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 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Breathing

When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace. ~Author unknown

Most adults breathe too often but do not breathe enough. ~Emily M. Bishop, "The Breath of Life," c.1892

Just breathing in can make you very happy. Allow yourself to be happy while breathing in. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, Breathe! You Are Alive: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, 1996,

What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door, which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. ~Shunryu Suzuki

When the Breath wanders, the Mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still. ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

A healthy mind has an easy breath. ~Author unknown

He began to breathe deep, drinking the air as drunkards drink their wine... ~Guy de Maupassant (1850–1893), "Moonlight," translated by Jonathan Sturges

If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance. ~Andrea Boydston, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 2000

For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. ~Sanskrit proverb

Right breathing makes for long living. ~H. Addington Bruce, Nerve Control and How to Gain It, 1918

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. ~Krishnamacharya

When you are depressed and life is a snarl, then is the time to QUIT THINKING and just go out and breathe and breathe. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

The most powerful tool for healing lies within you — your breath. ~Deborah Davis, Women's Qigong for Health & Longevity: A Practical Guide for Women Forty and Older, 2008,

Deep breathing is the greatest cure for all physical ailments. ~Edward Lankow (1883–1940)

Our breathing should be pleasant and joyful. If you are ever unsure about what to do, go back and enjoy your breathing. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, "Enjoying Our Breathing," 1998, published in The Path of Emancipation, 2000,

Breathe and you know that you are alive. ~Annabel Laity

Ancestral Teacher Qiu said, "If the breathing is at all unsettled, life is not your own." ~"Heaven and Earth," circa Ming dynasty work Anthology on the Cultivation of Realization by unknown author, translated by Thomas Cleary in Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body, 2000

The nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating. ~Proverb

To one who has been long in city pent,
'T is very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven,—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament...
~John Keats (1795–1821)  ["Breathing prayer" phrases go back at least to 1772 and the concept centuries prior to that. —tg]

We live most life, whoever breathes most air
And counts his dying years by sun and sea.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "Love," 1844

Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation, translated by Mobi Ho, 1987,

Focusing on the act of breathing clears the mind of all daily distractions and clears our energy enabling us to better connect with the spirit within. ~Author unknown

Breathing in, my in-breath has become deep. Breathing out, my out-breath has become slow. Breathing in, I feel calm. Breathing out, I feel at ease. Breathing in, I smile. Breathing out, I release all my worries and anxieties. Breathing in, I dwell deeply in the present moment. Breathing out, I know this is a wonderful moment. Smile... There are more than three hundred muscles in our face, and when we know how to breathe in and smile, these muscles can relax. This is "mouth yoga." ~Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Noble Eightfold Path: Right Mindfulness," The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation, 1998,  [a little altered —tg]

As the fire blazes brightly when the covering of ash over it is scattered by the wind, the divine fire within the body shines in all its majesty when the ashes of desire are scattered by the practice of pranayama. Prana in the body of the individual is part of the cosmic energy. In pranayama an attempt is made to harmonise the individual breath with the cosmic breath. ~B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala, 2001

You know that our breathing is the inhaling and exhaling of air. The organ which serves for this is the lungs which lie round the heart. Thus breathing is a natural way to the heart. And so, having collected your mind within you, lead it into the channel of breathing through which air reaches the heart and, together with this inhaled air, force your mind to descend into the heart and to remain there... Accustom it, brother, not to come out of the heart too soon, for at first it feels very lonely in that inner seclusion and imprisonment... But when it gets accustomed to it... the mind when it unites with the heart is filled with unspeakable joy and delight. ~Saint Nikephoros the Monk, in The Philokalia, as quoted by Vandana Mataji, 1984

The staff of life is not bread — it is breath. For you can live days without drink, and weeks without food. But you can only live a few minutes without air. ~Corrective Eating Society, Inc., The New Science of Controlled Breathing: The Secret of Strength, Energy, and Beauty — Through Breath Control, 1922

Nose breathing is the first principle of right breathing. Mouth breathing is inadequate to the needs of the human organism. ~H. Addington Bruce, Nerve Control and How to Gain It, 1918

