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Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you're not breathing properly. There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you're not breathing properly. There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences. Journalist James Nestor travels the world to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. The answers aren't found in pulmonology labs, as we might expect, but in the muddy digs of ancient burial sites, secret Soviet facilities, New Jersey choir schools, and the smoggy streets of S�o Paulo. Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, and Tummo and teams up with pulmonary tinkerers to scientifically test long-held beliefs about how we breathe. Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance; rejuvenate internal organs; halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease; and even straighten scoliotic spines. None of this should be possible, and yet it is. Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology, Breath turns the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function on its head. You will never breathe the same again.


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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you're not breathing properly. There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you're not breathing properly. There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences. Journalist James Nestor travels the world to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. The answers aren't found in pulmonology labs, as we might expect, but in the muddy digs of ancient burial sites, secret Soviet facilities, New Jersey choir schools, and the smoggy streets of S�o Paulo. Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, and Tummo and teams up with pulmonary tinkerers to scientifically test long-held beliefs about how we breathe. Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance; rejuvenate internal organs; halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease; and even straighten scoliotic spines. None of this should be possible, and yet it is. Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology, Breath turns the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function on its head. You will never breathe the same again.

30 review for Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

  1. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    In terms of single subject science books, Breath is a bit light on the science and heavy on the anecdotal evidence. Though there doesn’t appear to be anything outrageous or obviously harmful here, there also doesn’t appear to be deeply researched double-blind scientific studies following statistically significant populations either. The observation of one yogi who can seemingly control body temperature doesn’t make much of an observation about humanity at large, and it might just be an aberratio In terms of single subject science books, Breath is a bit light on the science and heavy on the anecdotal evidence. Though there doesn’t appear to be anything outrageous or obviously harmful here, there also doesn’t appear to be deeply researched double-blind scientific studies following statistically significant populations either. The observation of one yogi who can seemingly control body temperature doesn’t make much of an observation about humanity at large, and it might just be an aberration or a falsified data point. But again, the recommendations of nose breathing and engaging in yoga-style breathing exercises seem fairly benign and may even improve overall health. But the science seems about as settled as various diet recommendations, the science of which seems to change by the year.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    It seems many of us today, breathe wrong? A planet of open mouthed breathers that has caused a myriad of health issues. So, the author sets out to find how and when this changed. Melding, the historical, the scientific and current practices he takes us way back to a time when things were very different. When our mouths, noses and sinuses, our teeth were very different. One never knows when picking up a book, that this book could be extremely beneficial to ones own health problems. That is what ha It seems many of us today, breathe wrong? A planet of open mouthed breathers that has caused a myriad of health issues. So, the author sets out to find how and when this changed. Melding, the historical, the scientific and current practices he takes us way back to a time when things were very different. When our mouths, noses and sinuses, our teeth were very different. One never knows when picking up a book, that this book could be extremely beneficial to ones own health problems. That is what happened here, as.i both read and tried out the exercises in the book. Due to my severe breathing problems, I own an oximeter and monitor my oxygen levels. After just a short time, doing a few simple breathing exercises, my oxygen level rose quite substantially. I bought the book, the back of the book filled with items, things to do, that can help one strengthen lungs, sinuses and other areas. Aa life changed? We'll see, but right now I'm hopeful.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Story

    I've had respiratory problems since I was a child and thus found this book quite fascinating. The author presents various theories on the best ways to improve our breathing and backs up the methods with science. I tried some of the suggested exercises and felt better immediately. I highly recommend this not only to people with breathing problems but anyone at all who is interested in improving their health.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    Popular science approach to the physiological effects of breathing, and how we breathe, on the body and mind from the cellular level up. Unsurprisingly, a good bit of attention is focused on yoga techniques, but it also illustrates other techniques utilized by premier athletes and opera singers. Essentially, how to get the most out of life. This doesn't replace modern medicine, it demonstrates what a valuable tool conscious breathing is on the human engine. Not academic speak, but substantive en Popular science approach to the physiological effects of breathing, and how we breathe, on the body and mind from the cellular level up. Unsurprisingly, a good bit of attention is focused on yoga techniques, but it also illustrates other techniques utilized by premier athletes and opera singers. Essentially, how to get the most out of life. This doesn't replace modern medicine, it demonstrates what a valuable tool conscious breathing is on the human engine. Not academic speak, but substantive enough that I'll buy a copy for a healthcare worker friend. And honestly, I'm a bit terrified of mouth-breathing after reading this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steph Mann

