The shortest answer is “YES, Why Not?”
Before giving any explanation or examples, first I would like you to understand why people say a No.
It is natural for human beings to deny anything that they themselves can not do, or do not see anyone around doing in general.
As a simple example, any western cultured person may refuse to believe that ‘Sukhasana’ (literally meaning comfortable seating) is really a comfortable posture. But in India, you will find it the most common posture of seating when we have our meals.
Even the smallest kids can seat that way and eat.
It is unbelievable that a human can fold his body in ways that it seems impossible. But often those practicing Yoga are able to do it.
In short, there are many things that may seem impossible for most of the people but are possible for fewer one who practices it continuously.
What is Yog-Asana or Hath-Yoga?
Yog-Asana is a part of the complete 8 Steps of “Yog”
Yog is NOT Asana – The meaning of Yog is conjunction with the higher self.
Asana is one of 8 steps of Yog.
The 8 steps starts from controlling inner daemons and completes with Self-realization.
- Yama – Ethical standards
- Niyama – Self Descipline
- Asana – Physical postures
- Pranayama – Breathing control
- Pratyahara – Withdrawal of sensory information
- Dharana – Concentration
- Dhyana – Focusing on self
- Samadhi – Realizing the Self
If you look at the process, the 8 steps takes the practitioner from controlling their mind, thoughts, body, respiration, senses which makes it possible to stop any physical senses related to body and mind, resulting a non-responsive state similar to death.
Then, the practitioner focuses on the sense of being-ness within(self). This is called as Samadhi.
The ultimate purpose of meditation is to experience the oneness of the universe and practice to stay in it even when you are awaken.
The yogis in Himalaya – practice the hard way of Yog-Sutras – directly or indirectly.
Tibetan Yogis follow the practices laid by Gautam Buddha, an Indian Monk, who learnt it from ancient tradition of Yog-Sutra.
Now, the question is , can human life be extended like this, how is it possible?
The answer lies in cell-level biology. It is possible to reduce the cell-level damage to slow down the aging process.
Withdrawal of senses is a natural process, done by most animals who go into hibernation.
These processes are carefully studied and practiced for increasing the life-expectancy of the body to keep the body fit.
Here is a book by British Reporter – Paul Brunton
Remember: He was a professional reporter and atheist who was curious about the same question.
He visited India in twentieth century and met thousands of people from street magicians to Himalayan Yogis to understand the Indian Yog tradition.
We must be thankful to him for his detailed documentation, due to which we have the photographs and videos available today of the last century spiritual gems like Ramana Maharshi, Paramhans Yogananda, Maa Anandmayi etc.
Below example will help you to create interest in this topic and get more insights.
Paul met a young Yogi called Brama, who demonstrated him how he can Stop Breathing completely.
Paul writes “if I had not experienced this myself, I would have never believed that this is possible.”.
Further, when he asked Brama about it, Brama told that his master can even do more. He can make a cut on his hand, and when the blood flows, he can stop it at will, explaining that this is a part of their practice of body control.
It is believed that, Jesus Chirst visited Tibet and learnt these practices during his stay from the age of 14 to 30 before returning his land. This helped him to stop the bodily functions completely and resurrect after he was hung. (you may search more articles for this on Google.)
You can also refer the Book “Autobiography of a Yogi” By Paramhansa Yogananda
This book will take you to the deepest experiences with similar such yogis who practices Kriyayoga for hundreds of years.
Below are some of the Historical Examples
Mahavataar Babaji – mentioned as the founder of Kriyayoga and guru of several known yogis. Several living yoga gurus mentioned meeting him and explaining that he looks young as 30, while in real he has been living since over 1000 years.
Trailanga (Telang) Swami – Official british records state he lived 280 years.
Devraha Baba -Official records 250 years
People of Okinawa (japan) – Average life is 100 Years+
In a nutshell,if people without training of increasing life with Yoga, can live more than hundred years in several countries, then those who specialize the art and science of body, mind, respiration control can easily stretch it to hundreds of year.