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The Healing Power of the Breath: Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress and Anxiety, Enhance Concentration, and Balance Your Emotions Paperback – Jun 12 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1 Pap/Com edition (June 12 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590309022
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590309025
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #37,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Whether we are facing the distressful outcomes of trauma or simply seeking relief from the stresses of everyday life, the life-changing steps in this book and audio program provide the essential skills we need to bring health into our lives.”—Daniel J. Siegel, MD, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine, author of Mindsight
“As pioneering researchers in the field of mind body practices and mental health, Drs. Gerbarg and Brown have researched the ancient traditions, both Eastern and Western, and know what works. In their groundbreaking new book, they keep it simple —no religion, no deities, no mumbo jumbo; just clear breathing instruction easily introduced in a clinical setting or for use at home.” —Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga Skills for Therapists and Yoga for Depression
“Firmly based in scientific and clinical observations, the simple techniques in The Healing Power of the Breath are a breakthrough for anyone wishing to lessen stress, balance emotions, and/or enhance concentration. The book is engaging and clearly-written, which makes the techniques it introduces easy to learn and put into practice.  Best of all, these techniques require no special training and give results without the harmful side effect of pharmaceuticals.  I have personally witnessed their effectiveness treating veterans with combat stress or PTSD.  Highly recommended.” —Shad Meshad, president and founder of the National Veterans Foundation

The Healing Power of the Breath is an accessible book on a very important topic. Drs. Brown and Gerbarg deal with the complex subject of breathing and how it can impact our mental health from both conventional medicine and concepts from ancient philosophies. With a blend of anecdotes, citations from published medical literature, and actual practical sessions, this book is for anyone who would like to develop their self-help skills to improve their sense of wellbeing.” —Shirley Telles MBBS, Ph.D. (Neurophysiology); director of the Patanjali Research Foundation, Haridwar, India (, and head of the Indian Council of Medical Research Center for Advanced Research in Yoga and Neurophysiology, Bangalore, India

About the Author

A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at New York Medical College and maintains a private practice, and facilitates research on mind-body treatments for anxiety, PTSD, and stress-related medical conditions. She has lectured on integrative treatments in psychiatry at the American Psychiatric Association, and other professional conferences.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this quick guide to using the breath for healing. Although I've been breathing my way to mental and physical well-being for the past 35 years, I have learned quite a bit of new information from this small handbook. Only a few, easy-to-learn and easy-to-do breaths are offered in this manual, specifically so as NOT to overwhelm the reader. There are, after all, seemingly endless varieties of breathwork that one can do. However, each breath pattern in this book has been carefully selected for its ease and practicality. The specific healing benefits of each is clearly described. A short table at the end of the book helps the reader know which breath to select for which purpose. I would say that this book is valuable to both novices and experienced breathwork practitioners. As a psychological professional with a special interest in the are of stress management, I know that this is a book I will be recommending again and again to my clients. However, it is also a text that I myself will continue to enjoy and refer to. Highly recommended!
Sarah Chana Radcliffe, author "Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one book that offers exactly as promised. The techniques are simple and effective. The accompanying CD well serves what is presented in the book. This is one of the very few books of this nature that I eagerly recommend to friends.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
well written. good ideas. exercises are not complicated, although the directions are a little wordy. good reminder to breath.
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By hc on July 14 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very good reading and great book. author does of great job with the healing power of the breath to make it understood.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa8033a20) out of 5 stars 63 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa80585b8) out of 5 stars This book helps me catch my breath July 9 2012
By Stephen Larsen - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book helps me catch my breath!

What I mean is that when I discover physicians who are dedicated healers, I become more than excited. They are practicing the new medicine I feel is waiting for us in the 21st century.

Drs. Brown and Gerbarg have training from the best medical schools in the U.S., yet they take us back to the simplest and most profound of natural therapies - the healing power of the breath - as the title says. Breathing is something all of us do, every day--with insufficient attention. It is only in the synergy of these two capacities, breath and awareness, the authors show us, that we can breathe our way to health.

Do not be put off by the brevity and accessibility of this book. In addition to their medical and scientific training, Brown and Gerbarg are familiar with the ancient technologies of consciousness that undergird the practices they present; particularly, Yoga and Qi Gong. I have been fortunate enough to study with some of the same traditional teachers from whom they learned, but they have gone beyond their mentors in giving scientific validation to the methods they teach.

Clincally, Brown and Gerbarg have helped traumatized people all over the world using their techniques: victims of floods and tsunamis, returning vets, 9/11 survivors, and the families of those who didn't survive. Participants say the workshops invariably leave one with a feeling of inner peace, and yet exhilaration. The book and its accompanying CD are the next best thing to an actual experience with the teachers. It's not quite the same as being in the room with a hundred people going through the exercises--but it's the next best thing, because you can do it on your own time and in your own home or sanctuary. Another option is that it allows people who have already taken the courses to take the method home and integrate it into their lives.

I plan to have the book and CD available in my waiting room, and will recommend them to all my patients.