    Though I believe there is really good information to help people to better health, the author sometimes supports his ideas with information he got from I-don't-know-where. Example: in 30+ years as a Tibetan Buddhist studying with authentic teachers (not reading new-age or yoga studio versions of Tibetan Buddhism) I've never heard or been taught about repeating om mani padme hum one syllable/second. Where in the world did he get the that idea? I'd love to know. The fact that he supports his argume Though I believe there is really good information to help people to better health, the author sometimes supports his ideas with information he got from I-don't-know-where. Example: in 30+ years as a Tibetan Buddhist studying with authentic teachers (not reading new-age or yoga studio versions of Tibetan Buddhism) I've never heard or been taught about repeating om mani padme hum one syllable/second. Where in the world did he get the that idea? I'd love to know. The fact that he supports his arguments with something highly questionable in this case makes me suspect he does it in other cases that I am less knowledgeable about. This in turn makes me question everything in the book much more than if his arguments had more comprehensive notes/footnotes. I *think* the author knows what he's writing about, but am not sure since he includes what I'm pretty sure is some kind of perversion in the area of my expertise. And though that area of expertise is only peripherally associated with the core of the book still it creates suspicions and doubts in my mind.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rishabh Srivastava

    This was far too new-agey for my tastes, and seemed to cherry pick studies instead of quoting meta-studies. The larger message of the book (nasal-breathing is preferable to mouth-breathing, and slowing down breathing can lead to a host of health benefits) seem to be well substantiated. But portraying breathing techniques as a panacea to everything seemed a little hackneyed. Quick read, and has some useful snippets. But wouldn't recommend it if you've done some form of breath-work in the past.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Well this book was very enlightening, I had no idea correct breathing has such an importance on your overall health and can prevent diseases and conditions. Always breathe through your nose, never through your mouth, even when you're exercising, and especially when you're sleeping. Breathing through your mouth can cause dental problems, jaw and facial issues and even erectile dysfunction. This has been known and practiced for centuries. Just as inhaling is important exhaling is equally as importan Well this book was very enlightening, I had no idea correct breathing has such an importance on your overall health and can prevent diseases and conditions. Always breathe through your nose, never through your mouth, even when you're exercising, and especially when you're sleeping. Breathing through your mouth can cause dental problems, jaw and facial issues and even erectile dysfunction. This has been known and practiced for centuries. Just as inhaling is important exhaling is equally as important, it's important to have full exhales. Chewing is important and we're loosing this ability by eating soft foods, smoothies and avocado's and banana's are all soft. It's fine to eat those foods but you have to also have hearty foods to chew onto to maintain that strong jaw. There's breathing methods you can do to improve health or to get rid of snoring and even sleep apnea. It's all about conscious strong breathing for short periods of time. Hold your breath to improve diaphragm strength, carbon dioxide levels rise. Carbon dioxide is a product that is mostly in the exhale but it's still very important to the bodies system. Breathe in for 5.5 seconds and exhale for 5.5 seconds for few minutes or few hours. James Nestor talks about Wim Hof's breathing methods too, and I've seen Wim from Gwyneth Paltrow's tv show The Goop Lab where Wim had a whole episode.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Subodh

