Quotations on Breathing

Breathing as it relates to Life

"Regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind."

– B.K.S. Iyengar


"Without full awareness of breathing, there can be no development of meditative stability and understanding."

– Thich Nhat Hanh


"Prana, the vital breath, is born of Self. Like a person and his shadow, the Self and the Prana are inseparable. Prana enters the body at birth, but does not die with the body."

– Prana Upanisad


"Blessed are they who are intimate with their Breath, for they shall receive the
‘I Can’ of the Universe."

– The Beatitudes
(as translated directly from the Bible in Aramaic)


"What keeps us alive is not as bright as the ruby throat of a hummingbird, nor as present as the scent of honeysuckle at dusk; it is not as heavy as a praying mantis, nor as pungent as warm strawberries eaten in the field, not as loud as snow falling, yet we inhale, and keep on inhaling and exhaling every living moment, chest rising and falling like the ocean, always the invisible, weightless breath in us and around us; walking, praying, climbing, driving, loving, painting, spending breathing, breathing, breathing, everything and nothing until we let go at last."

– Marcia Nehemiah


"For breath is life, so if you breathe well you will live long on earth."

– Sanskrit Proverb


"The solar breath leads to transcendence; the lunar breath is a form-giving substance. Their union evokes the Eternal."

– Prana Upanisad


"Breathing affects your respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular, and psychic systems, and also has a general affect on your sleep, memory, ability to concentrate, and your energy levels."

– Donna Farhi
The Breathing Book


"The oracle of breath unfolds its secrets to those who know the keys.
The elements in breath are known as fire, water, earth, air and ether."

– Swara Chinthamani


"The wise speak not of senses of speech, sight, hearing, feeling, but only
of a group of Pranas, for these are all the manifestations of Prana."

– Charakha Samhita


"Calm the mind, avoid worrying about worldly cares, and zhèngqì (vital energy) will be able to travel smoothly along the channels; concentrate your thoughts, and the body will not be invaded by diseases..."

– Plain Questions of Internal Canon of Medicine


"The softest of stuff in the world, penetrates quickly the hardest, insubstantial, it enters where there is no room..."

– Lao Tsu


"In breathing, one must proceed as follows: One holds the breath and it is collected together. If it is collected, it expands. When it expands it goes down. When it goes down it becomes quiet. When it becomes quiet it will solidify. When it becomes solidified it will begin to sprout. After it has sprouted, it will grow. As it grows it will be pulled back again, to the upper regions of the body. When it has been pulled back, it will reach the crown of the head. Above, it will press against the crown of the head."

– 6th Century B.C.
inscription on twelve pieces of jade


"As for the proper inner breath, it is called the Embryonic Breath. Since it is naturally inside you, you do not have to seek outside for it."

– Master Great Nothing of Sung-Shan
in the famous Taoist Canon on Breathing


"Many healings of other physical troubles have occurred in my clients after they started to integrate breathing practices into their lives. There is a simple but encompassing reason that may explain this. The human body is designed to discharge 70% of its toxins through breathing. Only a small percentage of toxins are discharged through sweat, defecation and urination. If your breathing is not operating at peak efficiency, you are not ridding yourself of toxins properly."

– Gay Hendricks, PhD
Conscious Breathing, Pg. 17.


"Only those who know how to breathe will survive."

– Pundit Acharya


"When the breath is unsteady, all is unsteady; when the breath is still; all is still. Control the breath carefully. Inhalation gives strength and a controlled body; retention gives steadiness of mind and longevity; exhalation purifies body and spirit."

– Goraksasathakam


"Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is the only moment."

– Thich Nhat Hanh


"There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then there’s another way; a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity."

– Rumi


"Looking, Walking, Being, I look and look. Looking’s a way of being: one becomes, sometimes, a pair of eyes walking. Walking wherever looking takes one. The eyes dig and burrow into the world. They touch, fanfare, howl, madrigal, clamor. World and the past of it, not only visible present, solid and shadow that looks at one looking. And language? Rhythms of echo and interruption? That’s a way of breathing. breathing to sustain looking, walking and looking, through the world, in it."

