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 25,000 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.
In this fascinating "scientific adventure," journalist Nestor (Deep) follows the clues that connect breath to health. After several bouts with pneumonia and resultant breathing problems, Nestor enters a Stanford University experiment that involves spending 10 days breathing with his nostrils plugged, and another 10 with his mouth taped shut. The results are eye-opening: mouth breathing increases his snoring and sleep apnea, and causes raised blood pressure and other issues. His investigation also leads him to a breathing class in Haight-Ashbury, a yoga studio in S o Paulo, and to a conversation with a dental researcher, who points out that the skulls of ancient humans have wider airways and perfect teeth. (Subsequently, Nestor learns that the industrialization of the food supply led to softer foods, less vigorous chewing, and thus crooked teeth and narrow airways.) Frequency of breath is crucial; while science reveals that the ideal rate is 5.5 breaths per minute, many people breathe too fast. Nestor argues that proper breathing, though not a panacea, is an important component of preventative health maintenance. While the process of breathing may seem like a no-brainer, Nestor's fascinating treatise convincingly asserts that it's easy to get wrong, and vital to get right.