    This book has some very important ideas, but goes about them in a roundabout manner - digressing frequently into unnecessary personal anecdotes. The style reminds me of people selling miracle cures who promise a lot, but take a long time to tell what they are selling. The useful ideas of the book can be summed up in a few pages, the rest is unnecessary verbiage. Some of the ideas are dangerous. He talks of inhaling air rich in carbon dioxide as a treatment for many ailments. My fear is the some This book has some very important ideas, but goes about them in a roundabout manner - digressing frequently into unnecessary personal anecdotes. The style reminds me of people selling miracle cures who promise a lot, but take a long time to tell what they are selling. The useful ideas of the book can be summed up in a few pages, the rest is unnecessary verbiage. Some of the ideas are dangerous. He talks of inhaling air rich in carbon dioxide as a treatment for many ailments. My fear is the some people my try their hand at self-cure with carbon dioxide after reading this book and come to grief. The useful ideas of the book are essentially: Breathing through the mouth is harmful, one should breathe through the nose; Breathing slowly is best. The ideal breathing rate is 5.5 breaths per minute. Long exhalations are particularly beneficial. Rapid breathing is generally harmful, but done with conscious control it can be beneficial. Carbon dioxide is not metabolic waste, it has an important role in health and well-being. These ideas could have been expressed more clearly and succintly.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Tankersley

    4 parts good info and 1 part crackpot, this book seems to have a good amount of excellent information that’s well-researched mixed in with some new age nonsense. But on the whole, I’m glad I read this. I am using some of these exercises and am making some (hopefully) lifelong breathing changes based on the principles in this book. I’m glad that this book is pushing forward some good self-maintenance and I look forward to the research that grows out of the author’s compilation of a variety of sou 4 parts good info and 1 part crackpot, this book seems to have a good amount of excellent information that’s well-researched mixed in with some new age nonsense. But on the whole, I’m glad I read this. I am using some of these exercises and am making some (hopefully) lifelong breathing changes based on the principles in this book. I’m glad that this book is pushing forward some good self-maintenance and I look forward to the research that grows out of the author’s compilation of a variety of sources into a slim, easy-to-read volume.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Griffnilla

    Yoga talk about breathing never really stuck with me. I honestly did not expect this to be very interesting, let alone provocative. But it's full of fascinating explanations, histories, and interviews. I'm going to have to relearn how to breathe!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cher

