Breathing. It’s almost as automatic as our heart beat. In fact, it’s so integral to our bodies that we don’t even notice our breathing most of the time. We notice during illness and exercise, of course. But other than that, we just let our bodies do their thing. Inhale—bring in oxygen; exhale—release carbon dioxide. If there is anything that could unite us, it’s the fact that we all have to breathe. These are the best books on breathwork and an ancient practice.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork turns this automatic function of the human body into a conscious and mindful experience. People who practice breathwork claim that it:
- reduces anxiety
- heals emotional trauma
- increases self-worth
- increases energy
- releases negative thoughts
- boosts immunity
- improved focus
- boosts creativity
With several types of practices, you’ll easily find one that fits your life. From the intensely spiritual to more secular and science based. Form a 5-minute practice to a 2-hour practice. Each type offers the the same thing; healing from past emotional and physical trauma and moving past subconscious blockages that keep you from living your best life.
The best books on breathwork guide you into the practice and help you learn more about it.
Best Books on Breathwork
Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy by Stanislav Grof and Christiana Grof
The term “Holotropic” means “moving toward wholeness.” The Grofs explain that altered breathing, trance music, and a safe space, can help the practitioner relive their childhood, infancy, and prenatal lives in order to consciously move toward wholeness in their current lives.
Shamanic Breathwork: Journeying Beyond the Limits of the Self by Linda Star Wolf
This practice believes that while we breathe in air, we also breathe in energy. They believe that everyone has their own inner healer, so they use a practice of breathing to unlock unconscious blockages and trauma to release and transform. This book comes with a practice explaining the five cycles of change and how to get through them, as well as personal testimonies from practitioners.
The Power of Breathwork: Simple Practices to Promote Well being by Jennifer Patterson
Patterson utilizes breathwork practices from around the world to make the home practice accessible. She outlines 27 different simple exercises that people can do at home in order to access more energy and creativity, heal from past trauma, and reduce depression. She explains what happens in your physical, energetic, and spiritual bodies when we breathe consciously. This is a great intro into breathwork.
Rebirthing and Breathwork: A Powerful Technique for Personal Transformation by Catherine Dowling
Dowling introduces us to a form of breathwork called “Rebirthing.” With more than 20 years of clinical practice, Dowling gives readers insight on how breathing can help you connect to your spiritual and emotional self. She offers gentle and easy practices that allow the reader to explore their inner lives and ultimately find wholistic balance.
Breathe, You are Alive: The Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing by Thich Naht Hanh
Hanh outlines the breathing practice that the Buddha taught. This practice of conscious breathing is meant to uncover the true nature of all things so that the practitioner can arrive at spiritual liberation. The 16 practices outlined in this book is meant to guide the practitioner through their physical, mental, and spiritual selves.
Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing by B.K.S. Iyengar
This book explores breathing within yoga philosophy. Pranayama is often utilized within yoga, sequencing breathing with movement, but it is also its own practice. Iyengar explains why this is and why it is such an important and vital part of your yoga practice.
Yoga instructor, Donna Farhi, makes breathwork simple and accessible. She guides readers through several techniques that will immediately effect positive change. So, whether you’re dealing with asthma or just everyday stress, she lists safe and positive ways to breathe.
Tonkov’s integrates “deep connected breathing” with movement, emotional expression, and meditation to offer holistic self healing. His techniques activates the body’s natural healing processes and offers relief from past traumas. Tonkov has taught thousands of people all over the world to harness their healing.
Just Breathe investigates the secret to elite athletes, martial artists, Navy SEALS, and advanced yogis to offer an at home practice of breathing that will allow you to change your life for the better. Dan Brulé gives readers several simple and practical exercises to enhance self worth and release personal negativity for everyday success.
This is one of the best books on breathwork and a definitive guide to breathwork practices. Neese offers instructions on what breathwork is and gives historical tradition information about each exercise she recommends. She gives research supported benefits of breathwork and explains how the breath is connected to our emotions and resilience. This is a perfect book for the beginning practitioner.
The Science of Breathing by Swami Vivekananda
This collection of writings on meditative breathing is simple and accessible to the modern reader. Written by the Hindu monk who brought yoga to the west, this short book is vital in our understanding of breathwork.