Breathwork by Susan Oubari & Émilie Veyretout
Title of the book:
Breathwork: Respirez pour changer
Name of the author:
Susan Oubari and Émilie Veyretout
Susan Oubari is the pioneer of Breathwork in France. After a successful career in the fashion industry, she decided to dedicate herself to the discipline and her classes, both in person and online, have experienced great success.
Émilie Veyretout is a writer and journalist and was the editor of beauty and health at the newspaper Le Figaro for ten years. It was whilst writing an article for the paper that she tested a Breathwork class with Susan and had the idea to write this book.
What is the book about?
This book is an introduction to the practice of the Breathwork techniques first developed in the USA and now becoming more popular in Europe. Written during the first wave of the 2020 pandemic the authors goals were to offer a means for people suffering with the stress and uncertainty of confinement, to cope, come to terms with and continue to live a full life. Through 8 well thought out and accessible chapters Susan and Émilie gently guide you through the philosophy and practice of Breathwork. Each chapter is themed around topics that will have undoubtedly influenced your life either directly or indirectly. Susan begins each chapter by explaining the themes importance and how Breathwork can play a pivotal role, illustrating each point with stories from her own and others experiences. This is followed by a short exercise introducing a new Breathwork technique and a breakdown by Émilie who explores the science behind each theme. Each chapter finishes with a full Breathwork session that reflects upon the chapters theme and reinforces the techniques introduced during the exercise. The structure of each chapter is designed so that each can be read independently of the others allowing you to dip in and out of the book as you feel is appropriate and selecting the theme that is most relevant to you in that moment.
How I felt about the book:
Reading this book was definitely a journey. I am usually quite hesitant to pick up volumes in this genre as often the style of writing is not one that I am able to connect to. Yet sometimes we pick up a book and just know that it is one we want to read. The subject of an action that is so fundamental to our lives yet we frequently take for granted, combined with the beautiful illustrations, meant that ‘Breathwork’ went straight into my shopping basket and I am so glad it did! Just a few pages in I knew this was a book that I would be coming back to regularly long after I finished it. I had never practiced Breathwork before and I was curious to try a discipline that has had such an enormous impact across the Atlantic and already the techniques and practices have begun to influence my yoga for the better. As I progressed through each chapter I could feel myself becoming more and more aware of my breath, something I used have to make a conscious effort to do.
Much of the philosophy of Breathwork crosses over into other disciplines concerned with wellbeing and conscious living so there is a comforting sense of familiarity throughout the book. Even if this is your first venture into the world of mindfulness, what the discipline proposes is not new or radical but small, simple changes that day by day, week by week bring you closer to your ‘grand rêve’. The effect of the practice on the mind and body can be incredibly intense, at one point I had to take a break from reading to give myself the time I needed to work though the emotions and memories that the sessions had given rise to. When I did feel strong enough to carry on Susan’s honesty, warmth and acceptance of her experiences and anecdotes about how Breathwork has helped her own personal development, quickly dispelled the lingering shadows in my mind and the guided sessions changed from turbulent and tiring to peaceful and energising.
Each spiritual foray into the benefits of Breathwork is accompanied by Émilie’s ‘décryptage’, a light breakdown of what has been studied and understood by modern science, Breathwork’s place amongst historical holistic practices, interesting links to great thinkers and poets and a few tips to creating an environment that complements you and your practice. Although research has only begun in earnest in recent years into the measurable effects of ancient and new holistic practices that address the fundamentals of being, the scientist in me would have appreciated more references to published studies or a bibliography for further reading to accompany each chapter. However I do understand that creating a compendium of scientific research and list of statistics was not the overall purpose of the book, perhaps a second edition?
I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to explore personal development and possible paths to fulfilment. Even if you are already familiar with Breathwork or other similar disciplines this book puts forward the philosophy and practice in such an engaging and accessible way that it is bound to have a positive impact. I only wish that there was an English translation so I could give a copy to all my family and friends!
This is not a book to be read in one go, but one where each page should be savoured. A book where it is ok (even recommended!) to re-read the same sentence several times because you don’t quite remember what it said. A book that will live a long and useful life on any shelf.