    4 stars - It was great. I loved it. “When a wave comes, it washes over you and runs up the beach. Then, the wave turns around, and recedes over you, going back to the ocean….This is like the breath, which exhales, transitions, inhales, transitions, and then starts the process again.” My work in cardiopulmonary rehab involves teaching patients that have a respiratory disease such as asthma or COPD. I figured that if I learned more about breathing, I could pass on the information to them. With expec 4 stars - It was great. I loved it. “When a wave comes, it washes over you and runs up the beach. Then, the wave turns around, and recedes over you, going back to the ocean….This is like the breath, which exhales, transitions, inhales, transitions, and then starts the process again.” My work in cardiopulmonary rehab involves teaching patients that have a respiratory disease such as asthma or COPD. I figured that if I learned more about breathing, I could pass on the information to them. With expectations for it to be dry and boring, I picked it up but was fascinated from the very first chapter. I love how the author brings up intriguing questions that had not previously occurred to you, such as why humans are the only mammal out of 5,400 different species to regularly have overbites, underbites and snaggled teeth. The author spent a decade traveling all around the world learning about various modern and historical teachings about breathing. In addition to thoroughly researching the topic, he participates in several scientific studies as well. Everything that was revealed was interesting and encourages you to research further on your own. I also appreciated how the author would include fascinating tidbits about the human body that I, a healthcare professional, did not realize. For example: “In a single breath, more molecules of air will pass through your nose than all the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches - trillions and trillions of them. These little bits of air come from a few feet or several yards away. As they make their way toward you, they’ll twist and spool like the stars in a van Gogh sky, and they’ll keep twisting and spooling and scrolling as they pass into you, traveling at a clip of about five miles per hour.” The main moral of the story is, mouth breathers look stupid for a reason. If possible, only breathe through your nose. If you enjoy learning about the human body, inner balance, or longevity, this is an easy book to recommend. ------------------------------------------- First Sentence: The place looked like something out of Amityville: all paint-chipped walls, dusty windows, and menacing shadows cast by moonlight. Favorite Quote: Nature functions in orders of magnitude. Mammals with the lowest resting heart rates live the longest.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I read a whole book on a thing I have never thought about before and now I feel like I have to relearn automatic functions of my body! I wish there was a bit more evolutionary science to back up some of the claims here because the claims on how our mouths got too small and our noses don't work properly is a little bit far-fetched? Seems like he's making both an evolutionary claim (though seems more Lamarckian than Darwinian) that when we started eating soft foods, our jaws a a species got smalle I read a whole book on a thing I have never thought about before and now I feel like I have to relearn automatic functions of my body! I wish there was a bit more evolutionary science to back up some of the claims here because the claims on how our mouths got too small and our noses don't work properly is a little bit far-fetched? Seems like he's making both an evolutionary claim (though seems more Lamarckian than Darwinian) that when we started eating soft foods, our jaws a a species got smaller and also he's making an environmental claim that we do this to ourselves by not chewing enough etc. I just would love to see more support for this theory, which I am willing to buy. I am totally onboard the arguments about breathing as meditation and as healing. I think that is so embedded in so many cultures and sort of obvious to anyone who has tried it. On the orthodontia practices, my mom (who is a big believer in ancient healing practices) has been railing against how orthodontists made my younger siblings' mouths too small by taking out too many teeth too early so I am sure she will be happy to have this supported.

  13. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    I have had breathing issues for many years, allergies, etc. Could it be that I am not breathing correctly? After reading Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, there’s a pretty good chance that I’m not. The author takes us through his own experiences in trying to learn better breathing techniques. The anecdotal info is very interesting. There are some breathing methods and exercises that I will be trying. Some are ancient, some are new. I’m glad the author clarifies that while improved breathing I have had breathing issues for many years, allergies, etc. Could it be that I am not breathing correctly? After reading Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, there’s a pretty good chance that I’m not. The author takes us through his own experiences in trying to learn better breathing techniques. The anecdotal info is very interesting. There are some breathing methods and exercises that I will be trying. Some are ancient, some are new. I’m glad the author clarifies that while improved breathing can help a wide range of health issues, it should not replace seeking medical help.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Poe

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. James Nestor makes it clear at the outset of this book that he is a journalist, not a scientist. As a scientist living in the age of COVID-19 and Donald Trump, I have learned to be wary of journalists who speak for the scientific community. At the end of the day, the goal of journalism is to bring attention to a topic, and often at the expense of objectivity. “Breath”, I will be the first to admit, takes the reader on a fascinating journey, along with Nestor himself, in discovering—and “re”-disco James Nestor makes it clear at the outset of this book that he is a journalist, not a scientist. As a scientist living in the age of COVID-19 and Donald Trump, I have learned to be wary of journalists who speak for the scientific community. At the end of the day, the goal of journalism is to bring attention to a topic, and often at the expense of objectivity. “Breath”, I will be the first to admit, takes the reader on a fascinating journey, along with Nestor himself, in discovering—and “re”-discovering—breathing techniques that allow the practitioner to exert mindful control over their physiology, from decreasing snoring and combating ADHD to seemingly superhuman tales of curing scoliosis and thinly-garbed monks melting circles around them in the snow, using the mysterious “Tummo” technique. There is much good to be said about the breadth (pun intended) of this book, and it brings a lot of fascinating case studies to light. Nestor, with his journalistic charm, is never one to shy away from perhaps overly descriptive language, and keeps the reader curious about what will happen next throughout the narrative and descriptive portions of the book. With all this said, one word was present in the back of my mind the entire time I was reading this book—pseudoscience. I will not claim the infallibility or immunity from ignorance of scientific and medical institutions, but Nestor seems to suggest its presence with a twinkle in his eye, in an apparent appeal to the “alternative medicine” audience that may find and read this book. Much of the language used is outdated, like “reptilian brain” and “left-brained vs. right-brained”, and mostly harmless. But at times, I was particularly alarmed. At one instance, Nestor suggests that “nasal cycles”, where one alternates between breathing through the left and right nostrils, are responsible for stimulating logical thinking vs creativity, appealing not only to an outdated and harmful pseudoscientific concept in neuropsychology, but also failing to address the obvious question that would be raised in response to such a claim: both nostrils lead to the same sinus cavity, so there is no reason to suspect such a ridiculous idea, and had the author truly acquainted himself with the anatomy of the nasal passages before attempting to play scientist, this idea never would have been entertained. While the book is interesting and a good read, for the layperson not equipped to recognize and address the various thinly-veils appeals to ancient wisdom, non-sequiturs, and other logical fallacies and scientific inaccuracies sprinkled throughout what is otherwise a fascinating and informative read, I can not recommend this book. It is far too likely that this book will become a part of the gospel of the “alternative medicine” community, and that is not something I can endorse. While Nestor does make a genuine attempt at scientific rigor, his final product is ultimately a 200 page op ed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tony Winyard

