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Free Your Breath, Free Your Life: How Conscious Breathing Can Relieve Stress, Increase Vitality, and Help You Live More Fully Paperback – May 18, 2004

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Free Your Breath, Free Your Life: How Conscious Breathing Can Relieve Stress, Increase Vitality, and Help You Live More Fully + The Tao of Natural Breathing: For Health, Well-Being, and Inner Growth + Natural Breathing
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (May 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590301331
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590301333
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is by far the most compelling and complete book on breathing I've ever read. It is 'must' reading for everyone who is interested in optimal health."—Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

"Lewis teaches us how to assess our breathing and provides practical tools to help us learn to breathe better and create a healthier balance in our everyday lives. He makes clear that how we breathe reflects who we are and the manner in which we express ourselves—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This book is a wonderful resource for anyone who wishes to improve his or her health and vitality through the breath."—Len Saputo, M.D., coeditor of Boosting Immunity

"Dennis Lewis has a deep understanding of the central importance of breathing, in both its physical and spiritual dimensions—as the breath of life and the breath of the spirit. This book is a practical, inspiring guide to opening yourself to the larger energies of life through the medium of the breath. Highly recommended!"—John Welwood, author of Toward a Psychology of Awakening

"A delightful and innovative path to the most profound truth, shared by the world's greatest healing traditions: the way through any trauma, stress, illness, or injury is to first put attention on the breath. The reader will not only understand through Dennis's inspired writing, but get to experience through numerous excellent, practical exercises how conscious and authentic breathing is the gateway to enhanced health and vitality."—Meg Jordan, Ph.D., author of The Fitness Instinct and founder and editor of American Fitness

"It is extremely difficult to write well and truly about the healing role of breathing both in our everyday life and on the way to great self-knowledge. Dennis Lewis succeeds through a rare combination of clear-headed, practical thought and spiritual sensitivity."—Jacob Needleman, author of The American Soul

"Dennis Lewis is a colleague, teacher, author, poet, and dedicated student of the breath and breathing. Free Your Breath, Free Your Life is not just a good book—it is a great book. It is required reading for all my students attending the Optimal Breathing School. It should be required reading for everyone."—Michael Grant White, Executive Director,

"This is a truly inspiring and informative book. It is a master breath-worker's book for those who wish to attain breath, and thus self-mastery."—Dr. Joy Manne, author of Soul Therapy, editor of The Healing Breath: A Journal of Breathwork Practice, Psychology, and Spirituality

From the Publisher

The way we breathe shapes every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, "Few of us in today's stress-filled world breathe in a free, natural, and harmonious way," says Lewis. "Our mostly fast, constricted breathing undermines our physical, emotional, and spiritual health," and "reduces our capacity to sense, feel, think, and act in clear, sensitive, and effective ways."

To help remedy this situation, Lewis shows how breathing exercises really work. He does so by exploring the seven basic self-directed approaches to working with your breath: conscious breathing, controlled breathing, focused breathing, movement-supported breathing, position-supported breathing, touch-supported breathing, and sound-supported breathing. Within each of these approaches he offers a wealth of breathing practices and insights to help you open up the constrictions in your breathing, breathe with your whole body, and live with more presence and vitality in your everyday life. His emphasis throughout is on helping you to learn how to exhale more fully, to let go of everything that impedes the movements of your breath.

According to Lewis, we in the Western world don’t pay much attention to the way we breathe, but the world's great spiritual traditions all have practices of breath awareness. Lewis maintains that "the breath of life" is what truly connects the different dimensions of ourselves--body, mind, and spirit--and that through conscious breathing we can help transform not just our health but also the very way we live. Lewis explores in depth both the physical and spiritual aspects of how we breathe, and discusses the many ways that our self-image (including the clothes we wear, the way we exercise, and our sense of self-importance) shapes our breathing and our lives.

Many books on breathing have appeared in recent years, but Free Your Breath, Free Your Life is one of the rare few that does not take a one-size-fits-all approach. Lewis explores the basic principles of healthy, whole-body breathing in clear, simple language, with numerous illustrations, and offers a variety of safe exercises and practices for experiencing these principles firsthand. And just as important, Lewis shows how you can apply these principles in relation to your own specific physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, so that you can live a freer, fuller, more conscious life.

More About the Author

Dennis Lewis (1940-), a long-time-student of Taoism, Advaita, and the Gurdjieff Work, teaches the transformative power of presence through Authentic Breathing(R), qigong, meditation, mindfulness, and self-inquiry. He leads workshops throughout the United States, at venues such as Esalen Institute, The New York Open Center, The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and various qigong conferences.

Lewis co-edited two books (now out of print) with Jacob Needleman in the 1970s: "Sacred Tradition & Present Need" and "On the Way to Self Knowledge." His book "The Tao of Natural Breathing: For Health, Well-Being and Inner Growth" was first published in September, 1996, and was republished by Rodmell Press in May 2006. His two-cassette audio program entitled "Breathing as a Metaphor for Living" was released by Sounds True in September 1998, and then re-released on CD in April 2005 as "Natural Breathing." His book "Free Your Breath, Free Your Life: How Conscious Breathing Can Relieve Stress, Increase Vitality, and Help You Live More Fully" was published by Shambhala Publications in May 2004. His most recent book "Breathe Into Being: Awakening to Who You Really Are," was published by Quest Books in May 2009.

