Recently I read an incredible book and weeks after I finished it my head is still spinning. The book is called “Breath” by James Nestor. The sub-title of the book is, “The new science of a lost art,” and I must admit, this was mostly new information to me.
James Nestor is a journalist who’s written about freedivers in his book, “Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves.”
He’s also written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and Scientific American, among others. His book “Deep,” follows a group of extreme athletes where they challenge the limits of their body and discover it’s capabilities by deep diving in the ocean.
His latest book, “Breath,” is bound to be an even bigger hit. It’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read, mostly because I’ve struggled with many of the topics discussed in the book as it relates to breathing.
From mouth breathing to the history of the human skull and teeth formation, the book left me wondering many times, “why is this the first time I’m hearing this?”
The book begins by making the case for why humans are terrible breathers, which hardly anyone could argue. Stop any person on the street and they would most likely admit to feelings of anxiety, discomfort, or shortness of breath at least weekly, if not daily.
James gets right to the start of breathing where he focuses on a person’s air intake. Namely, where you intake air into your body.
Mouth breathing has been used as a negative connotation for the ignorant or stupid for decades. In the book, James describes his own experiment where he plugs his nose for ten days and only breathes through his mouth so he can monitor the detrimental health effects.
He also touches on something incredibly interesting to me. As a long-time runner who’s completed a handful of full marathons, this part of the book hit me like a brick.
James talked with a top fitness coach from the 1970s, Phil Maffetone. Phil has worked with some of the top athletes in the world and found some of the standard workout routines to be more dangerous than beneficial.
By focusing more on individual heart rates to target the aerobic zone, you can be more efficient, burn more fat, and recover faster.
By breathing through your mouth when exercising the heart is pumping faster and not as efficient as nose breathing. For a combination of factors, stamina, performance, and recovery are directly affected by your heart-rate during exercise, which can be altered by the in-taking air either through your nose or your mouth.
Maybe I’m in the minority and have simply been living under a rock for the last twenty years, but I’m almost ashamed to admit, this was all news to me.
I’m not necessarily a young person, and I’m not a new follower of health and wellness literature. I’ve been perusing self-help and self-improvement publications for decades now.
This leaves me to utter bewilderment as to how I’ve not come across much of the information in Nestor’s book. It’s quite possibly because some of the topics in the book have haunted me nearly my entire life. But I’ve dealt with these health issues, or should I say, annoyances, to the best of my ability.
It’s the thought that there are millions of people out there like myself, but are yet to read the book, that gives me the feeling that this book could be absolutely vital in turning around people’s thinking on health and wellness.
The book continues on, page after page of astounding historical instances proving how misunderstood the function of breathing is in our modern-day world.
I can’t help but agree with him. James walks us down different paths he traveled once he dove into the topic of breathing. He mentions in the book it did not lead him to where he assumed it would.
At one point, he finds himself underground in Paris digging through a pile of human skulls. I’m not going to give away much more of the book because I thoroughly enjoyed reading every minute of it. I really hope you order the book as well.
It’s really unbelievable how potentially life-changing information can be at your fingertips and not even realize it.
This book has the potential to help millions of people all over the world. One of the most incredible things is most of the information is not new.
Packaged in an easy to read format along with personal health struggles and experiments, James Nestor did a wonderful job at laying out a critical health topic.
If only there’s a way to get this information to everyone right now, we could begin a healing process from so much suffering out there. I can make this claim because I’ve lived through it.