Freedom is strangely ephemeral. It is something like breathing; one only becomes acutely aware of its importance when one is choking. ~William E. Simon

[S]he had been... doing the exercises she had promised Grandma to do, so she wouldn't get the lung fever like her mammy did... rising on her toes, lifting her hands till they met overhead, pointing to the pale-blue sky, then bringing them down slowly, letting out the long breath. Ten times, breathing deep of the morning air, filling herself with refreshment while the first sun shone on the far green willows and spread itself on the water... ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, Tammy Out of Time, 1958

When I stopped to pay attention to where my breathing was deep and settled, the truth began to emerge from the mist. ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,

The practice is simply this: keep coming back to your breath during the day. Just take a moment. This will give your mind a steadiness and your breath a gracefulness.... There's so much to let go of, isn't there? Your nostalgia and your regrets. Your fantasies and your fears. What you think you want instead of what is happening right now. Breathe. ~Rodney Yee, Yoga: The Poetry of the Body, 2002

Air is the substance on which principally we feed. What we eat is of secondary importance. The purity of the blood and the strength of the arteries through which it throbs depend absolutely upon right breathing. The greater the quantity of air taken into the lungs, the more oxygen for the purification of the blood — the constant and prime requirement for health. ~Edward Lankow, The New Science of Controlled Breathing: The Secret of Strength, Energy, and Beauty — Through Breath Control, 1922

Breathe and you dwell in the here and now. ~Annabel Laity

When you feel cast down, despondent, fearful, paralyzed, go out doors and breathe. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

I am in health, I breathe... ~William Shakespeare, Richard II, c.1595  [II, 1, King Richard II]

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? ~Mary Oliver, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches," West Wind, 1997,

Happiness breathes when you do. ~Terri Guillemets

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village Chanting Book, 1991,

Special exercises for the lungs, that is, conscious deep breathing exercises for a specific period of time, will give results which few realize. It is all so simple that most of us cannot believe it, like all truths. ~Edward Lankow, The New Science of Controlled Breathing: The Secret of Strength, Energy, and Beauty — Through Breath Control, 1922

Breath is Spirit. The act of breathing is Living. ~Author unknown

Breathing is the greatest pleasure in life. ~Giovanni Papini (1881–1956)

Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I relax my whole body. Breathing in, I calm my whole body. Breathing out, I love my body. Breathing in, I smile to my whole body. Breathing out, I release the tension in my body. Breathing in, I feel joyful. Breathing out, I feel stable. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice, 2003, adapted from the wonderful guided meditation exercises in The Blooming of a Lotus, 1993,  [a little altered —tg]

Learn how to exhale... Learn how to release the abdominal muscles in a wave-like motion and the inhale will take care of itself. ~Carla Melucci Ardito

The soul lives there in the silent breath. ~Rumi, interpreted by Coleman Barks

Breathing is the easiest thing in the world to do; therefore you can do it when you are too depressed and paralyzed to do anything else; you can breathe fully until you gain power to do something else. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

Don't let your throat tighten
with fear. Take sips of breath
all day and night...
~Rumi, interpreted by Coleman Barks

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. ~Oprah Winfrey, 2002

We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. By our breathing we are attuned to our atmosphere. If we inhibit our breathing we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In all Oriental and mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss. ~Alexander Lowen

The best cough syrup ever prescribed for weak lungs is a ten minutes practice of deep breathing. ~George L. Beardsley, "The Rational Treatment of Consumption," 1896

I love to breathe. Oxygen is sexy! ~Kris Carr, 2011

No matter what we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how skinny or young or wise we are — none of it will matter unless we're breathing correctly. ~James Nestor, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, 2020,

The wisest one-word sentence? Breathe. ~Terri Guillemets

There are around 7.6 billion people in the world, and, remarkably, even though we share the same air, we all breathe in a completely unique way — the pace, rhythm and flow of our breath is as distinctive as our thumbprint. ~Aimee Hartley, Breathe Well, 2020,

