Last year I told everyone who would listen about a book I was reading—Breath by James Nestor—and how radically it had impacted my thinking. Most of us breathe poorly, and it’s a real problem. Another excellent, easy-to-browse resource to get your breathing back on track is Jean Hall’s Breathe: Simple Breathing Techniques for a Calmer, Happier Life. You might think of it as the “now do this” counterpart to Nestor’s researched narrative. The breathing exercises offered here, many of which are adapted from yogic philosophy, are designed “to return the breath to its natural optimum pattern of slow, soft, steady spaciousness,” Hall writes. The outcome? Better mental and physical health (and yes, science backs this up). Some breath patterns are designed to enable sleep, others to energize or focus the mind, some to prep for meditation. If a class-based yoga practice isn’t the right fit for you, this book offers some of the basic teachings in a clear, succinct format.


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