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Science of Breath

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  522 ratings  ·  43 reviews
For thousands of years, yogic adepts have claimed that breath is the essential link between body and mind, energizing a "subtle body" which connects the physical and mental aspects of our being. In this landmark book, Swami Rama and two noted American physicians explore the science of breath as the missing key to both physical health and the attainment of higher states of ...more
Paperback, 119 pages
Published February 8th 2005 by Himalayan Institute Press (first published May 31st 1940)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  522 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book I return to often. On the surface, discusses the mechanics - and "science" (as per the title) - of breath. But, in reality, offers so much more: it engages you in a discourse on the very nature of our existence. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
Amit Srivastava
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science, but man needs both."

Almost a decade and a half ago, I had read a book, The Tao of Physics, that had a lasting effect on me. The book was written by a particle Physicist, Fritjof Capra, who happened to have some spiritual experiences. The book was all about drawing parallels between particle physics and eastern philosophies (Tao, Zen, Vedas etc. ). Although the book was written in 1970s, and Science (esp. particle physics) has
May 03, 2007 rated it liked it
This book takes several approaches to exploring the breathing process. It looks at breath from a scientific point of view as well as yogic perceptions and manipulations of the breath. This is a dry read, but informative for those interested.
Kristie Hayes
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book about breath awareness. It's a small book, and could probably be read in one sitting, but I like to read one or two chapters at a time. This book discusses the importance of proper breathing for our physical and emotional health. The books explains respiratory physiology and also the idea of breath in yoga. I really liked the discussion on the right and left nostrils, and the section that advises how you should lay down before going to bed greatly interested me, as I had bee ...more
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is an extremely quick read, but is really fascinating. It has definitely changed my life. Written by both Western doctors and by Swami Rama, a yoga master, Science of Breath details the fundamental importance of breath to the mind and to the body, as well to the connection between them.
The breath and the mind are intimately and immediately connected. Just as certain types of breathing are characteristic of certain mental states (for example, quick, shallow chest-breathing as an immediate r
Dec 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting read. It was a bit more anatomy-focused than I expected, but a great emphasis on this amazing body function we all have and take for granted.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
I looked into this book as it has good reviews, however there are other books with the same title written by other authors. Swami Rama did write only the second part of the book, it was written by westerners for westerners... it seems to be somewhat misleading. the writing style of the first part written by 'medicals' is uninteresting and often uses medical terms that are not properly explained nor understood by common people. As Einstein says 'if you cannot explain it simply you do not understa ...more
Mary Meade
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simple and effective.

While the authors don't give insight to my most vexing questions, "Which came first the chicken or the egg?" and, by simple extention, "who created god? ", they do provide a clear discussion on the mundane act of breathing. Who would have thought the correct way of breathing could lead one to better health. Or enlightenment. This is a book I will treat more like a manual - specific chapters to be read over and over until so engrained it's practices become as natural as breat
Pavlov's Gods
May 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not as rigorous in its presentation of material as I'd like a book that claims to unite Western and Eastern understanding of breath; makes claims unsubstantiated to attempt to bridge the gap between the two. Still enjoyed it, but that might be because I don't know much about the subject area so everything was new, I would not be surprised if I like it less once I read other works pertaining to the same subject.
Pauly Morphous
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good overview on the importance of breathing, how it connects to our various physiological systems and it's importance in the context of yoga. A lot of the book is supported by a solid amount of science as opposed to the rafts of mysticism one might expect though it does touch on some uncharted territory.

It's a quick read and you should come away with some tangible advice if you are not already a breathing expert.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A short, but interesting look at breath from a scientific and a yogic perspective. A cooperation between scientists and an accomplished yogi. A look into something that we take for granted, but which can easily be shown to be of truly great importance to our physical and mental well-being.
Breath, the llink between our voluntary and involuntary systems, the supplier of nutrition to all systems of our body, and you can do so much with it.
Lavanya Madhusudan
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Definitely worth a read. Learned a lot about the physiology behind breathing and how it connects the body and mind. Also learned that Western medicine largely ignores the importance of breathing and the crucial role it plays in health. Learned about yogic breathing exercises, and how the breath is central in yogic philosophy and practice, and the correct way to practice several breathing exercises. Great book!
Apart from useful physiology the exercises are in effect restricted for advanced students

Good but feel that the magic of breath yoga is held out and out of reach for the reader and hardly an attempt is made to make this accessible with encouragement and easy exercises that can be followed and checked against the instruction. There are better books out there. But useful descriptions of the anatomy of breathe and its circulation within the body.
Sandy L Jones
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A concise look at a big topic

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.

Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: health, breathing
Not too dense. Exercises are not well depicted (graphically), but are fairly comprehensive
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
A good reference.. although I found all lot of content generic and repeated from other texts - didn't find anything unique. But it was a good foundation / essential reading book.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its very helpful and informative book. And foundation book for all yoga and pranayama practitioners.
It gives basic idea how prana/energy flow happens in the lungs.
Bett Correa-Bollhoefer
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good basic primer on breathing. I learned some basic maintenance tips for keeping my nose unclogged. Very worth reading.
Wenona Hulsey
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative

Great for the person interested in the functions of breath on the body and a basic outline on breathing exercises.
Hugo Filipe
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Too much science, too little pranayama
Savan Vyas
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good books

Covers a lot but could have been more detailed on level of practices and how much much To do when. It goes good job on introduction of it.
Bernie Gourley
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yoga practitioners and those interested in the science of breath.
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
May 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality, yoga
This slim book provides a practical introduction to the yogic concept of breath and how to utilize it to link body and mind. With chapters written by Swami Rama and by medical doctors, the book explores both Eastern and Western perspectives for a well-rounded view of the topic, helping the reader to understand first the mechanics of how and why we breathe before delving into the yogic breathing techniques.

The Foreword, Introduction, and Chapter 1 give background on the breath and explore the rat
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I originally read this book when I was doing my yoga teacher training as it was required reading. I read it, was wowed at the time, highlighted, and made lots of notes in the margins. But at that moment I was reading and studying a lot of material and part of the job was simply to get through it all.

On this re-read, I chose to move slowly so as to ponder and better digest the fascinating material.

Science of Breath is filled with amazing information and is truly inspirational! Here are some intr
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pranayama 101

Interesting take on introducing the interested Yoga student to pranayama. I liked the lengthy introduction covering some anatomical topics not normally discussed even in a four hour intro to pranayama class.

If you've taken an intro class and then read a couple of books discussing pranayama already there still may be a couple of different exercises like "Sandbag Breathing" that you may not have come across before and is actually helpful. I don't think there're any critically importan
Lauren Gullion
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yoga
I basically read this book in one sitting. I did this, first, because it's not very long. But, also, it's fascinating. If only science in school could have this immediate connection and application to life. Breath is such a powerful tool and influence, not only in life but also on the yoga mat. For that reason, I highly recommend this book for anyone with breathing issues of any sort (allergies, sleep apnea, sinus issues) as well as for yoga teachers and practicioners.
Apr 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: future and current yogis/fitness persons
Recommended to Audrey by: yoga teacher training course
Good book to read to better understand 'behind the scenes' of breathing and all the great things that deep breathing and breath control can do for your body and mind. Lots of things I already knew from anatomy courses and yoga workshops, but also a bit of new and interesting topics and techniques that I look forward to reading more about in the future
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A must read for any one who doesn't have an idea about the relation of breath to body and mind. The book is an excellent compilation of essays both from the filed of medical sciences and the esoteric path.

The book is an excellent juxtaposition of both views that complement and supplement each other.

An excellent read!
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
*Highly recommended.* Ignore the cheesy looking nose on the cover. Gives you real ways to improve mental and physical health through breathing and enough background knowledge / science to convince you it's actually going to work.
John Hawkins
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have owned and read two editions of "The Science of Breath." we used it in my basic Yoga training in 1998. I prefer it over all the pranayama (breathing techniques) books. It is simple and informative.
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Swāmī Rāma was born Brij Kiśore Dhasmana or Brij Kiśore Kumar,to a northern Indian Brahmin family in a small village called Toli in the Garhwal Himalayas. From an early age he was raised in the Himalayas by his master Bengali Baba and, under the guidance of his master, traveled from temple to temple and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster, who was living ...more

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“The breath has, then, a profound effect on man’s physical and psychological functioning since it is the link between the body and mind. The nose, therefore, as the major portal of breath into the body, plays a crucial role.” 0 likes
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