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Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

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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. Jo 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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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. Jo 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. 4 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. 5 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. 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

    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. 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.

  5. 5 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

    Brian

    Over-promising, potentially dangerous, pseudo-science book that uses limited to no data to substantiate its claims. We don’t need another rebuke of science in the world these days...Nestor’s sentences like “doctors use scary words to describe breathing like hypercapnia, hypoxia...” undermine actual researchers and physicians. This book uses the classic trope of the medical establishment dismissing obvious, home-remedy style solutions. Friend, if even 10% of the claims in this book were true, phy Over-promising, potentially dangerous, pseudo-science book that uses limited to no data to substantiate its claims. We don’t need another rebuke of science in the world these days...Nestor’s sentences like “doctors use scary words to describe breathing like hypercapnia, hypoxia...” undermine actual researchers and physicians. This book uses the classic trope of the medical establishment dismissing obvious, home-remedy style solutions. Friend, if even 10% of the claims in this book were true, physicians everywhere would be prescribing breathing exercises immediately. What are those claims? The author states that breathing can cure scoliosis, strokes, asthma, bacteremia caused by injecting E. Coli into a patients veins, etc. Nearly every disease category is invoked. Only in his final disclaimers at the end of the book does he say “if you have stage 4 cancer, these breathing exercises won’t cure that.” This feels like a Theranos-style use of data. The author uses Stanford’s name like he’s a full professor there, but he’s not affiliated at all and merely participated in a study on nose-breathing vs mouth-breathing. He uses qualifiers like “in several unpublished studies”...readers should beware of claims like that. Why would something so effective be unpublished? Oh right, the medical establishment trope. He interviews several “pulmonauts” — a word he created that is an insult to astronauts everywhere. These are people who have tried weird things with breathing and believe they’re effective. One main thesis is the equivalent of intermittent fasting for breathing...”what if we breathed less?” Look out for future books on things-we-all-do mixed with what-if-we-did-them-less. Book ideas: blinking? itching? moving? Have at it, Mr. Nestor. Can breathing help calm us down? Probably. Do people have actual breathing problems? Of course. Are we all breathing wrong and nearly all our ailments can be cured by just following this author’s breathing exercises? Doubtful. If all this is true, put in the effort and run some scientific studies, Mr. Nestor. Prove your claims, get them peer-reviewed, and show the world. It’s too easy to write a misleading book these days. How is this a NYTimes bestseller? Perhaps it should be in the fiction category...

