The Rav has mentioned that there are gentile methods of breathing exercises. What exactly is the Rav referring to? Which parts of the non-Jewish breathing exercises are inappropriate for a Jew to use?
The Torah’s approach to the power of using breathing is not so that we should expel negative energy contained in the body and bring in positive energy. A Torah-approved method that is being somewhat mirrored in the gentile practices of breathing is that a person can bring positive energy into his system; However, this is not being accomplished through the gentile methods.
A Torah-approved method would be to imagine a thought about something holy and to imagine that it is entering him, or that it is his enveloping his body, or something similar to this. The gentile approach of breathing exercises, however, involves imagining a “light” that enters the body which purges it from all evil or negativity found in the body. This approach is heretical to our Torah.
The purpose of the Torah’s approach towards breathing is that breathing enables us to reach HaKadosh Baruch Hu found in the depths of the soul. Unlike the gentile methods, which are entirely self-focused, the Torah way of breathing exercises is to come to live with Hashem in our life, through the breathing exercises. However, practically speaking, that is only reached at a much higher stage of the breathing [as explained in the class entitled Rosh Chodesh Avodah – 008 MarChesvan: Breathing. But we must be able to bear it in mind even as we begin to work with our breathing. We must know that the goal of deepening our breathing is because it enables us to live with Hashem in our life.
We may penetrate deeper and deeper into ourselves by choosing to imagine a holy thought that is entering us, and we can also think that it is purifying us; these two aspects are acceptable according to the Torah. But the part where they imagine that a “light” is entering the body and cleansing out all of the negativity – this is against the Torah, and it is basically a form of idol worship.