    This is an absolutely fascinating book. The author did a huge amount of research and I'd guess many will be amazed at how many things are connected to the way we breathe, such as blood pressure, bone density, our facial structure, snoring, allergies, hypertension, psoriasis, asthma, crooked teeth... The explanations of some those things made so much sense and I liked the suggestions provided on how to go about remedying some of those issues in a way that costs nothing but time and effort. Am about This is an absolutely fascinating book. The author did a huge amount of research and I'd guess many will be amazed at how many things are connected to the way we breathe, such as blood pressure, bone density, our facial structure, snoring, allergies, hypertension, psoriasis, asthma, crooked teeth... The explanations of some those things made so much sense and I liked the suggestions provided on how to go about remedying some of those issues in a way that costs nothing but time and effort. Am about to start reading for a second time to truly take it all in.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elyssa Gooding

    I listened to the audiobook and think it was a great way to digest the majority of the information. I practiced some fantastic breathing techniques while I listened and I’m a believer. The final part of the book was more intense and, frankly, I don’t think I’ll adopt those techniques, but others are here for good. The research took the writer around the world and had him experimenting on himself. The sample sizes weren’t big, scientific study based, but the results were informative.

  17. 4 out of 5

    George Sykes

    I was expecting something that covered the science of breath, instead it mainly just regurgitated claims from new age experts.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nyamka Ganni

    There is one thing that we do all day everyday. It's breathing. The way we breath can have significant health consequences that we should be aware of. This is not a perfect book. It has some important information along with some sketchy ideas. At least read about it and do your research. It might help you or someone you love. How we breath matters!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Fournet

    This is the most fascinating book I’ve read all year. Most of us are breathing wrong, yes, breathing wrong, and it’s making us sick. We can improve our sleep, chronic health problems, athletic performance, mental health, and longevity by changing the way we #breathe. I recommend this book for anyone who breathes and anyone who’d like to breathe a few years longer.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lukasz