  7. 5 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    Hmm. An interesting look at breathing (how very much of human culture has treated it as important, how we in the modern West don't, and what difference scientists have shown it can make). Some really interesting stuff in here when it's actually evidence based, especially on why it's important to breathe through the nose and into the abdomen, both of which I've heard a lot but never thought much about. And 'email apnea' is clearly a thing (when your attention is skittering around the internet and Hmm. An interesting look at breathing (how very much of human culture has treated it as important, how we in the modern West don't, and what difference scientists have shown it can make). Some really interesting stuff in here when it's actually evidence based, especially on why it's important to breathe through the nose and into the abdomen, both of which I've heard a lot but never thought much about. And 'email apnea' is clearly a thing (when your attention is skittering around the internet and you gasp for breath and realise you've not been breathing properly for some time. There's an awful lot of fairly unlikely assertions in here, eg breathing through the left nostril affects a different nervous system than breathing through the right one which...I'd like a bit more explanation on how that works, honestly. Lots of subjective responses as well. But clearly breathing requires a bit more attention than I've hitherto given it, anyway. Engagingly written, also, with lots of humour and some really interesting case histories.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    James Nestor takes a deep dive into the fascinating and surprisingly mysterious world of breathing. "How mysterious could it be, Heidi?" I hear you ask. It's something everyone does without thinking literally a few times every minute every day of their lives. Well, there's a lot of mysteriousness, as Nestor discovered through his journey from terrible breathing to consciousness-shifting, bone-building, better breathing. "I do as instructed, and listen as the rushing wind that was pouring through m James Nestor takes a deep dive into the fascinating and surprisingly mysterious world of breathing. "How mysterious could it be, Heidi?" I hear you ask. It's something everyone does without thinking literally a few times every minute every day of their lives. Well, there's a lot of mysteriousness, as Nestor discovered through his journey from terrible breathing to consciousness-shifting, bone-building, better breathing. "I do as instructed, and listen as the rushing wind that was pouring through my lungs suddenly stops and is replaced by pure silence, the kind of jarring quietude a skydiver feels the moment a parachute opens. But this stillness is coming from inside." pg 143, ebook He talks to researchers and mystics from around the globe to access both cutting edge research as well as ancient teachings from such exalted texts as The Upanishads. What he's discussing here isn't new, but it feels new, perhaps because of the chronic disconnect between the mind and body that seems to haunt modern humanity. From breathing slower to exhaling more, the dangerous of mouth breathing and the astonishing connection carbon dioxide inhalation has to panic attacks, there's a lot to explore. And, despite all of the observed benefits and ten years of extensive research, Nestor doesn't forget to mention that breathing isn't a panacea. I appreciated that part as well. "... what I'd like to make clear now, is that breathing, like any therapy or medication, can't do everything. Breathing fast, slow, or not at all can't make an embolism go away. ... No breathing can heal stage IV cancer. These severe problems require urgent medical attention." pg 184-185, ebook I bookmarked all of the exercises Nestor gathers together from the text and lists at the end of the book. Each has similar yet slightly different affects according to practitioners of the methods. I may have to try every one to see for myself. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 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.

  12. 5 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Teal

    One GR reviewer calls this "4 parts good info and 1 part crackpot," which I think is fair. Maybe even a little too kind -- I'd call it 3 parts good info, 1 part chat & anecdotes, and 1 part crackpot. It drove me nuts that there were no footnotes, and the bibliography isn't in the book but on his website. On his website. Grrrrrrr. But that doesn't change the fact that for me, this was exactly the right book at exactly the right time. A few days ago I noticed that my breathing pattern was short and One GR reviewer calls this "4 parts good info and 1 part crackpot," which I think is fair. Maybe even a little too kind -- I'd call it 3 parts good info, 1 part chat & anecdotes, and 1 part crackpot. It drove me nuts that there were no footnotes, and the bibliography isn't in the book but on his website. On his website. Grrrrrrr. But that doesn't change the fact that for me, this was exactly the right book at exactly the right time. A few days ago I noticed that my breathing pattern was short and shallow and fast and uncomfortable, and I couldn't seem to shift it. It was as if my upper torso was locked, and I couldn't extend my inhales or exhales. It was a strange and disconcerting experience. This library loan came through that same day, and along with a breathing app I'd had on my phone forever, I set to work/play to try to loosen things up. The resulting changes in my body came so swiftly that I decided I'd better keep a daily log to track them. Otherwise, I knew I'd be looking back on this experience and doubting things could have happened that... dramatically. Starting with the day I opened the book and began experimenting with its techniques, I've had 4 consecutive nights of good sleep. Four nights. It has been years since I could say that. YEARS. The chronic sinus/nasal congestion that's been a feature of my life forever has moderated by about 50%. And my posture problem, that over the years I've alternately bemoaned and physically struggled against? That resolved itself in 18 hours (half of which I spent asleep). And it's not like I haven't experimented with breathwork before. I've even done Grof's Holotropic Breathwork, many years ago (which I'd actually forgotten about entirely, until I encountered it in this book -- that's how little impact it had on me). But like I said above, right book, right time. My experience is just another anecdote, though, so take it for whatever it's worth. Be aware that there's some very fair criticism of the book out there. For example, here's a 3-star review I agree with: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... And here's a 1-star review with a perspective worth considering: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... But for me personally, implementing the breathing advice in this book has been, and is currently in the process of being, transformative. And when the price drops a bit, I'll buy a copy to keep. (I add that last sentence for the benefit of my GR friends who know what a cheapskate I am.)

