Breathing is something that we all do without thinking about it.
In fact, your breathing pattern has a direct impact on your emotions and feelings. If left unchecked, daily external stressors can have a huge impact on how we feel, think and react. According to emerging studies, one of the biggest reasons for illness and disease is chronic over-breathing and erratic breathing patterns.
But what if you could consciously take control of your breath and improve your health, mood, energy, and spiritual practice?
In this article, you will find a list of some of the most informative and useful books on breathing and breathwork training. We’ll also answer some common questions that people ask when getting started with breathwork and provide instructions on how to do our favorite breathing technique!
So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced practitioner, read on to learn more about the art and science of breathwork.
Is breathwork scientifically proven?
“Breathwork” is a term that refers to a number of techniques designed to help people consciously control their breath.
Numerous studies have shown that controlled, slow breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and even boost immune function.
This Harvard Business Review article on why Breathwork is so effective at reducing stress points to a number of studies that demonstrate how science-based breathwork practices can lead to reduced stress and good health.
However, more research is needed to determine the full extent of breathwork’s benefits and how it compares to other forms of treatment. We’re getting there!
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art is a New York Times bestseller by author and journalist James Nestor. This book explores the history, science, and personal effects of intentional breathing, focusing on how mouth and nose breathing differ.
It provides in-depth information about the science of breathing, personal anecdotes, and experiments with breathing.
Amazon Book Review
Valuable Lessons about breathing
“Great book on breathing. I’ve read a bunch on this topic and found that this one consolidates tons of information all those other sources into one place. While the biggest take away is to shut your mouth and breathe through your nose, there are many other techniques highlighted. No matter what you do for a living, this book will help you.”Pros: Cons:
Light on Pranayama: The Definitive Guide to the Art of Breathing by B.K.S Iyengar
This bestselling book is a practical and thorough guide for all those wishing to learn the art of pranayama.
This book offers a comprehensive overview of the respiratory system from both modern anatomical and ancient yogic perspectives. It covers the 14 main types of pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), with 82 progressive stages ranging from beginner to advanced levels. If you want to improve your Yoga practice, then this is the book for you!
Amazon Book Review
“No regrets about this purchase. It has shed light on the art and science of pranayama. B.K.S. Iyengar is a high level guru, indeed. I have started a home pranayama practice based on some of the techniques in this book. It’s exactly what I needed to take my yoga training to the next level.”Pros: Cons:
Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork by Dan Brulé
In Just Breathe, you will learn how to use your breath to reduce stress, increase productivity, balance your health, and find the path to spiritual awakening. This book is considered by Tony Robbins as the “definitive breathwork handbook.”
In this revolutionary guide, world-renowned pioneer of breathwork Dan Brulé explains the Breath Mastery approach that has aided clients all around the world in managing anxiety, enhancing their health, and tapping infinite stores of energy.
The truth is that when you control your breathing, you can manage your state of well-being-something elite athletes, spiritual yogis, navy seals, first responders, and champion martial artists have always known.
So if you’re planning on jump-starting personal growth, this book might just help you do it!
Amazon Book Review
“Just as one repeats a breath pattern at least once for rhythmic satisfaction, I’m now onto a repeat reading of this wonderful book. I’ve already changed my practices for the powerful better. Awareness has come that when I’m at all challenged or in some worry, I stop breathing. So, now when this awareness happens I breathe right into it. As if my first breath! Thank you, Dan Brule.” – Lansing DayPros: Cons:
The Power of Breath: The Art of Breathing Well for Harmony, Happiness, and Health by Swami Saradananda
In The Power of Breath, renowned yoga teacher Swami Saradananda provides readers with easy yet impactful guidance on the art of breathing.
The five types of breath she explores are vitalizing (prana), nourishing (samana), expansive (vyana), cleansing (apana) and expressive (udana). Breathwork exercises to improve breathing for each type are included.
She also offers mini-programs for targeting specific common ailments and issues such as asthma, skin disorders, depression, sleep disorders, lethargy, and phobias—plus ways to harness your breath to enhance vocal, dramatic, or sports performance!
Amazon Book Review
“The amount of knowledge squeezed into this short book is worth the price of admission. Breaks down every aspect of the importance of breathing from A-Z. Even gives recommendations for certain adverse health conditions. If you are into occult learning or just overall health & wellness this is a fantastic book to add to your library. The author seems to definitely know her stuff.” – marlon laron mckelvey-beyPros: Cons:
The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential
Wim Hof, now more popularly known as “The Iceman,” has gone viral for his record-breaking ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He’s been filmed spending hours in ice water and running marathons through deserts and icy terrain-all without shoes!
