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Science of Breath
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on December 14, 2016
"Breath is life..." and has an esoteric meaning (Air) as well as an esoteric meaning (prana). Control of the breath leads to control of body and mind with Prana. Rhythmic Breath plus Will can lead to the healing of the whole body or part thereof; and to healing others. The author promises 'concise" instructions and exercises towards breathing correctly. He succeeds in doing so and provides several exercises for cultivating breath as pertains to physical, mental and spiritual development. Behind it all are principles of correct breathing; everything vibrates; and you can heal yourself and others with correct breathing.
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This is an oldie, but a goody. The first edition came out in 1979, but as its intent is to provide an overview of the anatomy and physiology of breath for yoga practitioners, the fact that it doesn’t access the bleeding edge of respiratory science isn’t all that detrimental.

This short book consists of four chapters. Two chapters are by the famous yogi Swami Rama, and the other two are written by medical doctors. The first chapter is an introduction to breath from the yogic perspective. It both explains why it’s so important to understand and work with breath and introduces the mythic physiology (prana, nadi, etc.) that has historically been used to explain pranayama (breath exercises.)

The second chapter is written by Dr. Alan Hymes and it explains the mechanics of respiration. While Chapter 2 focuses on the anatomy of breathing, it begins with an explanation of cellular respiration to introduce the role of breath in powering muscles. There is a fine explanation of the operation of the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles in breathing.

Chapter 3 is written by Dr. Rudolph Ballentine, and it delves into the role of the nose and nasal cavities in respiration. Breathing through the nose is emphasized in both yoga and many other systems of breath training (e.g. the Buteyko and Wim Hof methods.) This is because the nasal cavities perform many useful functions such as moisturizing and warming air, capturing pollutants, and extract heating and moisture from exhaled breath. Besides exploring nasal anatomy and physiology, Dr. Ballentine describes jala neti shatkarma (nasal cleansing with salt water) and nadi shoudhana (alternate nostril breathing.)

The final chapter, written by Swami Rama, mostly describes various techniques of pranayama (breathing exercises) and related practices bandhas and mudras (locks and seals in which bodily parts are contracted or constricted.) However, the chapter begins with a mix of physiology and mythic physiology. That is, it explains some topics not addressed earlier--such as the interaction between the nervous and the cardiovascular systems as well as chakra.

My standing complaint about books that weave together science and pseudo-science is mitigated a bit herein. My problem with putting these ideas together is that it can be difficult for the reader to determine what concepts reflect reality and which offer models to help one visualize energy. However, except for the last chapter, this book does a good job of keeping these ideas separate. The chapters by the medical doctors present the science with minimal intrusion of unscientific concepts. Swami Rama does present science and mythology together, but not so much scrambled together in a confusing mish-mash.

Chapters 2 through 4 use a number of graphics to help present the material. In the middle chapters these largely consist of line drawings to convey the relevant anatomical features or physical actions. The last chapter adds photographs to demonstrate relevant postures. There is a page of recommended readings, but it’s more of an advertisement for other books put out by the Himalayan Institute than the recommendation of books on the science of breath.

I found this book to be educational. It packs a lot of useful information into a concise package and is readable to a layman. I’d recommend it for yoga practitioners and others who are engaged in breath work.
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on September 13, 2016
This book is one and the same as 'Science Of Breath', published in 1904 and 1905, written by one Yogi Ramacharaka who is thought to be William Walker Atkinson. There is enough on google re the author without going into detail here.

This is an important book. Chi Kung practitioners, singers, orators, yogis, the ordinary person in the street who wants better health, asthmatics etc can all benefit from the exercises in this book, deceptively simple but profound in their effects on the body and mind.

The practice of these exercises CAN be life-changing, as awareness grows of the Life Energy inside us all, and its ability to be directed by the Mind with diligent application. A caution I would mention here; don't overdo the exercises. They are powerful and can result in exhaustion (however temporary) if carried to excess. Proceed slowly and in an orderly manner. You have the rest of your life to practice them.