Stephen Larsen, Ph.D., psychologist and author
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa805860c) out of 5 stars Love this book! July 9 2012
By Amy Weintraub - Published on
Format: Paperback
As pioneering researchers in the field of mind body practices and mental health, Drs. Gerbarg and Brown have researched the ancient traditions, both Eastern and Western, and know what works. They keep it simple--no religion, no deities--just clear breathing instruction easily introduced in a clinical setting or for use at home.
The authors have researched across cultures to find universal practices that they describe in simple language that is easy to follow. The anchor breath upon which other practices are added is Coherent Breathing, an even inhalation and exhalation that slows the breathing rate to five breaths per minute. This simple breath increases heart rate variability and balances the stress-response system.
In each practice, the authors offer trouble shooting tips--what to do if your nose is stuffed up, what if you fall asleep, what if you run out of breath, or what if the practice hurts the throat--so that practice can be adapted to every reader's circumstance.
The authors suggest a combination of practices that they call "Total Breath." This practice includes Coherent Breathing, the yoga pranayama, Ujjayi, which they call "Resistance Breathing" and "Breath Moving," an ancient practice from China, which involves visualizing the breath moving through different parts of the body. It's fascinating to learn that many of these practices were developed independently in Hawaii, and by Russian monks. "Traces of these practices," say the authors, "have remained as part of the training for elite Russian Special Forces soldiers."
There are stories of healing in relationship through breath practice, as well as the beneficial impact on the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. "I came away [from a two-day workshop with the authors] with a sense of being reunited with my life and my loved ones," says a woman deeply affected by the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. The authors have taken their breathing training, "Breath~Body~Mind" to areas of the world where disaster has struck--the Sudan, first responders to the attack on the World Trade Center and into a clinical setting for those who have suffered from early childhood trauma. Brown and Gerbarg discuss these cases with compassion and insight, often using the patient's words to describe their positive changes as a result of the breathing.
In addition to the narrative descriptions, the Appendix contains clear charts that indicate how and when to use each practice and the suggested order of practice.
In the CD included with the book. Dr. Brown leads listeners through each exercise. This is a wonderful learning tool that can be used daily to guide your own practice.
--Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga Skills for Therapists (W.W. Norton), Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books).
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8058a44) out of 5 stars Excellent read-The Healilng Power of the Breath Aug. 20 2012
By Dr Ray Scurfield - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a lot of good material and references packed into this small book. Most importantly to me, it is good as a "self-help" resource or for practitioners because of the detailed procedures. I have already used the 2-4-2-6 breath count with several clients--it is quite easy to learn and seems to be a great way for those with anxiety issues to be able to promote self-calming. Now take a deep breath...:)
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8058a2c) out of 5 stars audio files online Feb. 20 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I bought the book, after reading reviews that said that there was no way to get the audio files with the Kindle version. Once I ordered it, Amazon had some kind of WHY WAIT? link, that allowed me to read the 1st part in the Cloud. There, I found a link to the audio files online. Had I known that, I would've bought the cheaper Kindle version.

BUT, when I tried copying the link, which was www .shambala .com/ healingpowerofthebreath (Amazon TOOK OUT that link in my 1st version of this review, so put those components together), to another window, it brought me to some opportunity to buy the Shambala domain. ???? When I simply clicked on it, it brought me to the site, where I was able to download the mp3 files.

SO, it's still unclear about how available those audio files are for the Kindle version. If you have a Kindle or Kindle app, you also have access to the cloud version of the book. So, the link should work there. I say 'should', but I haven't done that, in exactly that way, so I don't know..

All the way around, they could've done a much better job of making those audio files clearly available to Kindle readers.

And, let me say THANKS to people who write these reviews. I often get the best information, such as pointers to better books, or other material. It's really great that so many people are out to help each other.

The rating of 3 stars isn't accurate. I've just started the book, in the cloud, so I don't know how good it is. But, I wanted to relate my experience accessing the files, and some kind of rating seemed necessary.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8058ef4) out of 5 stars A Must Read! July 16 2012
By Heather Mason - Published on
Format: Paperback
A wonderful read! Brown and Gerbarg seamlessly mix self-help with science for a totally convincing, well-documented, and practical guide for how to use breath for emotional transformation. As a therapist and yoga teacher with an extensive background in the psycho-biology of stress I was pleased to find this unique gem that offered practices that were easy to use and truly effective. Brown and Gerbarg are masters at sharing cutting edge research in a way that is accessible to the public while equally addressing professionals in an innovative and insightful way. Anyone looking to reduce stress will readily benefit from its techniques. Whether you just want to reduce jittery thoughts, decrease negative thinking or find healthy ways to manage PTSD or chronic pain, this book is a valuable resource!

As the writers reflect "By voluntarily changing the rate, depth and pattern of breathing we can change the messages being sent from the body's respiratory system to the brain....if we feel anxious, just a few minutes of Coherent Breathing (a practice taught extensively in the book) can calm our worried mind and foster more rational decision making" Based on years of research and experience this hands-on manual is paired with a user friendly CD that gently guides the reader through various breath practices. When I was stressed I popped on the CD, put on track one and was quickly transported to a sense of greater ease and calm. As I advanced through the book and continued to follow the cumulative instructions in conjunction with the CD, I have seen great self-improvements and I was totally sold! As someone who develops programs for mental health, I am well-aware of the impact of breath and was impressed to find what seemed to be a one-stop shop on how to use breathing to enhance well-being. I have since recommended this book to clients and am getting wonderful feedback and seeing inspiring results. The practices are safe and can be practiced by anyone, further, as the authors are seasoned psychiatrists they are able to pre-empt any issues that readers might have with the breath practices and provide sound solutions. At the back of the book there are specific programs designed for various mental health conditions making this book a perfect find for those who require immediate guidance or are looking for a long-term reference for stress related issues
I say thumbs up! Read it

Heather Mason
Founder Yoga Therapy for the Mind