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Let Every Breath… reveals the secrets of the Russian Breath Masters. This groundbreaking manual on Systema Breathing presents step-by-step training drills given to you in a thorough and comprehensive way. You will learn the unique methodology of Systema Breathing and get the foundation for every physical activity of your daily life. Whether you are looking to raise your at Let Every Breath… reveals the secrets of the Russian Breath Masters. This groundbreaking manual on Systema Breathing presents step-by-step training drills given to you in a thorough and comprehensive way. You will learn the unique methodology of Systema Breathing and get the foundation for every physical activity of your daily life. Whether you are looking to raise your athletic skills to the next level, or wish to increase your potential and to enjoy life, this is your tool to uncover the endless reserve of energy, health and happiness. At the same time, it is very easy reading, full of entertaining stories and thought provoking ideas.


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Let Every Breath… reveals the secrets of the Russian Breath Masters. This groundbreaking manual on Systema Breathing presents step-by-step training drills given to you in a thorough and comprehensive way. You will learn the unique methodology of Systema Breathing and get the foundation for every physical activity of your daily life. Whether you are looking to raise your at Let Every Breath… reveals the secrets of the Russian Breath Masters. This groundbreaking manual on Systema Breathing presents step-by-step training drills given to you in a thorough and comprehensive way. You will learn the unique methodology of Systema Breathing and get the foundation for every physical activity of your daily life. Whether you are looking to raise your athletic skills to the next level, or wish to increase your potential and to enjoy life, this is your tool to uncover the endless reserve of energy, health and happiness. At the same time, it is very easy reading, full of entertaining stories and thought provoking ideas.