Great success in singing is impossible to the vocalist who does not thoroughly understand breathing... As I have often said, a beautiful voice is only the basis of vocal progress, in the perfection of which correct breathing is the greatest technical essential. ~Nellie Melba, "The Science of Singing," 1908

Breathing is a means of awakening and maintaining full attention in order to look carefully, long, and deeply, see the nature of all things, and arrive at liberation. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, Breathe! You Are Alive: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, 1996,

Learn to use your chest and diaphragm all sorts of ways. But aim for the full, even, rhythmic breath, up, out and down, as the habit-breath. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

Walking through the house at night is wonderful to me; a symphony of breath, each person a separate instrument as they collectively breathe in time to the metronome of life itself. ~Edwin Leap, M.D.,

Pranayama is... the science of breath. It is the hub around which the wheel of life revolves. ~B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala, 2001

The yogi's life is not measured by the number of his days, but by the number of his breaths. ~B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala, 2001

If you would foster a calm spirit, first regulate your breathing; for when that is under control, the heart will be at peace; but when breathing is spasmodic, then it will be troubled. ~Kariba Ekken, 17th century mystic, as quoted by B.K.S. Iyengar

One should cultivate the habit of full breathing, through the nostrils, at all times. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

Nature has provided that all great things should be essentially simple. It is thus with the process of breathing, which is the chief vital functioning of the body... [S]o far as possible, all inhalation of air should be through the nose... If there is a tendency to breathe through the mouth, this will be manifested most decidedly at night, when you are asleep, and the muscles are relaxed... If you find that you are in the habit of sleeping with the mouth open — awakening in the morning with a dry, harsh throat, it might be well to adopt the device which Dr. William H. Fitzgerald introduced to the medical profession almost 20 years ago. This consists merely in applying a small piece of surgeon's adhesive plaster over the closed lips, keeping them closed during all the hours of the night. ~Edward Lankow, The New Science of Controlled Breathing: The Secret of Strength, Energy, and Beauty — Through Breath Control, 1922

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, 1963  [The edition I first read in high school of Plath's classic novel was printed as "listened to the old bray of my heart" and periods instead of commas between each "I am," but I've since learned that most scholars assert the wording to be "brag" and is also what you will find in most other editions, so I've updated the quotation accordingly. —tg]

Breathe... Let the air become you, and then leave you. Forgive each breath because, although it abandons you every single time, it also brings you life. A man who cannot forgive the air has no chance of living. ~Edmond Manning, King Perry, 2016  [Dear reader: A little note of caution before quoting this yourself — it is from a sex scene. —tg]

What can we do
but keep on breathing in and out,
modest and willing, and in our places?...
~Mary Oliver, "Stars," West Wind, 1997,

Our breathing is designed to help us release any tensions that have become so much a part of us that we no longer sense their presence. ~Carla Melucci Ardito

There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there's another way: a love-breath that takes you all the way to infinity. ~Rumi, translator unknown

Full breathing lets in power. It permits an influx of power to every part of the body. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

[W]ho will tell whether one happy moment of love, or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies? ~Erich Fromm, 1955

With life as short as a half-taken breath,
do not plant anything but love.
~Rumi, interpreted by Coleman Barks

He who only half breathes, only half lives. ~Sanskrit proverb

Breathe open fields of calm and content.
Don't clang your lungs against your burdens.
A constricted life needn't constrict your breath.
~Terri Guillemets

Equally as important as right thinking is right breathing. Your lungs take in from the air not only oxygen... but wisdom, love and vital and mental power. The shallow breather robs himself literally of health, happiness and success. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

...fill your paper with the breathings of your heart... ~William Wordsworth, 1812

What art offers is space — a certain breathing room for the spirit. ~John Updike, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1984

Angels are all around us, all the time, in the very air we breathe. ~Eileen Elias Freeman, The Angels' Little Instruction Book, 1994

Right breathing is the art of all arts. ~Author unknown

Breathe for dear life and health. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

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published 2006 Jul 15
revised 2021 Jan 23
last saved 2022 Oct 8