An Overview of Breathwork

Gunnel Minett

Out of print

Quick Look

This is a comprehensive overview of the development of breathwork in the modern world, and a detailed account of its uses and applications.

234 x 154 mm
Floris Books
Holistic Health
242 pages
Publication date:
28 Oct 2004


-- Reflects a growing interest in breathing techniques through yoga and Tai Chi
-- Provides a comprehensive, historical overview of breathwork
-- Not tied to one particular technique or method

The way we breathe has deeper consequences than is often perceived, and there is a spiritual side to breathing which has been known throughout human history. Exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi are reintroducing some of this knowledge to the Western world.

This is a comprehensive overview of the role of the breath, or 'breathwork', for physical and psychological wellbeing. Gunnel Minett places breathwork in its wider context, giving a detailed account of its value and uses.

She contrasts different breathwork techniques, and also compares ancient knowledge with the most current Western research. She shows how it is possible to use the breath to achieve positive changes for body and mind. Some simple breathing exercises are included as a first step towards awareness of better breathing.

This book is ideal for use on breathwork courses around the world, or as a broad and valuable introduction to the subject for the general reader.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jim Morningstar

Section 1: The Importance of the Breath
The role of the breath
Natural breathing
Insufficient breathing
Breath rehabilitation
The quality of our breathing
Some consequences of incorrect breathing
Inner and outer breathing

Section 2: The Power of the Breath
The role of breathwork in China
The role of breathwork in India
The role of breathwork in Tibet
Modern breathing techniques
The Rebirthing technique
The consequences of the birth process
Holotropic breathwork
Transpersonal experiences

Section 3: Healing and the Breath
The respiratory system
Restricted breathing
The role of the brain in the breathing process
The healing potential of the breath
Health care or sick care -- the western worldview
Traditional eastern medicine
Eastern theories on healing
Modern western medical care
Breathwork and modern psychology
Brain development and 'psychological problems'

Section 4: The Future of the Breath
Breathwork and politics
Breathwork and the environment
Breathwork and education
Breathwork and peace efforts
Breathwork and drug abuse
'Sacred contracts'
Breathwork and New Age


'A fascinating book which provides an overview of breathwork as a possible alternative to conventional health care. Excellent reading.'
-- Yoga Scotland

'The first book that gives such comprehensive information about breathwork in all its aspects, in particular as a healing tool. It is a scholarly work, worthy of careful reading, and ideal for students of breathwork, professional therapists and others wanting to learn more about this therapeutic tool, and how and why it is effective.'
-- Vivienne Silver-Leigh, Breathe magazine

'A resourceful book that gives an overview of the impact breathwork can have in all areas of our lives. Insightful information.'
-- Teresa Leong, Light magazine

'Gunnel Minett's beautiful new book takes us into territory not explored yet in other breathwork books. There is much here, meticulously researched, that could be very useful to Holotropic Breathwork facilitators, as well as teachers. The quotes, the historical tidbits, and the amount of data, in all the areas she discusses, could be especially helpful in presenting Holotropic Breathwork to groups. Exhale is beautifully formatted. The lovely breathwork quotes are added throughout, and there are shaded boxes with exercises to try on your own.'
-- Kylea Taylor, Inner Door

'Very informative for a newcomer in the field. I can recommend this book to anyone who is about to start a breathwork process or who is already in it and wants to deepen their understanding. I can also recommend it to experienced psychotherapists who want to broaden their repertoire into the body and breath area.'
-- Dr Bo Ahrenfelt, Scientific & Medical Network Review

'An excellent, well-referenced discussion of an enormous range of information about breathing as a therapeutic intervention. Highly recommended.'
-- Dan Benor, International Journal of Healing and Caring

'An interesting overview of the use of breath traditionally in disciplines such as Yoga and Tai Chi. Minett argues that the gap between ancient knowledge, religion and science is gradually closing, with mystical explanations increasingly becoming scientifically viable. An interesting read.'
-- Yoga and Health

'If you are into breathing training, there's a small number of good books and a plethora of bad and quirky books available on the topic. This book, Exhale, stands head and shoulders above the best. It is the single most thorough and comprehensive non-medical book on breathing that I have ever seen. I thought that I knew something about the history and background of breathing theory, practice, methods and training until I read this book. Now I do! No one has a right to claim expertise in breathing who has not read this book. It is required reading for everyone in our field(s).'
--Robert Fried, author of The Psychology and physiology of breathing in behavioral medicine

'A most valuable resource ... one of the most comprehensive overviews of the development of breathwork in the modern world. It will be very helpful as a text in the schools of breathwork as well as an introduction to this rapidly growing profession for the general public.'
-- Jim Morningstar, coordinator of the International Breathwork Training Alliance

'I have been a trainer of breathwork practitioners for more than 18 years, and I would use this book in my courses.'
-- Michael Adamedes

'Crystalises a lot of crucial information that I can use during my training courses in leadership and stress management for the corporate world.'
-- Danielle de Wilde, business consultant

'The factual approach taken, and the fact that it encompasses new research, means that this book will be referred to for many years to come.'
-- Paul Reeve, professional breathworker

'Exhale is a book I can recommend to my clients and students alike. No more mystery -- here are the facts.'
-- Bronwyn Barter, professional breathworker

'This will be a valuable asset for the students in my three-year training programme, and will be of great value for breathworkers around the world, as well as for other psychotherapists.'
-- Tilke Platteel-Deur, President, International Breathwork Foundation

'The study of breathwork is moving faster than the material available. Gunnel Minnett has been instrumental in the rise of breathwork over the past two decades, and I would have no hesitation in Exhale heading my trainees' reading list around the world.'
-- David Parker, global breathwork trainer

'An intelligent and very readable examination of one of the most powerful personal growth techniques available to us.'
-- Catherine Dowling, professional breathworker

'A five star book. The author's extensive experiential wisdom, careful scholarship and clear, engaging writing style take us into new territory not travelled in other breathwork books.'
-- Kylea Taylor, editor, Inner Door


Gunnel Minett is a psychologist and renowned breathworker. She was the General Secretary of the International Breathwork Foundation for five years. Her book Breath and Spirit (1994) was translated into several languages. She lives in Cambridge, UK.

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