– Denise Levertov


"Breath is life. We should pay as much attention to it as any other aspect of beingness."

– Swami Nostradamus Virato


Breathing as it relates to Health

"All chronic pain, suffering, and diseases are caused by a lack of oxygen at the cell level."

– Dr. Arthur C. Guyton, MD
The Textbook on Medical Physiology


"Breathing is the key that unlocks the whole catalog of advanced biological function and development. Is it any wonder that it is so central to every aspect of health? Breathing is the first place, not the last, one should look when fatigue, disease, or other evidence of disordered energy presents itself. Breathing is truly the body’s most basic communication system."

– Sheldon Saul Hendler, MD, PhD
Oxygen Breakthrough, pg 96.


"Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health."

– Dr. Andrew Weil


"Oxidation is the source of life. Its lack causes impaired health or disease, its cessation, death."

– Dr. F.M. Eugene Blass, PhD
Oxygen Therapy: Its Foundation, Aim, Results


"Simply put, disease is due to a deficiency in the oxidization process of the body, leading to an accumulation of the toxins. These toxins would ordinarily be burned in normal metabolic functioning."

– Dr. Albert Wahl


"Oxygen plays a pivotal role in the functioning of the immune system."

– Dr. Parris M. Kidd, PhD
Antioxidant Adaption


"The stresses, strains, and traumas of ordinary daily existence in the process of working and living tend to inhibit our breathing ability."

– Leonard Orr
Breath Awareness for Public Schools and the Medical Profession


"In all serious disease states we find a concomitant low oxygen state… Low oxygen in the body tissues is a sure indicator for disease...Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in the tissues, is the fundamental cause for all degenerative disease. Oxygen is the source of life to all cells."

– Dr. Stephen Levine
Renowned Molecular Biologist and Geneticist;
Author, Oxygen Deficiency: A Concomitant to All Degenerative Illness


"Starved of oxygen the body will become ill, and if this persists it will die,
I doubt if there is an argument about that."

– Dr. John Muntz
Nutritional Scientist


"Insufficient oxygen means insufficient biological energy that can result in anything from mild fatigue to life-threatening disease. The link between insufficient oxygen and disease has now been firmly established."

– Dr. W. Spencer Way
from the Journal of the American Association of Physicians


"Cells undergoing partial oxygen starvation send out tiny panic signals which are collectively felt in the body as a continuous vague sensation of uneasiness, dread or disaster. This low level generalized warning tends to get tuned out as mere “background noise” by the individual experiencing it. Or, it is attributed to other sources of uneasiness.... People rarely suspect that the constant vague feelings of helplessness, fatigue....uneasiness are symptoms of cellular oxygen deprivation."

– From the Townsend Letter for Doctors


"Dr. Lataste in 1992, conducted a study with a team of scientists on health at high altitudes. They observed people who lived at high altitudes and found that there was a much higher incidence of drowsiness, apathy, delayed reaction time, and reduced motor capacity, as compared to those who lived in lower altitudes.

Many healings of other physical troubles have occurred in my clients after they started to integrate breathing practices into their lives. There is a simple but encompassing reason that may explain this. The human body is designed to discharge 70% of its toxins through breathing. Only a small percentage of toxins are discharged through sweat, defecation and urination. If your breathing is not operating at peak efficiency, you are not ridding yourself of toxins properly."

– Gay Hendricks, PhD
Conscious Breathing, Pg. 17.


"One of the most overlooked benefits of extra oxygen in the tissues is their ability to detoxify more efficiently."

– Dr. Kurt W. Donsbach, D.C., N.D.
Educator, Scientist, Author, Lecturer, Consultant; author of “Super Health”, “Oxygen-Oxygen-Oxygen”, and over 50 publications on the subject of heath and nutrition; Founder and Executive Director of Medicine at Hospital Santa Monica, Rosarita Beach, Baja California, the largest holistic hospital in the world; also serves as Medical Director of Institute Santa Monica, Kamien Pomorski, Poland, the sister establishment of Hospital Santa Monica.


"Illness is the result of improper removal of toxins from the body. Oxygen is the vital factor which assists the body in removing toxins."

