Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times Bestseller
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2020
"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 S o 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.
"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." Publishers Weekly
"Although we all breathe, there is an art and science to breathing correctly...Full of fascinating information an compelling arguments, this eye-opening (or more aptly a mouth-closing and nostril-opening) work is highly recommended." Library Journal
"A welcome, invigorating user's manual for the respiratory system." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
James Nestor has written for Outside, Scientific American, The Atlantic, Dwell, The New York Times, and many other publications. His book Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves was a finalist for the 2015 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing, an Amazon Best Science Book of 2014, and more. Nestor has appeared on dozens of national television shows, including ABC's Nightline and CBS's Morning News, and on NPR. He lives and breathes in San Francisco.