Monday, November 24, 2008

Take a deep breath...

Breathe Smart: the secret to happiness, health and long life / Aaron Hoopes
Vershire, VT : Zen Yoga Press, c2008.
80 p.

This is a book I received from Mini Book Expo. It interested me because for a few years I was taking yoga classes and found that what I most appreciated was learning how to breathe properly. It is something that we can always use a reminder of, and I found this small book very helpful.

It's a brief book by a 20 year veteran of yoga and the martial arts, Aaron Hoopes. He created an amalgam he calls Zen Yoga, and it looks fascinating. This book covers the different elements necessary to breathe consciously and powerfully; posture, breathing techniques and exercises, and the role breath can play in stress relief and even weight loss. As he says in the introduction:

The ideas presented here may seem like an oversimplification at times, yet the plain fact is that most of us simply do not breathe effectively. We consign our breathing process to a reflexive act at a subsistence level, totally unaware of the potentials that would flow from more breath consciousness.

The reminder to breathe deeply is very effective in stress relief (I'll have to wait on a judgement as to how it affects weight loss!). The way he lays out the breathing exercises makes it very easy to follow along and get the hang of them. He even points out that deep breathing is not equivalent to hyperventilation! I found it to be a calm and relaxed approach to the subject, with lots of useful information despite the brief nature of the book, and it makes me want to look at a few of the other books he has available on his website as well. I think that a person who is interested in yoga or simply in increasing one's health levels naturally would find this a useful guide -- and it's the perfect size for a stocking stuffer. Just the thing to get someone started on their New Year's resolution to get healthier.


  1. This sounds really good. I had a big problem with panic attacks a few years ago, and I found breathing exercises to be very helpful. As far as weight loss...

  2. If I'm feeling stressed at work, I find it's helpful to step outside for a few minutes and breathe deeply. I also like to yell out "Serenity Now!" from Seinfeld. But it's true, like the author says, that breathing is so reflexive for us that we just don't think about it.

  3. Chain Reader - one can always hope... ;)

    Charley - I forgot about the Seinfeld line! Have you ever watched the BBC show "Black Books"? In that, stress relief advice from the Little Book of Calm is: "If you feel stressed, eat a peach." That always makes me laugh.

  4. Melanie,
    I accidentally stumbled across your review and would like to thank you for your kind words on the work I'm doing.
    wishing you warm blessings and much peace,
    Aaron Hoopes


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