    An excellent book that presents an accessible overview of how breathing influences our health and well-being. It doesn't break new ground but is well-written and accessible to all. Highly recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Often fascinating, often ho-hum (sigh?). I had completely forgotten about books like this -- narrative/science-y, in the Mary Roach or Po Bronson vein, where a writer takes an enormously large concept and sets about investigating and making the latest research about it accessible to the rest of us. There used to be so many of them (BIG TITLE: The [Descriptive] [Something] of [Something Everyday]) ... I guess they all became podcasts instead? ANYWAYS, this book is definitely intriguing and occasio Often fascinating, often ho-hum (sigh?). I had completely forgotten about books like this -- narrative/science-y, in the Mary Roach or Po Bronson vein, where a writer takes an enormously large concept and sets about investigating and making the latest research about it accessible to the rest of us. There used to be so many of them (BIG TITLE: The [Descriptive] [Something] of [Something Everyday]) ... I guess they all became podcasts instead? ANYWAYS, this book is definitely intriguing and occasionally revealing, especially if you're one of the many, many first-world mouth-breathers out there (hello, we all do it) wondering why your nose always feels loaded with almost-set cement and your breathing just isn't what it used to be. Modern humans are so smart we screwed ourselves over by eating soft foods and learning bad habits as babies, which has altered the shape and sizes of our mouths and jaws and intricate nasal passages. Now we can barely breathe. Great fun. Although the storytelling aspect of this book feels padded-out quite often, I appreciated the book's easy-to-follow list of different breathing exercises to try. Might be taping my lips shut at bedtime and see how long it lasts.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    A wonderful book of its kind. It’s not gimmicky or phony, nor is it insecure about its genre as accessible “pop” science. It felt more like good journalism. The writing and research is totally interesting, clear, enjoyable, and impactful. I am definitely on the “importance of breathing correctly” train and am happy that someone got into it on so many levels including things we don’t associate with breathing but are influential all the same - such as chewing and where we situate the tongue in the A wonderful book of its kind. It’s not gimmicky or phony, nor is it insecure about its genre as accessible “pop” science. It felt more like good journalism. The writing and research is totally interesting, clear, enjoyable, and impactful. I am definitely on the “importance of breathing correctly” train and am happy that someone got into it on so many levels including things we don’t associate with breathing but are influential all the same - such as chewing and where we situate the tongue in the mouth. It’s a bit horrifying, too, to realize all the damage we are inadvertently doing to our respiration. The breathing exercises are simple but I already feel a difference in my energy level and mood. I listened to the audiobook which is read by the author (which I think makes a huge difference in audiobook quality) - it is great.

  23. 5 out of 5

    James

    via Charles Hamrick 1. Breathing. This will get you there fast, now. Especially a breath that takes longer on the Out breath than on the In breath. This will do two things, one energizes, through the vagus nerve, your Parasympathetic Nervous System, that part of you which nourishes your body, rests your body, slows your heartbeat. The second thing is that it shoots a shot of Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) into your amygdala, quietening it. And you. Equalized breathing at about five breaths per m via Charles Hamrick 1. Breathing. This will get you there fast, now. Especially a breath that takes longer on the Out breath than on the In breath. This will do two things, one energizes, through the vagus nerve, your Parasympathetic Nervous System, that part of you which nourishes your body, rests your body, slows your heartbeat. The second thing is that it shoots a shot of Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) into your amygdala, quietening it. And you. Equalized breathing at about five breaths per minute elevates your Vagal Tone, maximizing your heart rate variability (HRV), also called the RSA, the respiratory sinus arrhythmia. 2. Body scans. Simply breathing through various parts of your body, noticing each part of your body, head to toe or toe to head. Simply noticing, not judging. Many ways to do this. This enlarges your interoception, your sensitivity to your body, to the sensing aspects of your body, for it is a masterful antenna. Rather antennae. 3. Visualizing. Visualizing alternate states, what you are going to do. For example, when I skied a lot, I would plan those first three turns, and then I would be in a rhythm and the next turns take care of themselves. Same with a meeting, an important talk, questions for a master. Then your knowingness takes over. Hmmmm. 4. Minding your self talk. This is about noticing your default state. Noticing. That is all. Like a boring parade. There goes another thought. No judgment. There goes another. Boring. Of many thoughts about a subject that is causing pain or wasted energy, say fear, then some other words may assist. "Fear I see you. Fear I bring you in. Fear I learn from you. Fear, I let you go." Or "I can see this differently. What will bring me peace?" 5. Celebrating small successes. Celebrate. It doesn't have to be big. It can be being compassionate towards another. That brings great joy. 6. Mindfulness. I won't say much about this. In one way it encompasses the others, in some ways it is a way of living. Being mindful of every sip of water, every breath, every flower. Staying connected to your hub of awareness (more on this another time).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chetan

    Fascinating subject, well worth the read. This book contains mostly anecdotal evidence rather than empirical evidence. So, take this information with a large pinch of salt.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Isaac Stevens

    Breath through your nose!