  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

    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.

  16. 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! 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!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    The subject of breath, is in and of itself quite intriguing. After all, we could not exist without breathing but most people usually do not give much thought to the complexity of cellular respiration a daily basis. Although some of the content in this book appears to be well researched, much of it is based on the author's personal experiences or causal observations by researchers. Still, there is a lot of substance to this book. Based on paleontological evidence, it does seem the anatomical stru The subject of breath, is in and of itself quite intriguing. After all, we could not exist without breathing but most people usually do not give much thought to the complexity of cellular respiration a daily basis. Although some of the content in this book appears to be well researched, much of it is based on the author's personal experiences or causal observations by researchers. Still, there is a lot of substance to this book. Based on paleontological evidence, it does seem the anatomical structure of the human face has changed and those changes have negatively impacted nasal breathing. (That might partially account for the prevalence of sleep apnea or susceptibility to nasal infections in humans.) Also, the assertion that mouth breathing is unhealthy sounds reasonable. Otherwise the author claims that many health issues are caused or made worse by improper breathing and he might be right. Until there are multiple double-blind scientific studies conducted, those are just unproven statements. I appreciated the appendix included at the end of the book, which describes different types of breathing techniques in detail. Although I cannot say how helpful they were beyond providing a relaxation response, over the last ten years I have used various breathing techniques myself during yoga classes. Overall, this was a worthwhile read if one ignores some of the inflated beneficial health claims. I think this is the type of book one can enjoy reading, while otherwise taking from it what one will. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4

  18. 5 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Kiernan

    When was the last time you read a book that, within the first three pages, changed your behavior? BREATH will do that. You'll find yourself breathing deeper, newly aware of the sustenance you rely on more than food or sleep, yet which you take largely for granted. That mindfulness is the best thing about this book. The author submits himself as the subject of experiments, so the descriptions are visceral (you will not want to try the 10-day mouth-breathing test). The writing is vivid and in a lig When was the last time you read a book that, within the first three pages, changed your behavior? BREATH will do that. You'll find yourself breathing deeper, newly aware of the sustenance you rely on more than food or sleep, yet which you take largely for granted. That mindfulness is the best thing about this book. The author submits himself as the subject of experiments, so the descriptions are visceral (you will not want to try the 10-day mouth-breathing test). The writing is vivid and in a light tone. There's a rhetorical problem, in part, because the author believes that everything old is therefore wise (we need only look back as far as blood letting and leeches to know that's not true). His belief sometimes leaves holes in his argument. But paying attention to breath is fascinating. There's an interesting fact on nearly every page. You'll find yourself breathing longer, and entirely through your nose, with an emphasis on completing the exhale. And later, you'll realize how shallow your breath often is. Any book that reveals that sort of shortcoming is worth the ink, and time.

  22. 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.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Drew Quinton

    I am not normally one to write reviews for books, but I felt I must with this one. I cannot believe how contrary to the scientific process this book is, whilst having the word "science" in the title. This book is the author's philosophy on breathing, developed by experimenting on himself. It uses anecdotes in place of evidence. It attributes correlation to causation. And it cherry-picks data that supports its position. Two glowing examples (before I put the book down): 1. Nestor explains that Nativ I am not normally one to write reviews for books, but I felt I must with this one. I cannot believe how contrary to the scientific process this book is, whilst having the word "science" in the title. This book is the author's philosophy on breathing, developed by experimenting on himself. It uses anecdotes in place of evidence. It attributes correlation to causation. And it cherry-picks data that supports its position. Two glowing examples (before I put the book down): 1. Nestor explains that Native American Indians had perfect teeth and very minimal respiratory problems, a fact which he attributes to a cultural practice of breathing through their noses. The "science" that this is based on, is the writings of a painter in 1830. Nestor chooses not to consider the effects that air pollution, physical activity, genetics, population density, etc 2. Nestor also suggests that modern humans are breathing too much and that what our bodies "require to function properly" is "more carbon dioxide". Nestor bases this off experiments conducted decades ago whereby dogs we strapped down to tables, intubated, and physically forced to breathe at a higher rate with bellows until they died. This is the "new science" that Nestor bases his recommendations on. Nestor also seems to neglect to mention that raised blood carbon dioxide levels are a sign of chronic respiratory disease, seen in COPD, OSA, OHS, etc. Okay, rant over. Time to take some deep breathes...

