Healthypedia
Lillian Wilson

The Breathwork Companion by Margaret Townsend

With this book, you will gain a complete guide to harnessing the healing and transformative power of breathing.

The Breathwork Companion

The book has gotten 4.17 ⭐️ on GoodReads.

The remarkable power of breath has been recognised for centuries. Breathing, an innate and often overlooked process, possesses the incredible ability to reset, heal, and transform our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual states. From its profound impact on stress reduction to its role in enhancing mindfulness and emotional balance, the act of breathing carries within it the potential to revolutionise our overall health and quality of life.

In this review, we will delve into a book ‘The Breathwork Companion’ by Margaret Townsend, which delves deep into the therapeutic art of breathwork, exploring its potential to reset and heal our being.

Author’s background

Since 1993, Margaret Townsend has actively engaged as a breathwork facilitator, offering both individual and group sessions focused on breathwork. Alongside this role, she holds certifications in Hakomi mindful somatic psychotherapy and mindful self-compassion and possesses training in qigong and nonviolent communication. Her diverse background spans dance, yoga, fitness, and a consistent thirty-year meditation practice. Townsend is associated with the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance and earned her breathwork certification from Judith Kravitz, the creator of the Transformational Breath Foundation.

What is the book about?

In ‘The Breathwork Companion,’ Margaret Townsend, drawing on her 30 years of experience as a breathwork facilitator, provides readers with a comprehensive program of exercises, anecdotes, prompts, and insights to develop and sustain a transformative breath practice.

Townsend guides readers through a range of breathing exercises and mindfulness meditations that serve different purposes. The book covers techniques to wake the body up in the morning, calm it down at night, and establish a strong mind-body connection to bolster the immune system and reduce inflammation. Additionally, the author addresses specific emotions like anger, fear, anxiety, and sadness, offering practices to alleviate these feelings. The importance of self-compassion and emotional balance is emphasised throughout the book.

Townsend delves into the science behind breath and its effects on the body as well as provides real-life success stories from her clients who have turned to breathwork to manage anxiety and health challenges. These features highlight the healing potential of breathwork and inspire hope for readers facing their own difficulties.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • PART I: BECOMING AWARE
  • 1. Getting Familiar with the Breath The Bridge from Unconscious to Conscious
  • 2. Connecting Body. Brain, and Breath An Integrated Intelligence
  • 3. Recognizing the Patterns Why We Breathe the Way We Do
More…
  • PART Il: OPENING UP
  • 4. Being Kind to Yourself Breathing as an Act of Self-Compassion
  • 5. Moving with the Breath Shaking, Swinging, Walking, Tapping
  • PART Ill: BRINGING THE BREATH TO LIFE
  • 6. Relying On the Breath Lifelong Tools to Carry You
  • 7. Breathing in Partnership The Shared Experience of Breath
  • 8. Building Your Breathwork Routine Maintaining Your New Normal
  • Afterword
  • Resources
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

Three key takeaways from ‘The Breathwork Companion’

1Breathing patterns are a bridge between our conscious and unconscious states

The book delves into the intricate relationship between breath patterns and our holistic well-being, spanning the realms of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Townsend highlights how our breathing style is a reflection of our internal state, offering insights into our emotions, thoughts, and overall vitality. Breath patterns are revealed as a bridge between the tangible and intangible aspects of our existence, as they shift unconsciously with our emotions, nervous system responses, and psychological states. By becoming attuned to our breath’s rhythms, we gain a deeper understanding of our inner world, paving the way for self-awareness and self-regulation. This connection highlights the vital role of conscious breathing in maintaining harmony across the various dimensions of our being.