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He is a member of the National Qigong Association and is listed in Who's Who in America.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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It's well organized and easy to absorb.
B. Boop
I like this book, it has a lot of techniques and it interfaces well with the method of meditation on the breath.
Richard H. Pratt
If you want to improve your quality of life, begin with the breath and begin with Dennis Lewis.
Jaime Vendera

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've worked with computers for many years and have faced (and continue to face) a great deal of stress in my life. I've tried a variety of breathing exercises to help deal with this stress, but most of them didn't really help--at least not for very long.
I picked up a copy of this new book a couple of weeks ago at the
San Francisco New Living Expo, where the author gave a talk, and it has already helped immensely. The book does not take a "one size fits all" approach to breathing exercises, but rather explains the seven fundamental ways that we can work with our breath, including what he calls conscious breathing, touch-supported breathing, movement-supported breathing, and sound-supported breathing. His exploration of these various approaches, along with safe exercises illustrating each one, has given me many new insights into what I suppose could be called "the anatomy of breathing exercises." It has helped understand better what various types of breathing exercises can and cannot do, and which ones are most helpful for me personally.
In addition to offering a variety of simple practices, along with helpful illustrations, the book provides an entire section to help open up our "breathing spaces," a section on the relationship of breathing to our self-image and to the spiritual dimensions of breathing, and another section with some very helpful breathing meditations for going deeper into ourselves. The two meditations that I have found very helpful so far (I have not tried them all yet) are "Awakening the Breath of the Heart" and "Expanding Time."
I recommend this book very highly to anyone who has to deal with high levels of stress in their lives, which is probably most people today. It has already helped me a lot.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
I came across this book when looking for something to help me understand and deal with a problem of overbreathing, which was leading to a variety of health problems. As a lapsed meditator, I'm familiar with watching the breath, but over the years had developed a habit of trying to breath too much, and, in return, not breathing well.
This book gave me first of all a chance to look at my breathing and see how it should be. The early sections of the book, that discuss how you breathe, and above all how you should let yourself breathe, recentered me in this area. Then the exercises let me relax and calm my breathing, until it quickly got back to a more normal ryhthm and depth. While there's a long way to go, the book's many exercises and insights provide an ideal program for rediscovering the breath and letting it do its work correctly.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By B. Boop on September 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I found this book helpful for stress relief, more conscious breathing and better sleep. It's well organized and easy to absorb. Aside from the practical applications it lays out, the book also offers good insights on why we don't breathe properly and the negative effect poor breathing can have on the body and on overall health. I highly recommend it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jaime Vendera VINE VOICE on February 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Author Dennis Lewis has created a masterpiece with "Free Your Breath, Free Your Life". In the society in which we function, everyone seems to forget about the mind, body and spirit, which truly begin with the breath. We could all live a higher quality of life, be healthier and happier if only we'd find a way to relieve the main cause of our negativity. That cause is stress. The best alternative in my mind is to learn how to breathe again, breathing free like when we were babies. Breathing freely allows us to release mental and physical stress. But the key is to find a way to reconnect to that type of breathing.

Luckily for us, Dennis has created a simple roadmap that leads us back to free breathing. What separates this book from the tons of others I've read on breathing is that it doesn't take the same approach for each individual. It presents seven different methods of breathing specifically tailored to the individuals needs and presented in highly detailed and descriptive terms so that there is no confusion to exactly how to apply this process. And the great part is they are simple to perform so they won't feel like you `have' to do them. Once you've mastered these exercises, this method of breathing will become second nature...just like breathing;)

Through these methods, you can easily reconnect to effortless breathing in order to heal the mind and body. Dennis allows us to free our breath so as to infuse our bodies with oxygen to improve overall health and allow us to release stagnant air from the lungs to relieve physical and mental stress (as well as release old emotions I believe) while helping us to open up breathing spaces in our body we were never aware of using a multitude of methods including postures, sounds and physical touch.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Al Link and Pala Copeland on April 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Lewis demonstrates how to find breathing practices most suitable to you rather than assuming there is one best way to breathe for everyone. Choose from seven different self-directed ways of working with breath. Want to reduce the stress load in your life? Breathing properly is one of the best places to start.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By John P. Morgan VINE VOICE on October 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Our breath is the only thing that is with us from beginning to end...the breath is who and what we are...the breath is interconnected with Spirit and every time we breathe in and every time we breathe out, we are breathing in and out the One Creative Power that creates all of life out of Itself...

The breath does not judge. The breath does not condemn. It is the breath's job to sustain us at all times. I dare you to sit and breathe deeply for one hour. I betcha can't do it. If all of us decided to just spend one hour breathing deeply in and breathing deeply out, this world would be transformed in a really would...because deep breathing calms us, centers us, awakens those parts of us that we have stuffed, repressed, or have just wanted to forget.

I've gotten to about 26 minutes of deep breathing and I cried like a baby. I had such stirring memories - future as well as past - as to what life could truly be about. Just like the book says, when we free our breath, we free our life.

That shallow little nose and mouth breath we do is not breathing, just like those Chicken McNuggets and that extra large coke is not sustenance. We need to spend time nourishing our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls in ways that replenish us and awaken us to the beauty that just sits and waits for us to finally notice...


I mean, really, really is a is the gift.

Peace & Blessings.
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