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The Power of Breathing

by Ute Gerzabek

listed in asthma

[Image: The Power of Breathing]

This is an impressively original and innovative book, by an author whose careers include professional singer, teacher and qualified breathing trainer.

The techniques utilised include an eclectic mix of Feldenkrais, Alexander, Middendorf and Wolf, as well as various eastern practices, including Yoga.

The importance of proper and efficient breathing in health enhancement is becoming widely recognised across the entire range of therapeutic disciplines. Incorrect breathing patterns, such as hyper- or hypo-ventilation and shallow breathing can contribute significantly to many physical, emotional and psychological health problems, such as panic attacks, back pain and may even contribute to illnesses with breathing disorders such as asthma. Specialised breathing techniques such as Buteyko breathing have been developed to specifically counter conditions such as asthma.

This book introduces the anatomy and various types of breathing, and is extensively and well-illustrated with hundreds of coloured diagrams. The author devotes a chapter to effective exercising, where all aspects of exercising are covered, including the place, equipment, clothing, warming up and setting reasonable goals. The basic positions for all exercises are clearly illustrated, including standing, squatting, kneeling, sitting and lying positions.

The majority of the book involves a multitude of breathing exercises, from becoming aware of your breathing, to many routines which are specific for different parts of the body, i.e. ribs and diaphragm, lower back, buttocks, abdomen and legs.

There are a variety of sequences, each taking about 15 minutes, each of which is illustrated, with the purpose and objectives explained clearly. Many of these appear somewhat similar to yoga. There is a considerable progression involved in each sequence; some of these postures require a fair degree of flexibility and might be prohibitively difficult to achieve for people with back or other injuries.

Many people who would most benefit from many of these breathing exercises are those whose breathing is restricted, possibly because of injury or lack of flexibility and mobility. My principal criticism of the book is that is does not readily appear to accommodate this group, which is a shame, because alternative or intermediate positions could be provided in order to encourage people with more limited physical prowess.

The book concludes with a very useful section on how good breathing can be integrated into the daily routine, from waking up, while doing skin brushing, eating, and how to counteract tension. There is finally an entire section about how to overcome shallow breathing, how to stay alert and getting to sleep.

At the back of the book is a chart recommending various exercises to counteract various conditions, such as tiredness, low energy levels, anger, irritability, insomnia, even digestive problems, blocked sinuses and a stiff back.

This is a lovely book which also serves a useful purpose, to highlight the importance of correct and effective breathing to all aspects of our daily life and in promoting health.

Sandra Goodman PhD

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