Breath

The New Science of a Lost Art
by James Nestor | 304 pages

Breath. It’s the missing pillar in health. We’ve been talking about this for years and we’ve included breathing among our fundamentals since I first read Patrick McKeown’s The Oxygen Advantage. And, I just LOVE the way James captures the importance of breathing in this book. The first words on the inside flap of the book deliver the point with a sledgehammer: “No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or strong you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly.” Big Ideas we explore include how to breathe optimally and why it's so important, the #1 tip, oral posture (how's yours?) and the perfect breath (think 5.5 + 5.5 for 5.5!).


“Few of these scientists set out to study breathing. But, somehow, in some way, breathing kept finding them. They discovered that our capacity to breathe has changed through the long process of human evolution, and that the way we breathe has gotten markedly worse since the dawn of the Industrial Age. They discovered that 90 percent of us—very likely me, you, and almost everyone you know—is breathing incorrectly and that this failure is either causing or aggravating a laundry list of chronic diseases.

On a more inspiring note, some of these researchers were also showing that many modern maladies—asthma, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, psoriasis, and more—could either be reduced or reversed simply by changing the way we inhale and exhale.

This work was upending long-held beliefs in Western medical science. Yes, breathing in different patterns really can influence our body weight and overall health. Yes, how we breathe really does affect the size and function of our lungs. Yes, breathing allows us to hack into our own nervous system, control our immune response, and restore our health. Yes, changing how we breathe can help us live longer.

No matter what we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how skinny or young or wise we are—none of it will matter unless we’re breathing correctly. That’s what these researchers discovered. The missing pillar in health is breath. It all starts here.”

~ James Nestor from Breath

Breath.

It’s the missing pillar in health.

We’ve been talking about this for years and we’ve included breathing among our fundamentals since I first read Patrick McKeown’s The Oxygen Advantage (see Breathing 101 and Notes on Breathe, Perfect Breathing, The Healing Power of the Breath, Breathe In Breathe Out, and Anxiety Free) but I just LOVE the way James captures the importance of breathing in this book.

The first words on the inside flap of the book deliver the point with a sledgehammer: “No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or strong you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly.”

James Nestor has written for Outside, Scientific American, The Atlantic and The New York Times. He’s a fantastic writer and brilliantly imparts the wisdom we need to a) take our breathing seriously and b) Optimize it. I highly recommend the book. It now rivals The Oxygen Advantage as my go-to recommendation on the subject. (Get a copy here.)

As always, the book is packed with Big Ideas and, as always, I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

James Nestor

Journalist, and author of DEEP and Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art