Wellness

The Best Books and Apps for Breathwork—and Understanding the Mind-Body Connection

The Best Books and Apps for Breathwork—and Understanding the Mind-Body Connection

Whether you’re just starting to dabble in the wonders of breathwork, are interested in learning about the foundational aspects of mindfulness, or want to know more about the Wim Hof Method: There’s an app for that. And a handful of compelling books that may change your perspective along the way, too.

They’re also topics we explored on our Netflix show, The goop Lab: You can read more about the research behind the episode here.

Books

  • <em>Full Catastrophe Living</em> by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD

    Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD

    In his magnum opus, Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts, introduces the world to mindfulness-based stress reduction. The MBSR program combines the power of yoga, meditation, body awareness, stress reduction, and mindfulness techniques to create a new paradigm of health that combats stress, pain, and chronic illness. His book holds something for everyone: a way to tune in to your body and appreciate the present moment.

  • <em>The Healing Self</em> by Deepak Chopra, MD, and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD

    The Healing Self by Deepak Chopra, MD, and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD

    Detailing the numerous ways our mind is interconnected with our body, health, and susceptibility to disease, Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi offer a new path toward healing ourselves from the inside out, one that’s rooted in mindfulness and love. For those who appreciate the interplay between spirituality and science, this book is for you.

  • <em>How to Breathe</em> by Ashley Neese

    How to Breathe by Ashley Neese

    Breathwork teacher Ashley Neese guides readers through the foundational aspects of breath, its many benefits (reducing stress and anxiety and releasing trauma, to name a few), and how to create a consistent breathwork practice at home. She shares twenty-five simple breathwork practices with step-by-step instructions so that you can learn how to breathe your way out of negative emotions to find joy and get grounded—or whatever your intention may be.

  • <em>Just Breathe</em> by Dan Brulé

    Just Breathe by Dan Brulé

    Dan Brulé has traveled around the world learning breathwork from yogi masters, academics, and Zen Buddhists. In Just Breathe, he shares breathing techniques and meditations that awaken the mind and spirit, expertly weaving research with spiritual wisdom. It’s an approachable guide that gives you the tools to unlock potential benefits of conscious breathing.

  • <em>What Doesn’t Kill Us</em> by Scott Carney

    What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney

    Journalist Scott Carney investigates how the comforts of modern age are making us weaker, arguing that we must push ourselves further into discomfort in order to regain the evolutionary edge our ancestors had. Pulling from research on cold exposure and brown fat as well as recounting the brutal training exercises of athletes and military personnel, this book explores the extraordinary limits of the human body. (No spoilers here, but at the end he even sets out to climb Everest with Wim Hof himself.)

  • <em>Endure</em> by Alex Hutchinson

    Endure by Alex Hutchinson

    Former Canadian national team distance runner Alex Hutchinson explores the limits of the human condition, using fascinating research on psychology and physiology to describe how people have endured extreme conditions: intense pain, muscle fatigue, lack of oxygen and fuel, overwhelming heat and thirst. Through the stories of athletes who have achieved the unthinkable—overriding their instincts and the desire to quit—Hutchinson raises compelling questions about the power of the mind over the body.

Apps

  • WHM (full access requires additional purchases)

    WHM (full access requires additional purchases)

    If you’re as fascinated as we are by Wim Hof and want to dive deeper into the Wim Hof Method, start with the WHM app. Designed to reinforce a consistent practice, the app introduces users to his breath technique and cold-exposure exercises with a stopwatch and calendar to log your results and progress over time. You can also link up your smartwatch to track your heart rate or go deeper into his guided mini course or ten-week learning program.

  • Waking Up (full access requires a subscription)

    Waking Up (full access requires a subscription)

    There are a lot of meditation apps out there. Many are just glorified stopwatches or a wispy voice reminding you to inhale and exhale. Or they treat meditation like something to check off your to-do list. Then there’s the Waking Up app, developed by neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris. It’s rooted in mindfulness theory and self-discovery with lessons about the why, when, how, and where of meditation and personal inquiry. You can begin with the introductory course of fifty meditations led by Harris himself, listen to his many lessons about theory, or join a meditation group for accountability. (And yes, there’s also a timer feature.)

  • Meditation Time (free)

    Meditation Time (free)

    The truth is: You don’t need anything to meditate. But setting a timer can be useful if you’re on a schedule. If you’re truly just looking for an unfancy meditation timer—something that’s a step above your phone’s stopwatch—the Meditation Time app has what you need. Choose from a variety of sounds, like Tibetan bowls, bells, or gongs, to gently alert you when your meditation has ended. There’s also an option to choose intervals to break up your meditation, so that maybe you start with a body scan before moving on to focus on your breath, belly, or the sounds around you.

  • Breathwrk (free)

    Breathwrk (free)

    For an intro to breathwork or a way to wind down before bed, relax before an important meeting, or just de-stress, Breathwrk offers simple exercises that can help. You choose the type of exercise and the length (say, a five-minute breath exercise for sleep), then the app guides you through timed inhales, exhales, and breath holds. You can also set reminders for morning and night. And if you’re trying to stick to a daily breathwork resolution, it keeps track of your streak, too.

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