A New York Times Bestseller
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2020
Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR
“A fascinating scientific, cultural, spiritual and evolutionary history of the way humans breathe—and how we’ve all been doing it wrong for a long, long time.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic and Eat Pray Love
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 São 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Every day we take tens of thousands of breaths, but rarely are they conscious acts. But according to journalist and breathing expert James Nestor’s intensive research, the way we breathe has a massive effect on our health. In this fascinating book, Nestor argues that at some point as a species, people started breathing wrong—with real consequences! We were strangely enthralled as the author travels the globe interviewing yogis, examining ancient skulls, and scrutinizing medical case studies, all of which he narrates with contagious enthusiasm. Nestor argues, convincingly, that bad habits like overbreathing or inhaling through our mouths instead of our noses have led to a host of problems for humankind, like misaligned jaws and anxiety-related illnesses. Luckily, he concludes with a series of guided exercises to help us undo the damage. After this eye-opening listen, we’ll never take breathing for granted again.
I have tried to put into practice the advice and information in this book. It’s awesome.
Close Your Mouth and Breathe!!!
This book is entirely worth the read. It has interesting facts about the human face, dentistry, archeology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, along with the ins and outs of breathing. He visits some pretty cool places you definitely wouldn’t expect him to go (and some you would) in purist of greater knowledge about breathing. I loved the breathing exercises at the end (some of them remind me of breath training when I was a chorister) and will definitely return to them often.
It’s not exactly what I thought I was getting into, but it’s still very much worth the read. He did travel to pomology labs, ancient burial cites, and São Paulo, but he never went to the other places listed. He talked about a guy who started in a New Jersey Choir School and a secret soviet lab, but he didn’t go to either (for good reason on the latter).
It was in the midst of this book that I realised that I never had asthma of any kind, no breathing problems of any kind, while I was a chorister. Once I stopped singing in the choir (we didn’t have a choir school, but it was the same training) that suddenly I had breathing problems. That was enough to make me a believer in what this guy and all of his sources have to say. I just really wish he would have actually visited that choir school, but that’s probably just because I really wanted to go to one as a kid.
Very technical but I love that. Kept my attention for sure.