30 review for Let Every Breath... Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    This book presents an introduction to breath exercises employed by the Russian martial art called Systema. Systema is one of a number of drill & spar-centric (as opposed to technique-centric) martial arts that have developed in modern times in an attempt to cast off the unrealistic and needlessly complicated elements that tend to grow within traditional martial arts (e.g. Krav Maga is a well-known exemplar of such a martial art.) Among the unique aspects of this system is its focus on, and appro This book presents an introduction to breath exercises employed by the Russian martial art called Systema. Systema is one of a number of drill & spar-centric (as opposed to technique-centric) martial arts that have developed in modern times in an attempt to cast off the unrealistic and needlessly complicated elements that tend to grow within traditional martial arts (e.g. Krav Maga is a well-known exemplar of such a martial art.) Among the unique aspects of this system is its focus on, and approach to, breath—and breath is crucial in the martial arts, in a fight, and in life. I had mixed feelings about this book. I’ll begin with positive aspects and then get into what I found off-putting. First, the book offers a clear explanation of principles and drills that are straight forward and will increase one’s awareness of breath. That is laudable. Are these particular principles and drills the end-all-be-all that will take one to heights that no other approach to breathing could (as the book suggests?) No. But is it a solid approach to breath that will yield benefits by making you more aware of breath while helping you to use it more effectively? Yes. Second, the book doesn’t have a lot of competitors in the “breathing for martial arts” space, and so it fits into a substantial void. (Note: the book doesn’t get into martial arts / self-defense drills or techniques, and doesn’t claim to.) Now, here’s the other half of the open-faced sh%# sandwich. You’ve likely already gotten a hint of my problem with the book. This will seem like a two-part criticism, but it condenses into one problem with the book’s attempt to sell the reader on Systema. The starting point, as another reviewer noted, is that this system isn’t as completely novel and unmatched as is presented. Is that a damning indictment? It wouldn’t be. Just because this approach shares concepts applied elsewhere and is constrained by the nature of the human body doesn’t mean that it can’t offer its own unique value-added. The problem is that we are told how unique and completely peerless this system is so often that it becomes a bad info-mercial. I get it. Systema is a product that has to compete in an intense market place with the likes of Krav Maga, MMA, Total Combat Systems, Defendu, and a ton of other self-protection oriented martial arts. It’s Pepsi, and it has to carve out a market share by convincing us of the unlikely fact that Coke products aren’t even in the same ballpark. The problem is that when it dismisses systems like yogic pranayama and Taoist chi gong, it does so in a way that shows virtually no understanding of those systems. When the author is telling us how the Systema approach to breath is superior to pranayama, he describes an asana (posture-oriented) class. If you’re going to convince us that the several thousand year old yogic tradition completely missed an approach to breath so groundbreaking that it will take one on an e-ticket ride to self-perfection, at least have some idea of the scope of what the yogis learned and how they present those lessons to their students. The second half of this rant is that there is a lot of hagiography to delve through before one gets to the meat of the subject. Now, in general, authors of martial arts books tend to pay homage to their teachers and lineage. It’s not unreasonable that there is some near-deification of teachers in this book. However, at some point it becomes hard to tell whether the book exists to inform readers or as a monument to someone’s ego. This book gets disconcertingly close to the line. (The arrogance issue is made worse by confusion about authorship. It’s said that Meredith wrote the book, but Vladimir Vasiliev takes the by-line. This creates an odd situation because the book tells us how Vasiliev is both an exceptional human being, and humble as well. You can see my problem. Without evidence to the contrary, I can easily accept that Vasiliev is exceptional. I can also believe that he is humble. But when a book with his name on it tells me both of these things, I’m forced by the dictates of logic to reject at least one of them [and doubt is cast upon both.]) If you are looking to expand your understanding and awareness of breath, you may want to give this book a try. I certainly wouldn’t endorse every claim it makes, but there are some interesting ideas presented.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I've been looking for a good book on breathing for awhile. But nothing ever caught my eye until I found this book in a very unlikely place. In the Peruvian jungle, in the last days of my ayahuasca retreat, the book was presented to me. The breathing work described here is way beyond of what I expected. Much more advanced than any "Yogic" breathing I was taught, yet incredibly simple. I can recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn how to use breath to be calm, relaxed, have more power, or I've been looking for a good book on breathing for awhile. But nothing ever caught my eye until I found this book in a very unlikely place. In the Peruvian jungle, in the last days of my ayahuasca retreat, the book was presented to me. The breathing work described here is way beyond of what I expected. Much more advanced than any "Yogic" breathing I was taught, yet incredibly simple. I can recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn how to use breath to be calm, relaxed, have more power, or let go of stress. I applied the techniques in strength and mobility training, yoga, business negotiations, playing guitar... Well really everywhere. It's like my secret weapon now.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nik