His breathwork method is a combination of breathing exercises, cold therapy, and mindset. In “The Wim Hof Method,” he outlines how to breathe and deal with the cold while providing insights into the latest scientific research on the profound effects of breathing on the mind and body.
Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy
Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof present their ground-breaking new type of self-exploration and psychotherapy in this long-awaited book: Holotropic Breathwork.
Holotropic refers to the process of moving toward oneness from the Greek word holos (whole) and trepein (moving in the direction of).
The breathwork incorporates the incredible healing and transformative capabilities of non-ordinary states of consciousness. These states evoke a kaleidoscope of memories, from birth through early infancy, and prenatal experiences such as delivery and labor.
The Grofs’ work with holotropic states of consciousness has profoundly impacted the fields of psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy.
Amazon Book Review
“This book is an important contribution to our understanding of ourselves, our difficulties and a path to exploration and healing. I have experienced a Holotropic Breathing session, and can only say that it draws me to explore this modality further. Talk therapy has its place, clearly, but for me this modality provides a way to circumvent the “rational” mind’s tendency to censor and prevent the engagement with unconscious material that may be stifling any move towards health and wholeness. I found it interesting and hopeful.” John W TerkuilePros: Cons:
Feel to Heal: Releasing Trauma Through Body Awareness and Breathwork Practice by Giten Tonkov
In this revolutionary approach to living well, a pioneering trauma-release therapist puts relief in reach—with a multi-modal practice that can be done at home.
The message of this book is one of hope – The body is capable of incredible healing, and activating those natural processes can liberate anyone from the negative effects of trauma like PTSD, chronic tension, pain, irritability, or difficulty in relationships. You don’t have to feel shackled by your past any longer!
In this volume, practitioner and worldwide trainer Giten Tonkov expands on successful body-based, trauma-release therapies to teach average people how to break the trauma cycle, improve relationships, and achieve healthier, more fulfilling day-to-day lives.
Amazon Book Review
“I was intrigued by this deep insight into the unique somatic approach that Giten Tonkov has created. I love that it is non woo woo and that the science behind it all is sound and well explained. I had some true eye opening moments reading this book. I like the practical examples and how entertaining it is written despite the serious subject matter. For sure I will integrate a lot of this into my own practice. Highly recommended for everyone interested in their own healing journey and that of others.”Pros: Cons:
The Oxygen Advantage: Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques to Help You Become Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter by Patrick McKeown
In The Oxygen Advantage, the man who has trained over 5,000 people–including Olympic and professional athletes–in reduced breathing exercises now shares his scientifically validated techniques to help you breathe more efficiently.
Patrick McKeown teaches you the fundamental relationship between oxygen and the body, then gets you started with a Body Oxygen Level Test (BOLT) to determine how efficiently your body uses oxygen.
He then shows you how to increase your BOLT score by using light breathing exercises and learning how to simulate high altitude training, a technique used by Navy SEALs and professional athletes to help increase endurance, weight loss, and vital red blood cells to dramatically improve cardio-fitness.
Amazon Book Review
“Breathing has such a profound impact on of our lives, and yet most people pay absolutely no attention to it! Patrick McKeown has written an amazing book on the subject, and I highly recommend it. It is truly transformative. By learning to relax and quiet your breath, as it is taught in yoga, you will have higher energy levels, better health, improved concentration and a host of other benefits!” Marc-Antoine T-HétuPros: Cons:
Shamanic Breathwork: Journeying beyond the Limits of the Self
Incorporating psychospiritual tools with her Shamanic Breathwork practice, Linda Star Wolf shows how to spiritually journey in the same way shamans entrain to the rhythms of drums or rattles using the breath, either alone or together with music.
Much like traveling to sacred places or ingesting entheogens, this practice can be used to enter altered states of consciousness, connect to cosmic consciousness, increase paranormal abilities, and awaken the shaman within.
Utilizing the healing power of breath along with chakra-attuned music, Linda Star Wolf explores the Five Cycles of Change–the Alchemical Map of Shamanic Consciousness–and how these cycles affect you as you move through major shifts in your life. If you’re fascinated by the ancient healing arts, then you might want to check this book out!
Amazon Book Review
“This book is very informative when wanting to know what to expect during a Shamanic Breathwork session. It covers everything pretty extensively and includes people’s actual stories. The story piece helps put perspective on what can be experienced and how differently it affects different people.”Pros: Cons:
Conscious Breathing: Discover The Power of Your Breath by Anders Olson
What if one simple habit could radically improve your life?