The writing is of course turn-of-the-19th/20th century English which I found personally delightful, however others may not. Rest assured the meanings and directions of this course will not be lost on the modern reader, plain and simple as they are.

The book is/was offered for free, a great gift. It's also definitely worth paying for and should grace any serious student's library.
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I have always been interested various forms of Asian and Indian exercise and health movements and exercises. As a lifelong martial artist and exercise enthusiast I am always seeking to learn new and unique ways to improve myself. When I saw this 127 page soft cover book (The science of breath: a practical guide by Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, MD. and Alan Hymes, M.D.) on Amazon for a bargain price I had to purchase it.

I found it interesting that I already teach many of these same breathing exercises in my Chair/Seated Tai Chi, Qigong and Yoga for seniors and the physically challenged classes, but this book explained in much greater detail the many aspects involved in proper breathing. This book covered the following material: a foreword by Linda Johnsen, an introduction by John Clarke, M.D., why bother to breath? Yoga and the body of energy, following your nose: nasal function and energy, portal to higher awareness: the science of breath and recommendations for further study.

Even though this book was published in 1979, and 1998 the information is still relevant today. If you are seeking an easy to understand book on the importance of proper breathing you should check out this volume.

Rating: 4 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Never trust a politician: A critical review of politics and politicians).
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on May 31, 2016
A lot of great knowledge in this book, I highly recommend it. I will be doing the exercises in this book, already started actually, and I honestly never thought that breathing in the ways this book suggests could make me feel so incredible in a short time. The breathing exercises are already helping me a great deal with some mental health conditions; depression, OCD, PTSD...I have finally found a great way for me to quiet my mind.
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on January 3, 2014
Many people pay a lot of attention on what to eat. Very few people pay attention to on how they breath. Proper breathing is highly correlated to our health. Without food, one can live for one month or more (by drinking water only). Without breathing, one cannot stand for long.

This book covers the theory and provides practices that can be rather easily followed. It starts with simple, physical practices and leads you to the more advanced practices, which may be used for healing or expanding one's awareness.

I have been practicing meditation and kung-fu. I have also studied spirituality for many years. This book helps me to see more clearly the role and importance of breathing in many of these practices. I have started to incorporate the techniques taught in the book into my daily practice. I feel that I have benefited a lot from this book. Some other books by this author (William Atkinson/Yogi Ramacharaka) also seem to be quite interesting.

About the Author(s):
The tone and the contents of this book indicate that it is written by knowledgeable and experienced Yogis. The author was originally listed as Yogi Ramacharaka. Some people thought that it was a pseudonym used by William Atkinson. It seems to me that either Atkinson studied with some very good Yogis, or he was collaborating with some --- physically or through channeling (like how Jane Robert channeled Seth).
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on May 25, 2018
We all breathe or we die. As a retired RN and a current Yoga teacher i love this book. Lots of concrete physiology paired with an explanation of the Eastern thought on the Subtle Body . If you want to know more about your body. This is a good book.
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on February 12, 2014
Breathing is usually an unconscious function of our bodys beautiful.....and this is a good thing....but knowing more about
proper breathing, and the many health benefits will definately increase your overall health in body, mind and spirit....then.
you will be able to knowledge with your children and they are so eager to learn about their bodies and
how interesting and magically it adults its important that we educate ourselves, as we have most likely not been
formally taught ourselves, then our responsibility is to lovingly inform those we love.....Sally
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on December 2, 2017
Somewhat advanced for the lay person but still the best book on this subject I've ever seen.
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on June 24, 2016
This is just a horribly formatted cheap publication made to turn over and sell to the public.
I ended up printing the entire book (This Book can be found as a free pdf online) and making my own book with a hole puncher and a little binder. Much easier and more enjoyable to read than the version I purchased.
3 people found this helpful
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