  24. 5 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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. 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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hirdesh

    I Guess, I'm wrong person who has picked this book... It's for beginners.. or I could have liked it if it was fiction......... I Guess, I'm wrong person who has picked this book... It's for beginners.. or I could have liked it if it was fiction.........

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lara Amber

    Unfortunately full of pseudoscience and overblown claims. For example he talks about Katharine Schroth in Chapter 4 describing her case of scoliosis as extreme and her being left to whither in bed. Minor research shows that her case was considered mild to moderate and she didn’t cure it with just breathing but also physical therapy. His descriptions of her clinic skip over anything that disturbs the magic of breathing storyline he’s pursuing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bintou

    I can honestly say this was a very fascinating read. This books follows a personal experiment the author and another professional carried out on mouth breathing vs nose breathing where they had to spend 10 days with their noses completely plugged up and they saw the massive health consequences that came with breathing only through the mouth (high blood pressure, sleep apnea, snoring, etc). Throughout the book, Nestor also includes scientific research on breathing that has been “lost” to modern s I can honestly say this was a very fascinating read. This books follows a personal experiment the author and another professional carried out on mouth breathing vs nose breathing where they had to spend 10 days with their noses completely plugged up and they saw the massive health consequences that came with breathing only through the mouth (high blood pressure, sleep apnea, snoring, etc). Throughout the book, Nestor also includes scientific research on breathing that has been “lost” to modern scientists as well differences in breathing in cultures who do not suffer breathing issues as readily as most people. The main claims the author is making are (1) major changes in the structure of the faces of homo sapiens due to the growth of the brain (recessed chins, slumped jaws and smaller sinuses) has lead to many of the prevalent respiratory problems that were absent in our ancestors (2) Mouth breathing is extremely bad for you (3) Carbon dioxide can be good for you And (4) There is a very specific breathing rhythm that is most efficient (5.5 second inhales and exhales). I liked that he included the actual breathing practices in the book with instructions on how to carry them out. If you obtain the audiobook, one of the figureheads from the book actually talks you through most of them, and that was a lot of fun to try out. Again, the reader has to decide for themselves whether they are willing to believe all the claims made by the author, but at the very least, the breathing techniques are harmless, and I found them very relaxing. One thing to note: the audiobook deviates from the actual book A LOT. It sounds like the audiobook was edited down, but it was annoying to read along and then have the audiobook suddenly jump 3 paragraphs ahead. 4/5 stars I think it would have been interesting to see if there were more experimental studies and not just personal/anecdotal evidence. It's possible that it simply doesn't exist though.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    4.5 ⭐️ Fascinating. I had no idea of the health issues that seemingly go hand in hand with those who breath through their mouths versus their noses (also - you can remedy this!) The author has his own breathing issues so offers himself up as a sort of guinea pig for experiments throughout. Note - he also reads the audio and is a great narrator. Humour is infused throughout making it quite enjoyable. I want to spend more time on the breathing exercises offered at the end of the book, but my libra 4.5 ⭐️ Fascinating. I had no idea of the health issues that seemingly go hand in hand with those who breath through their mouths versus their noses (also - you can remedy this!) The author has his own breathing issues so offers himself up as a sort of guinea pig for experiments throughout. Note - he also reads the audio and is a great narrator. Humour is infused throughout making it quite enjoyable. I want to spend more time on the breathing exercises offered at the end of the book, but my library hold expired, so will wait to get my hands on it again. If you’re keen on the history or even just how to improve your own fitness with breathing techniques, this book is for you.

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