    Breathing is the foundation.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I bought this book at our school after class on Saturday. I finished reading it on Tuesday right before our next class. I knew the book would be helpful to my training, but I honestly did not even believe reading the book would make such a difference! But preconceptions do not matter; this book will help you even if you don't expect it to. One particular way it helped me is with the "no breathing" confidence exercises we do in Systema class. After doing 20 pushups with different inhale/exhale pa I bought this book at our school after class on Saturday. I finished reading it on Tuesday right before our next class. I knew the book would be helpful to my training, but I honestly did not even believe reading the book would make such a difference! But preconceptions do not matter; this book will help you even if you don't expect it to. One particular way it helped me is with the "no breathing" confidence exercises we do in Systema class. After doing 20 pushups with different inhale/exhale patterns, I was always "out of breath," a phrase to ponder, because how can I "run out" of something which is so plentiful and available? So I'd always struggle to do another 10 without breathing. And because I was "out of breath," not breathing while exerting myself further caused me to panic, even though I knew that panicking was only using up oxygen faster. My instructor and fellow students offered much advice: don't freak out, think of something else, look around the room, try not to dwell on lack of air. But it always ended up the same, I'd do two or three without breath, panic, and lay there panting while the rest of the class finished the set. It was only after reading Let Every Breath that I realized why this was happening and was able to correct my breathing so that I was not so winded. Of course, I still need lots of practice, particular with the leg lifts which are the hardest "no-breath" exercises for me. Sometimes I forget what was so crystal-clear immediately after finishing the book. But if I remember the principles described in Let Every Breath, I can get to 5 and occassionally or 7 or 10 without breath, which is a pretty dramatic improvement from just 2 or 3. As suggested, it's very helpful to reach what I think is my maximum and try for just one more; in this way, my confidence improves gradually. I'm describing the "no-breath" exercises because they are the biggest challenge for me. Two things in particular helped me approach these in a different way. First, for the inhale/exhale sets, I shifted my focus from movement to breathing. Instead of matching my breathing to movement, I tried it the other way around. And that is how I became aware of movement that extended beyond my breathing. The book describes a natural pause between inhale and exhale. But with the exertion of movement, my pause was a bit longer than natural. Even though I began my inhale or exhale before the movement, as described, I was still halting it between inhale and exhale so that my movement could "catch up" with my breath. Again, these were very tiny pauses, barely noticeable, but they do add up! And that is why I was so often "out of breath" at the end of the sets. By shifting my focus to breathing, movement connects to breathing naturally, rather than artificially, and I'm less likely to force myself to move when there is no breath to support it. If you are wondering why is so important to me, it's because I do consider it potentially life-saving knowledge. Recently I was watching a documentary program about accidents at sea and how people survive them. It's an extremely difficult survival situation because of hypothermia, which causes people to make irrational decisions and even worse, to lose the will to live. At the end of the program, they interviewed a survival expert who trained people to prepare for disasters at sea. He was asked, "What can an average person do to increase their chances of survival when lost at sea?" And he said, "Know your own capabilities. Can you swim? How long can you hold your breath? These things will give you the confidence to know that you can make it through extreme circumstances." Before reading Let Every Breath, if I had found myself in a situation where I could not breathe, I know for a fact that I would have panicked, felt despair, maybe even enough to give up! But now, I know that I can hold my breathe at least for a little while without panicking, it will certainly increase my chances of surviving such a situation. Another paragraph from the book which helped me quite a bit was the idea of breathing "through" the entire body during difficult conditioning exercises. I knew that it is helpful to visualize "breathing in" through the muscles that are under exertion, but the breath penetrates the entire body. Not just symbolically, it's a biological fact that every cell needs oxygen. If the muscles are stiff, tight, sore, tense, or otherwise restricted, it's harder to process the oxygen-rich blood and also to eliminate metabolic wastes. This is a difficult cycle; the tight muscles that would benefit most from increased blood flow actually get the least of it. Lack of oxygen and accumulation of wastes perpetuate and spread the problem to surrounding areas, and this can cause muscular pain as severe as joint and bone pain, and a lack of mobility so dramatic, many people resort to surgery. But I have to confess, I wasn't entirely convinced that visualizing breathing through the entire body would actually bring increased oxygen to restricted areas. But it does seem to help, I'm not sure how or why, but I definitely feel less restriction to those areas when I envision breathing "through" the entire body. In fact, sometimes I'm not aware of the restriction until I visualize the breathing permeating my entire body. One thing I'd like to work on further is the concept of independence of breath, because I think that I have too closely tied pain management or exertion with exhaling. Focussing on the exhale is a little bit easier and I think most beginners are taught to start with that. But now that I've been training for a few years, I think it would be beneficial to look more closely at my breathing and its correlation to certain activities in training like accepting strikes, yielding to joint locks, falls and rolls, and even just exertion. Actually, there are many more ideas to ponder in Let Every Breath, and I've found it to be an inspiration. In my day-to-day life, I can gauge the effectiveness of my breathing by my commute to work each weekday morning. When I get out of the subway, I'm about as far underground as anyone can be in Manhattan, and there are two platforms above me. So I have to climb two flights of stairs and ascend a very steep ramp to get out to the street. If I'm stuck in a big crowd, this can be a slow process. And it actually makes me a bit sad to see people who look young and fit heaving themselves up the stairs as if it's taking every last bit of energy to do so. Usually I take the stairs quickly, but if I'm sleepy or carrying heavy bags, it's always harder than if I'm well-rested and empty-handed. If I'm out of breath when I reach the street, then I know I have forgotten some of those basic principles! This book is a treasure. You don't have to be a martial artist or an athlete to benefit from reading it. If you breathe, it will help you! The principles of Russian breathing are so clearly described, with illustrations, exercises, and ideas to consider at every moment of the day. Just for starters: how often do you hold your breath? Holding the breath doesn't necessarily mean you are puffed up and blue in the face. As the author explains, pay close attention to your breathing as you perform simple tasks: lift a heavy package, thread a needle, catch a ball. Is your breathing truly continous? It's such a simple idea, and one that we take for granted: of course we don't stop our breathing, or else we'd die. Even though I have been training in Russian Martial Art, after reading Let Every Breath, I realized that I stop my breathing at certain times, especially when I'm suprised: when the train lurches suddenly, when I accidentally drop something I'm carrying, or stumble, or knock something off my desk. These small pauses, barely noticeable until I thought to check for them, might seem inconsequential, but breath is life, and when it's halted by fear or surprise or tension, it is contrary to our very survival, and it disconnects us from the natural harmony of the force of life. It's subtle, but so important, if you think of how long most people can go without breathing, 10 or 20 seconds, perhaps a bit more, then it becomes apparent why even the smallest change in breathing will affect the whole body, and overall quality of life. Quote: "Everyday that you live without proper breathing is another little step of submitting to stress and deterioration of your health." -Vladimir Vasiliev And that's why Let Every Breath is such an important book. It is not a book to change your lifestyle, get you to eat specific foods, follow any sort of schedule, or do anything by rote. The real gem of the book is simply the way it changes our perception of our own breathing, that which connects us to the greater universe around us. We look at a fish out of water, flopping around, and we know it is doomed. But somehow, we consider ourselves higher than those fish, as if they are imprisoned by their inability to survive without water. We even have an expression for those who are ill at ease: "like a fish out of water." But we are no different! Fish need water, we need air, no creature can survive without the life-giving force of the universe, and the best way to appreciate any gift is to accept it with humble gratitude, and use it wisely and well. Quote: "You breathe in when you're born and out when you die; in between is your life." -Mikhail Ryabko Many thanks to Scott and Vladimir for creating this book, and to Mikhail, without whom it would not be possible. It is truly a gift to the Systema community and to the world beyond.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anne Beardsley