What if one small change could completely reshape your health, fitness, weight, sleep, energy — and even your looks and sex life? Anders Olsson is the founder of Conscious Breathing.
He has educated over one thousand breathing instructors and helped tens of thousands of people create massive change in their lives through the power of their breath. In this book he draws on his vast experience, as well as countless hours studying all aspects of the human breath, as he reveals how to:
- Normalize your blood pressure, circulation and heart rate
- Get restful sleep and energize your working hours
- Boost your body’s ability to burn fat
- And much more
Conscious Breathing – Discover The Power of Your Breath is the definitive step-by-step guide to reshaping your breathing habits and your life.
Amazon Book Review
“I’ve read several books on breathing. This one is straightforward and simple to read and to follow. I also bought the 28 day training program. So far I’m above the charts and progressing very well. I’ve noticed no more sleep apnea and I don’t get chapped lips anymore.” C.PeronaPros: Cons:
Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health
Contemporary science confirms what generations of healers have observed through centuries of practice: Breath awareness can turn on the body’s natural abilities to prevent and cure illness.
The mental and physical stresses of modern life, such as anxiety, frustration, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, high blood pressure, digestive woes, and immune dysfunction can all be addressed through conscious control of your breath. In addition, it can increase energy, accelerate healing, improve cognitive skills, and enhance mental balance.
Dr. Vranich shows readers how to turn back the tide of stress and illness, and improve the overall quality of their life through a daily breathing workout.
A Practical Guide to Breathwork: A Remedy for the Modern Human Condition by Jesse Coomer
You have been breathing your whole life; now learn how to breathe better to positively influence your mental and physical well-being.
This book is exactly what it says it is, a practical guide. Nothing esoteric. Nothing “woo woo.”
What you will find in this book can be applied today in a real way to improve your life. Learn how to use your breath to communicate to your physiology and psychology in predictable and replicable ways using nothing more than focused conscious breathing.
Amazon Book Review
“Wow. So incredibly helpful in its practicality and simplicity. So many other books talk around techniques with out being technical. Not the case here. The book does a great job of the high level, forest from the trees view while also giving you well explained tools that equip the reader to create their own practice. Thanks so much Jesse!” Samantha BartonPros: Cons:
Are meditation and breathwork the same thing?
While both meditation and breathwork involve focusing on the breath, there are some key differences between the two practices.
In meditation, the goal is to focus on the breath and clear the mind of all thoughts. This can be difficult for beginners, as thoughts often wander and fluctuate.
Breathwork, on the other hand, involves using the breath to consciously affect the body and emotions. This can be done by breathing in certain ways to release negative emotions or by using the breath to energize or relax the body.
Practitioners often say that a short breathwork practice can help a person get into a deep, relaxed state of meditation. I personally recommend this approach!
Can you teach yourself breathwork?
Yes, a person can teach themselves breathwork.
There are many books on breathing techniques that can help you learn how to control your breath and use it to achieve specific goals, such as improving your health, regulating your nervous system, or improving your energy levels.
However, it’s important to note that breathwork is not just about learning different techniques.
It’s also about developing a personal relationship with your breath and understanding the role that breath plays in your life. Furthermore, certain advanced breathwork practices require applying subtle and nuanced techniques that are hard to learn from books and easier to absorb through observation and mentorship.
So while books can certainly help you get started, don’t expect to become an expert overnight. Oftentimes, it takes practice, patience, and feedback to develop the skills necessary to develop a breathwork practice for health, vitality and longevity.
What is the best breathwork technique?
In my opinion, there’s no single best breathing technique.
Depending on the situation and the outcome I’m hoping to achieve, I use a breathwork technique from my toolbox.
A technique that I use very often, especially when I’m winding down for the day and preparing for sleep is the 4:8 breathing technique.
To perform the 4:8 breathing technique, inhale slowly for four seconds and then exhale slowly for eight seconds. This breathwork technique can be repeated as often as desired to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and induce a deep state of relaxation all over your body.
All in all, books on breathing and breathwork training can provide a wealth of information for those looking to improve their understanding of the topic.
The books covered in this article provide great instructions on different breathing techniques, as well as tips for how to incorporate breathwork into your everyday life.
These authors have dedicated their lives to the practice of breathwork, so you’ll often find inspiring and meaningful anecdotes that you can apply to your own life .
If you’re interested in learning more about breathing and how it can benefit your health, these books are a great place to start.
Tell us in the comments below – what was your favorite book. Is there a book that you’d like us to add to this list?