  26. 4 out of 5

    timv

    One of the more interesting and enlightening books I’ve read in a while, this book is mostly about various ancient and modern breathing arts that are unknown to most of us. One of my interests is archaeology and it is well known in that fields that humans in the ancient cultures had straight teeth along fully defined jaws. No teeth crowding or need for braces or retainers for those folks were necessary. The author maintains and gives anecdotal evidence that the combination of our soft modern die One of the more interesting and enlightening books I’ve read in a while, this book is mostly about various ancient and modern breathing arts that are unknown to most of us. One of my interests is archaeology and it is well known in that fields that humans in the ancient cultures had straight teeth along fully defined jaws. No teeth crowding or need for braces or retainers for those folks were necessary. The author maintains and gives anecdotal evidence that the combination of our soft modern diet and breathing through our mouth’s instead of noses has resulted in us having smaller mouths that crowd our teeth. From there he goes on to explore many modern and ancient breathing regimes (and some of the practitioners of those regimes) that can sometimes transform lives. Pranayama anyone? The format of the book was a bit confusing to me. He bounced around from timeframe to timeframe and from place to place and following the thread was sometimes a little difficult, especially after a couple days of not reading the book and going back to it. I would’ve liked him to explore the intricacies of the ancient yoga traditions more, but perhaps I’m different than most readers and perhaps they’re just are not a lot of good references back to how breathing techniques were practiced 4-5000 years ago. It is a bit disturbing that the author constantly made broad anecdotal claims about the medical and health benefits of certain techniques without citing a lot of valid scientific data behind it. This made for a much more readable book, but it makes me suspicious of his claims. However, the book is well foot noted and many of those claims are referenced in the footnotes. I think this book would’ve benefited from explaining to the reader the human autonomic nervous system and how it works. The author just barely touches the subject, although it is the autonomic system that these breathing techniques are working on and thus are key to the understanding of how these techniques work. I especially like that the author had a summary chapter where he summed up the various breathing techniques, etc. and references sources for exploring them. I’m sure a lot of readers will appreciate this. Overall, it’s a book well worth exploring (while chewing gum!).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    Interesting food for thought, the idea that improved breathing can address a myriad of modern health issues. I'd like to test out some of the breathing methods listed in the appendix and see if I notice anything. I have tried the Wim Hof method after a recommendation from my mom (who also gifted this book to me!) but didn't keep up with it long enough to truly feel a change. I'd say you definitely have to be open to the idea of alternative medicine though to enjoy this, because a lot of it is an Interesting food for thought, the idea that improved breathing can address a myriad of modern health issues. I'd like to test out some of the breathing methods listed in the appendix and see if I notice anything. I have tried the Wim Hof method after a recommendation from my mom (who also gifted this book to me!) but didn't keep up with it long enough to truly feel a change. I'd say you definitely have to be open to the idea of alternative medicine though to enjoy this, because a lot of it is anecdotal.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Don Kent

