fully nurture, guide and teach the individual, this flow of energy is intelligent
and has been given various names in different cultures including the vis
medicatrix naturae (the healing power of nature).
Oh and dont try shankaprakshalana on your own if youre inexperienced,
find a teacher / guru / guide to help you out, for safe, gentle daily intestinal
hygiene a raw carrot salad should be helpful as the fibre contains
antibacterial agents, the fibre will also help eliminate estrogens preventing
their reabsorption, a little coconut oil with it would also be helpful, as the
MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) have been shown to significantly
reduce lipopolysaccharide toxicity (Kono et al. 2003) as well as having
multiple other benefits mentioned above.