    Let Every Breath gave me a lot to think about and at least eight years' worth of things to work on. Well worth reading. It's a good book. I found the worshipful admiration and gratitude for his teachers a little off-putting … but I do appreciate the humility and gratitude that makes someone want to share how amazing someone else is. However, when I recommend it to others – and I will – I will probably suggest they begin in chapter 3, where the breath teaching starts. The Russian Orthodox flavo Let Every Breath gave me a lot to think about and at least eight years' worth of things to work on. Well worth reading. It's a good book. I found the worshipful admiration and gratitude for his teachers a little off-putting … but I do appreciate the humility and gratitude that makes someone want to share how amazing someone else is. However, when I recommend it to others – and I will – I will probably suggest they begin in chapter 3, where the breath teaching starts. The Russian Orthodox flavor was great. Many martial arts texts (particularly the older ones, but also a number of the new) are tinged with religion. After so many Buddhist, Daoist, Shinto, etc, it was nice to see an Eastern Christianity view. You can tell that the creators of this method were special forces and that a lot of the early training was military. You can tell that the author practices about a dozen martial arts very intensely. How? The really rather sweet, innocent assumption that everyone who reads this book is an athletic male in his prime. I have had to completely adjust every single exercise shown in this book to something I could do. First they have you doing lots and lots of push-ups while doing interesting breath patterns...with no tension anywhere in your body. Just as I was trying to figure out if I (with my pathetic upper body strength) could possibly work up to doing a push-up that slowly if I did it from my knees, the author has a helpful suggestion. Guess what? If doing endless slow push-ups is so easy that not only do you not have any muscular tension but you're actually bored, you can hook one ankle behind the other to make it more interesting! I had to put the book down to laugh. I remember my first day of kindergarten. I was four years old. I remember my mounting panic as I struggled to sit up as the teacher instructed, with my legs out straight ahead of me on the floor and my torso perpendicular to the floor. I couldn't do it. My legs simply aren't flexible like that. So I particularly enjoyed it as the writer explained that the double leg lift was easy for breath work because hey! Who can't just slowly lift both legs to a 90 degree angle without any tension? The trick, he says, is knowing when to stop so you don't overfill those lungs. Oh, and stop a lot along the way, not letting your back arch. My Army friends would probably have a blast with this. But I am modifying every exercise for myself, based on the thought that breathing in these patterns under physical stress will probably bring me most of the same benefits: it just takes a lot less to stress my body that it does for, say, a Navy Seal. Yes, as other reviewers have said, the actual content is more of a fat pamphlet than a book. But it is a very valuable fat pamphlet. It will take me several years to work through this, and more to make it a natural part of my everyday life. I am grateful that the author boiled down this game-changing teaching into so few words, so that we can grasp the important things and start working on them immediately. It is simply and purely the fundamentals, without frills to obscure the important parts. It is well explained and simple. And every coach, every sensei, every trainer will tell you that it's the correct practice of the fundamentals that matters.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ayman Sieny

