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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Best Seller

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 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.

©2020 James Nestor (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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What listeners say about Breath

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Save yourself about 6.5 hours of story telling

Jump to the end of this “story book” and practice the last 30m of breathing techniques. I’m sure you’ll find them beneficial as they are based on ancient truths and wisdom. Alternatively can listen to the author creatively express his insight and research (i.e opinion) on evolution and devolution that caused us to stop breathing correctly. Bonus, you can also listen to him colorfully discuss, in vivid detail, his experimental work closing his nostrils with silicone plugs (not silicon) and all the negative (and gross) implications to prove what we know- breathing through the mouth isn’t conducive to health.

190 people found this helpful

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Does NOT coincide with Book text

Although read by the author, which is often a positive, this audiobook reading varies significantly from the book text. Every paragraph is different in one or multiple ways, making reading along difficult. The audio version often skips entire paragraphs, leaving out key information. Annoying.

146 people found this helpful

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Utterly fascinating

I have a bad back and learned from physical therapist how to breath properly and it actually helped. Then I go to a couple different group events around food and wellbeing and sure enough they teach us to breath where I also learned of anders Ollson and conscious breathing. Randomly found out about this book on NPR fresh air. It is utterly fascinating and reinforces everything i learned prior to this. I couldn’t stop listening. I have back, sleep and brain fog issues. I definitely plan to up my breathing game.

68 people found this helpful

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Waited 3 years for this, worth it!!!

Terrific read, it confirmed a lot of theories of mine on breath, training, yoga, and love.

Nestor owns the subject and communicates wisdom, insight, and healing through a sea of seemingly unrelated stories. Renegade scientists railing against the National Institute for Health's oversight blend into Swedish playboy scientists weave into eccentric British colonels who discover the secret to eternal life and youth as Ave Maria and Om Padme On echo against the walls of the readers riveted mind. Artists leave high society to live with tall, beautiful, orthodontically perfect native Americans who raise children better than homo modernis.

I want to read this book slowly enough to crawl through the bibliography; it is a novel containing multiple reads and practices that will heal it's readers. Enjoy!

47 people found this helpful

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Interesting

While I did find parts of this book interesting. I felt like 'correct breathing' was being treated as a cure-all for everything. There is a disclaimer near the end of the book that addresses that and states that it won't cure all your ills, but I still feel that 'curing all your ills' was the premise of the book. I also felt that it ran on a little long. Did we really need a blow by blow of what it is like to stuff silicone plugs up your nose for an extended period of time? And was anyone surprised that this was a bad thing to do for your health?

44 people found this helpful

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Shut your mouth and raise your CO2 tolerance.

Convincing arguments for improving oral health and immune system, lowering anxiety/asthma symptoms, and looking beautiful.

41 people found this helpful

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EXCELLENT read, entertaining AND informative

I can't say enough about this book or its author, James Nestor. I heard him talk on the NPR podcast Fresh Air, and was really interested in what he had to say about breathing, how it really is a lost art, and how throughout ancient history people always took breath into account in everyday life and even healing practices - something that we modern day people don't even think of, maybe for their whole lives. I bought the audible book and have listened to it three times in a row, and know its a book I will keep coming back to. The message is amazing, especially for someone who deals with modern day illnesses (autoimmune) and anxiety. He approaches the topic very scientifically, but also with entertaining anecdotes about each sub-topic, there were several jaw-drop moments for me. He also has a GREAT voice, and is really nice to listen to! Honestly, he just seems like an overall great guy, like someone you'd like to meet or get to know. I have started incorporating a few of the breathing exercises into my daily life, especially the slow breathing, and I can immediately notice a calming effect and reduction in my anxiety. I would give 10 stars if I could.

38 people found this helpful

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Scientific Book

I found this very interesting. I had been doing the very first steps of Wim Hof's breathing exercises, and this book gives me some more understanding into what is going on. It also gives a lot more information. I am going to listen to this book more than once because there is a lot of things I want to remember.

35 people found this helpful

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What a fascinating story 🌟

As a writer, yoga teacher and breath coach, I’m beyond IN-SPIRED and impressed. 🙏🏻 This book is truly a piece of art. 📔 I will refer back to it - again and again. 🎧 Thank you so much, James Nestor, for putting down the hours, the hard work and all of the uncomfortable breaths it took to create this masterpiece. I truly appreciate it.

27 people found this helpful

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So worthwhile!!

The book is great!! Highly recommended. I loved the mix of historical as well as modern information to show us what should be and perhaps is obvious, breathing is important. Left me asking, why aren’t we putting more emphasis on breath!!?

24 people found this helpful