2Why does provincial breathing occur? And how to repattern your breathing

Our need for safety and comfort leads us to tighten and contract our bodies, which often causes us to hold our breath unconsciously. Over time, this creates patterns of restricted breathing that affect our posture and emotions. Physical tensions, emotions like stress and fear, and even our thoughts can make our breath shallow and constricted. But the good news is, we can change these patterns. By recognising them and practising new ways of breathing, we can transform our breath and feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is like teaching our bodies a new, healthier rhythm. This process, known as ‘repatterning,’ helps us let go of stress and old habits. By observing how others breathe, we can even learn about their emotions and experiences. Through simple awareness and practice, we can free ourselves from these patterns and breathe more naturally, bringing positive changes to our well-being.

3‘Breathing as an act of self-compassion’

Townsend states that breathing is an act of self-compassion. By consciously taking a breath, we embrace self-kindness and openness, offering ourselves love and acceptance. This compassionate approach resonates with the heart, bridging self-acceptance and compassion for others. The profound synergy of mindful breathing and self-compassion forms the foundation of self-care, a skill we can rely on throughout our lives. Open breathing fosters a receptive environment for self-compassion, while self-criticism tightens both our body and our breath.

Personal experiences, like childhood emotional challenges, can shape our need for self-compassion. By acknowledging our patterns and practising breathwork with self-compassion, we can release stress and support ourselves through challenges. Self-compassion is the act of being present with discomfort, using breath as a tool of care. This practice aligns with Dr. Kristin Neff’s research, cited in the book, which defines self-compassion with mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness. The combination of these elements with breathwork nurtures a compassionate response to ourselves and others, offering relief and support in times of pain and struggle. Breathing mindfully, especially in challenging moments, is an expression of self-compassion – a gift we can always give ourselves.

Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews

Strengths

  • Townsend’s wealth of knowledge and insights, drawn from her extensive facilitator experience, shines through, providing readers with a valuable resource backed by expertise.

  • The breathing practices shared in the book are easy to follow, making it simple for readers to incorporate these exercises into their daily routines.

  • The book is enriched with heartwarming stories that resonate with readers, creating an engaging and relatable reading experience.

  • The book has an approachable writing style.

Weaknesses

  • Readers seeking detailed explanations of the physiology of breath and its connections to various health conditions might find the book lacking in depth in these areas.

Best quotes from ‘The Breathwork Companion’

“What’s more, when the breath is open, we are more open to receiving self-compassion and knowing that we are taking it in as we breathe. By contrast, when we believe our own judgments and self-criticism, we are disconnected from our heart’s access to acceptance and love and our body and breath tighten.”
“Being kind and compassionate toward ourselves softens and opens our breath and body.”
“Giving your body and breath to gravity is a great awareness practice. We spend so much time “doing” in our lives that we can easily forget how to “not do.” Awareness practices can help us undo this habit so we can feel what it’s like to just be. Giving your body to gravity means letting go without trying to let go. Giving your breath to gravity means giving in to the downward out flow of the air and letting your muscles soften with it.”

Final takeaway

‘The Breathwork Companion’ by Margaret Townsend offers a transformative journey into conscious breathing, drawing on the author’s extensive facilitator experience. The book highlights how breathing patterns connect with our holistic well-being and emphasises self-compassion as a core aspect of breathwork. While the book excels in practical guidance and spiritual exploration, readers seeking a deeper dive into breath physiology and medical connections may find it less detailed.

Overall, it is an excellent read for individuals interested in exploring conscious breathing practices to improve their health and wellness.

Where to buy

You may purchase ‘The Breathwork Companion’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback, audio and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.


Healthypedia FAQ

Not at all. This book is designed for everyone, regardless of their familiarity with breathwork or yoga. It offers accessible techniques and insights that anyone with lungs can engage with.

No, the book offers easy-to-follow breathing exercises suitable for beginners and experienced individuals alike. The practices are designed to seamlessly integrate into your daily routine.

With over 30 years of experience as a breathwork facilitator, the author’s background and certifications lend credibility to the book's content. The book covers various aspects of breathwork, including its scientific foundations, personal stories, and practical exercises, utilising a well-researched approach.

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