    This book is a fresh look at breath control as a method of life change and is rather over-extended in its claims. It is a rather tiresome book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I received an ARC via Goodreads giveaway! This was a refreshing read! I was excited to have won a copy as this is not a subject that I would normally delve into and read about. I'm glad I did though - it was a very interesting read! And the timing on this book could not be more perfect, considering the times we are in. One doesn't often contemplate the method of their own breathing, let alone how it could be impacting their overall health! I've always thought of the breathing techniques of yoga, I received an ARC via Goodreads giveaway! This was a refreshing read! I was excited to have won a copy as this is not a subject that I would normally delve into and read about. I'm glad I did though - it was a very interesting read! And the timing on this book could not be more perfect, considering the times we are in. One doesn't often contemplate the method of their own breathing, let alone how it could be impacting their overall health! I've always thought of the breathing techniques of yoga, and it made sense to me that slower breathing would help calm the body and relieve stress - but this is a whole level above just yoga. One of my favorite aspects of the book is the Breathing Methods Appendix section in the back, which includes all the various breathing techniques the author has embarked on during his studies and experimentation. I've already tried a few!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Blaine

    Start with two basic facts: nothing we do is more essential to living healthfully than breathing well and most people have no idea that many of their problems come from poor breathing. Because you breathe, that probably includes you. Since my wife is a physical therapist and since I’ve studied taichi and meditation for years, I came to this book with some awareness that modern humans have breathing issues, including me. Even so, I was surprised to learn how pervasive these problems are and what Start with two basic facts: nothing we do is more essential to living healthfully than breathing well and most people have no idea that many of their problems come from poor breathing. Because you breathe, that probably includes you. Since my wife is a physical therapist and since I’ve studied taichi and meditation for years, I came to this book with some awareness that modern humans have breathing issues, including me. Even so, I was surprised to learn how pervasive these problems are and what causes them. You wouldn’t think breathing would be so complex, but it is. So many things can go wrong with it, starting with people’s unawareness or beliefs that nothing is wrong with their breathing. Bad breathing has been shown to be the source of everything from insomnia to hypertension to asthma to anxiety - not only all kinds of specific ailments but more importantly, the many chronic widespread low-level maladies that don’t get serious attention. Good breathing on the other hand gives not only a heightened sense of well-being but can enhance human performance levels in just about everything we do. What human activities don’t require breathing? Each chapter in Nestor’s book focuses on one aspect of how modern humans have become such horrible breathers, usually highlighting the work or research of prominent “plumonauts” - the word he uses for scientists researching problems stemming from bad breathing. We learn about the work of these people sometimes going back hundreds of years or, more recently, folks who’ve tackled their own problems through improved breathing. One example is Katharina Schroth who cured her own scoliosis by developing a new breathing technique and then went on to help cure thousands of others. We learn about the horrors of mouthbreathing and the vital role of the nose, the importance of prolonged exhales, the play between the roles of oxygen and carbon dioxide in breathing, how industrial processed foods helped create bad breathing, the importance of chewing, and what amazing results can come from various enhanced breathing techniques. Nestor presents all this around the story of his research of the book, often subjecting himself to the experiments or techniques of those he was researching, as for example, when he learned for himself what happens when you breathe too much carbon dioxide. The book is well referenced; the writing is mostly easy reading and good humored, but after a while you get tired of the way the book is edited and presented. I was ready for it to end. Nestor often refers to ancient and indigenous cultures whose awareness of the importance of proper breathing was lost in our modern era. Most of what he presents is western-based modern medical research into health issues related to bad breathing. It is only in the last chapter that he considers the many thousand-year-old sophisticated traditions of Indian and Chinese breathing techniques and practices and their concepts of prana in yoga and ch'i in the Chinese arts. The enormity of these traditions precludes any treatment more than a single chapter and there are already hundreds of volumes focusing on these breathing traditions. Related to these traditions, the book has little or nothing to say about the science of healthy breathing that has come from the modern mindfulness meditation revolution, a broad array of practices with an important focus on breath awareness. There are no doubt many other books on breathing out there but, having not read them, I'm in no position to compare this one to those. All I can say is that I enjoyed this book and I now have a much better sense of the many issues that stem from bad or mindless breathing and which ones pertain to my life. I also know better how to go about improving both my mental and physical health through better breathing. May you breathe well in these crazy times.

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