The breath holds a critical place in both our physiological and our emotional landscapes; at one level the breath sustains physical life and cellular respiration; at another it is the link between the voluntary and autonomic branches of the nervous system; at yet another level it is a key barometer on how we feel, our inner landscape, at any one time; and then yet further still yogis endow the breath as being synonymous with Prana, the life force and essential energy behind our subtle bodies.
Writing a comprehensive and multi faceted guide to these disparate threads is a tall order, but one the author has achieved as she systematically works through the physiology, anatomy and biochemistry of breathing along with Prana, the subtle body and our Energy.
Pranayama – the yogic breath practices – come with quite a legacy of differing practices, methods and intentions across differing yoga styles, and the author does well to avoid getting caught up in competing dogmas in this area. Instead she strips Pranayama back to simple practices with little effort behind them, which certainly appeals to myself as a practitioner.
On such a wide ranging topic there cannot be definitive approaches to what are very personal experiences and practices, and inevitably there are aspects of the authors recommendations for therapeutic use of the breath I would diverge from; yet I found this book a stimulus to benchmark, challenge and reconsider practices, professional and personal, even if my own experiences differ.
This is, as the sub title suggests, very much a book for the professional in yoga, therapy or healthcare, but experienced practitioners will certainly gain from it as well.
At just under 400 pages its a comprehensive work, one which I learned from, and which I will keep to return to.