I recently received a great question from someone on the One Deep Breath App that I wanted to write about:
What are your favorite books about breathwork?
While One Deep Breath is a great resource for learning not just how to perform certain breathing patterns and techniques, but also the science behind why they’re so effective for combatting stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders, we’ll be the first to admit that One Deep Breath is not the only breathwork resource out there that’s worth looking into.
No matter where you are on your breathwork journey or what you’re trying to improve in your life, there’s a plethora of great books out there – here are 7 of my favorites, in no particular order.
Note: This is by no means the definitive list of breathwork books. There are probably dozens of amazing books that our team hasn’t read. If you think we missed one, let us know in the comments below!
1. Breath by James Nestor
Why it made our list: I know this probably sounds a bit cliche, but this book has been life-changing for me. It’s what ignited my passion for breathing science and practices, and I know hundreds of other people who feel the same way.
Breath has been a perennial best-seller since its release for a simple reason: it addresses the skepticism that naturally comes with the notion that changing something as simple as how you breathe could have such profound effects on stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, respiratory ailments, digestion, and everything in between.
It isn’t packed with practical exercises, but it’s hands-down one of the best-written books we’ve come across, period. It’s thought provoking, interesting, and at times, hilarious.
Best for: Beginners, skeptics, or anyone looking to jump into the world of conscious breathing.
PS: This book makes a great gift for just about anyone.
2. The Power of Breathwork by Jennifer Patterson
Why it made our list: Simply put, this book is delightful to read. It’s light on the science but has a plethora of both science-based and ancient (Pranayama, yogic & Buddhist) breathing techniques, all with stunning illustrations and visuals to help guide you along.
It’s a very easy read, and something you could flip through over a weekend and come back to whenever you want a refresher.
Best for: Beginners looking for an easy introduction or those interested primarily in spiritual/meditative techniques.
3. Just Breathe by Dan Brule
Why it made our list: This is one of the best overall intros to the world of breathwork as a whole. If you’re looking for a solid mix of modern and ancient techniques for both relaxation and energy, look no further than Just Breathe.
You’ll learn about the Buteyko Method, various Pranayama exercises, breathing techniques used by Navy Seals, and dozens of other actionable tools to add to your breathwork arsenal, all while learning the science and history behind the practices.
Best for: Fans of meditation, yoga, or biohacking looking to explore the world of breathwork.
4. A Practical Guide to Breathwork by Jesse Coomer
Why it made our list: Just as the title implies, this book wastes no time getting to the meat of how you can use the breath to alter your physiology. It contains dozens of patterns, exercises, and techniques to help you deliver the exact effect you’re looking for.
While it’s sometimes challenging to describe how to perform exercises without audio or visual guidance, Jesse is second-to-none in his ability to guide the reader through these techniques.
Best for: Those looking for instant practicality with minimal fluff.
5. The Oxygen Advantage by Dr. Patrick McKeown
Why it made our list: In the realm of pulmonology, it’s hard to think of an author with more knowledge than Dr. Patrick McKeown.
A disciple of the famed physician Dr. Konstantin Buteyko (the creator of the Buteyko Method, of course), Dr. McKeown uses the Oxygen Advantage to dispel a plethora of the most common breathing-related myths, including:
- Why breathing more air isn’t better.
- Why breathing out of your nose can increase efficiency.
- Why taking a deep breath isn’t the same as taking a big breath.
Best for: The Oxygen Advantage book is oriented towards athletes, fitness geeks, and biohackers. It’s heavy on science and one of the more challenging reads but is well worth the required extra effort.
PS: Dr. Patrick McKeown comes up again later in this list as the final recommendation.
6. Honorable Mentions: Three Biohacking Bibles
This spot is a bit of a cop-out, but I’d like to recommend three books that are all related to breathwork in the sense that they’ll provide you with a better holistic understanding of how various physical, social, and environmental factors influence your overall health.
1. The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory by Stephen Porges
Best for: Anyone suffering from PTSD, panic disorders, or other neurological ailments.
2. Becoming the Iceman by Wim Hof
Best for: Soon-to-be world-record-breaking biohackers (or just those of us looking for some motivation to take a cold shower).
3. What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney
Best for: Those of us who aren’t Wim Hof, but wonder what it’s like to try his crazy stunts.
7. The Breathing Cure by Dr. Patrick McKeown
Why it made our list: If you’re looking for the ultimate reference book on the how and why behind breathwork, look no further than The Breathing Cure by Dr. Patrick McKeown, the author of our #5 spot, The Oxygen Advantage.
This book perfectly straddles the line between being simple enough for non-scientists like myself to understand and benefit from it while being comprehensive enough to answer nearly every possible question you could have about the breath.
It includes chapters on:
- Stress, anxiety & panic disorders
- Focus, attention & concentration
- Health, immunity & athletic performance
- Sleep disorders (sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia, etc.)
- Diabetes, digestion & weight management
- Seizure control, sexual function & more
Best for: If you’re already sold on the power of the breath, this is the single best resource out there. It’s truly a massive service to the breathwork community as a whole.
PS: This was my favorite book of 2021, and I was lucky enough to get a signed pre-order copy.
What’s YOUR Favorite Breathwork Resource?
Is there a book that we missed? How about a podcast or audiobook? Let us know in the comments below!