The Yoga of Breath Book Summary - The Yoga of Breath Book explained in key points
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The Yoga of Breath summary

Richard Rosen

A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama

4.4 (125 ratings)
22 mins
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    The Yoga of Breath
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    There is a right way and a wrong way to breathe. 

    What advice would you give to someone who needs to calm down? You might tell him to take a deep breath. Yoga practitioners have known about the relationship between breathing and consciousness for thousands of years. In fact, working with your breath is an essential part of yoga tradition. This practice is known as pranayama, derived from the sanskrit words Prana, meaning “breath,” and Ayama, meaning “control.”

    Pranayama is thought to have originated with Brahman priests – ancient holy men who worshipped by chanting hymns known as the Vedas. These priests realized that if they controlled their breathing during their chanting, they could recite the Vedas with more force. Even more crucially, breathing differently let them alter their states of mind. 

    But the benefits of practicing pranayama go far beyond ancient worship. We live in a hectic world where many of us spend hours hunched over a desk. Pranayama can provide a blissful antidote to stress and ill health. 

    The key message here is: There is a right way and a wrong way to breathe. 

    Incorrect breathing often stems from poor posture, weak respiratory muscles, or simply chronic stress. 

    So what does bad breathing look like?

    Inefficient breathers take quick, shallow breaths, and they primarily use their mouths to breathe. We’ve all had moments of panic and hyperventilation, but breathing inefficiently on a regular basis can cause big problems for your body. Fast, shallow breaths lower the amount of carbon dioxide in your circulatory system. This slows down the circulation of oxygen in your brain and body. The result? Poor oxygenation causes a racing or irregular heartbeat and chronic anxiety. It can even make you confused and forgetful.

    On the other hand, breathing in the right way leaves you feeling instantly revitalized. 

    Efficient breathers take slow, streamlined breaths. Unlike bad breathers, who breathe from their upper chest, efficient breathers breathe from their entire diaphragm and torso. They also breathe through the nose, rather than the mouth. Nose breathing slows your breath down, and it allows your lungs to extract plenty of oxygen with each inhalation. This keeps your body at a healthy oxygen-to-carbon-dioxide ratio, and it leaves you with a clear head and a calmer state of mind. 

    In the next blink, you’ll prepare to start your pranayama journey to healthier breathing. 

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    What is The Yoga of Breath about?

    The Yoga of Breath (2002) outlines the health benefits of breathing efficiently, and explores why many of us are not breathing in the best way. These blinks also describe simple yoga exercises that will help you control your breath and usher in a calmer state of mind. 

    Best quote from The Yoga of Breath

    Let a man perform ujjayi to destroy decay and death. 

    —Richard Rosen
    example alt text

    Who should read The Yoga of Breath?

    • Anxiety sufferers looking for self-help
    • Yoga fans seeking a fresh perspective
    • Busy professionals hoping to de-stress

    About the Author

    Richard Rosen is an American author and instructor in modern yoga. Rosen cofounded the Nest Yoga Studio in Oakland and is also the president of the Yoga Dana Foundation.

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