– Ed McCabe
Oxygen Therapies, A New Way of Approaching Disease (1988)


Heart Disease

"Coronary heart disease is due to a lack of oxygen received by the heart."

– Dr. Dean Ornish
Heart Attack


"...healthy breathing should be the first thing taught to a heart patient. A Dutch Study conducted by a doctor named Dixhoorn, compared two groups of heart attack patients. The first group was taught simple diaphragmatic breathing, while the second group was given no training in breathing. The breathing group had no further heart attacks, while 7 of the 12 members of the second group had second heart attacks over the next 2 years."

– Gay Hendricks, PhD
Conscious Breathing, Pg. 16.


"A lack of oxygen (hypoxia) is the prime cause of 1.5 million heart attacks each year."

– Dr. Richard Lippman
renowned researcher


Lymphatic System

Jack Shields, MD, a lymphologist from Santa Barbara, CA, conducted a study on the effects of breathing on the lymphatic system. Using cameras inside the body, he found that deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulated the cleansing of the lymph system by creating a vacuum effect which sucked the lymph through the bloodstream. This increased the rate of toxic elimination by as much as 15 times the normal pace.

– J. Shields, MD
Lymph, Lymph Glands, and Homeostasis, 25 No. 4, Dec 92, Pg.147-153.



"One study on the treatment of asthma patients conducted by researchers John Goyeche, Dr. Ago, and Dr. Ikemi, suggests that any effective treatment should address suppressed emotions—such as anxiety and self-image—as well as the physical dimension. To achieve this, they encourage correction of poor posture, and helping the person relax the irrelevant respiratory muscles while restoring full diaphragmatic breathing. They also recommended finding ways for getting rid of excess mucus. The good news is that a well rounded breath practice will do all these things."

– Donna Farhi
The Breathing Book, Pg. 207.


"Much of what shows as asthma would more properly be called "Congested Tension", and is related to today's lifestyle that can make us feel as if we are constantly under attack. Anxiety and stress fires up the sympathetic nervous system (a system meant to be utilized for only minutes at a time) on a consistent, on-going basis. We over-respirate, which leads to breathing out too much carbon dioxide. This means that the hemoglobin that carries oxygen through the blood becomes "sticky" and does not release sufficient oxygen to the cells. Eventually, starved for oxygen, the body takes drastic measures to slow breathing so that the carbon dioxide can again rise to an appropriate level. These measures produce the classic symptoms of an asthma attack—muscles tighten around the airways and the body further constricts them by producing phlegm and histamines in an attempt to fight off the invader. Meanwhile, we are left gasping for breath. We need to remember how to breathe—that is, the way we breathed when we were children."

– David Wilson


Blood Pressure

"The relationship between breathing and blood pressure has been known and understood for a long time. It boils down to this: Elevated blood pressure accompanies those bodily states where rapid shallow breathing prevails. By altering breathing to a slow diaphragmatic mode, blood pressure decreases."

–Robert Fried, PhD



"The first discovery was made by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Otto Warburg, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Cell Physiology in Berlin. He confirmed that the key precondition for the development of cancer is a lack of oxygen at the cellular level."

– Nathaniel Altman
Oxygen Healing Therapies, Pg. 66.


"Lack of oxygen clearly plays a major role in causing cells to become cancerous."

– Dr. Harry Goldblatt
Journal of Experimental Medicine


"Cancer has only one prime cause. It is the replacement of normal oxygen respiration of the body’s cells by an anaerobic (ie., oxygen-deficient) cell respiration."

– Dr. Otto Warburg
Two-time Nobel Laureate, Winner of Nobel Prize for Cancer Research


"Cancer is a condition within the body where the oxidation has become so depleted that the body cells have degenerated beyond physiological control. Similarly, the true cause of allergy is lowered the oxidation process within the body, causing the affected individual to be sensitive to foreign substances entering the body. Only when the oxidation mechanism is restored to its original high state of efficiency can the sensitivity be eliminated."

– Dr. Wendell Hendricks
Hendricks Research Foundation Detoxification