    Interesting book about the Russian martial art exercises. The book discusses how breathing is the most important function in the body. Thus, developing ones breathing should be the focus in any exercise. Many exercises are provided that vary in difficulty. A good read for anyone into sports.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Kechter

    So much meh.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    Dry reading and more text than needs to be there. Really it is better to learn it in person. Experience makes all the difference.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Bailey

    A good general introduction to the fundamentals of Systema breathwork.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christine Blythe

    We all need to breathe...breath is Life....but how are you breathing?most have shallow breaghing, which means you are probably not getting enough oxygen, and relaxing......This tecnique will teach you the proper way to bresthe, which you can apply to all situations....even stressful...exercise, etc, chronic illness...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Fairly short. It seems like this would be orders of magnitude better with a teacher or at least videos.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marc Pearce

    This book was just okay. I was hoping for some spectacular revelation of hidden knowledge, but the book kind of fell flat on that account. The basic principle of the breathing technique sounds simple enough on its own, but for some of the exercises that are explained, I just came to the conclusion that I'd probably get more out of it if I actually saw these techniques in person, and was guided by an experienced instructor who could just lead me through it. Personally, I was more interested in th This book was just okay. I was hoping for some spectacular revelation of hidden knowledge, but the book kind of fell flat on that account. The basic principle of the breathing technique sounds simple enough on its own, but for some of the exercises that are explained, I just came to the conclusion that I'd probably get more out of it if I actually saw these techniques in person, and was guided by an experienced instructor who could just lead me through it. Personally, I was more interested in the spiritual and philosophical aspects of the broader Systema philosophy that was touched on in the short interviews at the end of the book. I'd actually like to see an entire book dedicated to that, and I hope that someone will write it someday.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alia

    Buy Definitely worth every cent. Much to learn. There should be a film called The Systema Kid. I would watch it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

  15. 5 out of 5

    Demetrius L Gholar

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Tanti

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeffery Hickman

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert Ernest

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aiki Senshin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rob Poyton

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

  22. 4 out of 5

    D M

  23. 4 out of 5

    jake

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Farrugia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Graves

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bruno Mansano Marrão

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrian

  28. 4 out of 5

    Niels Koelmeyer

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Hobdell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Owen Martz

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