Breath by James Nestor (chapter by chapter summary and analysis of breath)


In our health and well-being nothing is more needed than breathing. We breathe 25,000 times a day, and each breath affects our anxiety level, blood pressure, and heart rate.

This book, Breath demonstrates that people can no longer breathe appropriately. The loss of this ability has affected our physical health and things like the shape of our jaws. Nestor traces men and women who utilize the science behind ancient breathing methods such as Pranayama, Tummo and Sudarshan Kriya. He also puts his own body to the test by willingly participating in new experiments that examine the effects of breathing techniques.

Breath is James Nestor’s year 2020 book subtitled, The New Science of a Lost Art. You can pick up a copy from Amazon.

About James Nestor

James Nestor is an author and a journalist who has written for various publications. James writes not only for several magazines but also for leading magazines like the New York Times. His first publication was Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science and What the Ocean Tell Us about Ourselves. This revolutionary book was a finalist for the 2015 ESPN Award for Literature Sports Writing. It was also named Amazon’s Best Science Book for 2014.


If you are like most people, you most likely don’t think much about breathing. I mean, why should you? Your body does it for you naturally, without you having to say it.

It turns out, however, that there are many different ways of inefficiently breathing. In James Nestor’s book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, we explore ways you can learn to breathe correctly and change your life.

You will discover the unexpected power of the breath that Western medicine seems to have forgotten. By changing how or how you breathe, you can do everything from increasing your energy to getting rid of diseases like high blood pressure.

And, yes! breathing is a fascinating and helpful guide to understanding the science of breathing, including how doing it slowly and through the nose is best for your lungs and body; and lots of proven physical and mental benefits of being more mindful when you inhale and exhale.

Don’t hold your breath; you are so close to discovering some great health science from this book.

Are you ready? Lets go!

Breathe Through Your Nose, Not Your Mouth

Almost half of all people breathe chronically through their mouths and are thus chronically stressed and exhausted. James Nestor describes how breathing through the nose can activate other hormones in the body than breathing through the mouth. James offers a variety of studies that support the benefits of breathing through the nose. Breathing through your nose, in particular, can lower blood pressure, help maintain a stable heart rate, and even strengthen your memory. However, mouth breathing is the biggest predictor of tooth decay. Therefore, breathing through your mouth has a greater impact on the risk of tooth decay than sugar and not brushing your teeth. In addition, Nestor connects our regularly misaligned jaws with mouth breathing. Of the 5,400 species of mammals, humans are the only ones to suffer from common jaw misalignments.

In the book, James explains how he put this hypothesis to the test. He decided to conduct an experimental study in collaboration with the Sinus Center at Stanford University. James offered himself as a test person. He wanted to really see what would happen to his body if he only breathed through his mouth for a month. Nayak, a professional sinus control center, was constantly measuring James’ vital signs. Even though the experiment would take a month, James could only last ten days. His blood pressure increased 20 points on the first day.

Also, James does not snore, but he started to snore 4 hours a night. James also developed sleep apnea. This sleep apnea kept the oxygen level in the blood at 90%. Therefore, they must be between 95 and 100%. However, these results were not temporary; his friend participated in the experiment and had almost identical results.

Immediate after some hours of breathing through his nose, James Nestor felt better again. He had greater mental clarity, and his physical actions returned to normal. Thenceforward, James decided on shutting his mouth with a tape while he slept. This little tape would force him to breathe through his nose while he slept. He could still cough or speak while wearing that little duct tape, but it stimulated nasal breathing. After just some days of nasal breathing in his sleep, James reduced his snoring time from 4 hours a night to just 10 minutes a night. The most important thing is that James woke up feeling refreshed.

The benefits of nasal breathing relate to the way it purifies, warms, humidifies, and applies pressure to the air. These changes in the air increase oxygen uptake by about 10-15%. In addition, nasal breathing increases nitric oxide levels six-fold. James explains that nitric oxide is linked to better blood circulation. Better blood circulation is associated with more energy throughout the day. James also encourages you to sometimes make a little noise in your throat when you breathe in through your nose. This exercise can give you an extra boost in nitric oxide. Alternatively, you can hum while exhaling while breathing through your nose. James Nestor explains that humming on exhalation has been connected to a 15-fold more increase in nitric-oxide levels.

Ways You Can Use To Reduce Nasal Congestion

Many people find it difficult to breathe through their nose because it is blocked. However, there are some ways you can use to reduce nasal congestion.

* Breathe out through your nose

* Pinch your nose and hold your breath. Shake your head left and right to distract your thoughts off, holding your breath if it feels difficult.

* When you feel a strong desire to breathe, breathe slowly and in a controlled manner through your nose

* Repeat this exercise until you can conveniently breathe in and out through your nose

Breathe Less Instead Of More

When you breathe fewer breaths per minute, you absorb more carbon dioxide. Greater and higher levels of carbon dioxide in the body are associated with greater consumption of oxygen. This is because the oxygen molecules that migrate through red blood cells want to reach parts of the body with high carbon dioxide levels. When oxygen molecules depart an individual’s bloodstream to reach a tissue cell, a carbon dioxide molecule leaves the cell and ascends into the bloodstream. James illustrates that optimal levels of carbon dioxide stimulate optimal levels of oxygen absorption.

The easiest way to increase carbon dioxide levels in your body is to breathe easier and less often. The average American takes in 18 breaths per minute. Try to breathe only six times per minute, as studies have shown that it can increase carbon dioxide levels by up to 25%.

Symmetrical Inhales And Exhales Provide Maximum Benefit

James has tried various breathing techniques over the years. Oftentimes, the best technique depends on whether you are exercising, relaxing, or trying to sleep. Although James admits he hasn’t come up with a magic bullet, he thinks a few techniques are more effective. One of them is symmetrical breathing. James suggests inhaling for 5.5 seconds, then exhaling through your nose for 5.5 seconds. This means approximately 5.5 breaths per minute. These breathing patterns are the same as those used in religious songs such as Buddhism. Additionally, James cites testimonials supporting the health benefits of this type of breathing. For example, it helps the heart rate to become more stable.

Breathing Out Slowly Can Help You Relax

If you measure your heart as you breathe in, you will find that your heart is beating faster. When you exhale or breathe out, your heart rate slows down. Exhalation is a parasympathetic response which is important in the conservation of energy. Parasympathetic reactions slow down the body’s automatic response system. When you breathe in, your diaphragm sinks and draws blood into your chest cavity. As you breathe out, blood flows back into your body, calming your state of mind.

We tend to breathe quickly once we are anxious or stressed. However, James describes that this type of breathing is not efficient. When we breathe quickly, our lungs only absorb about a quarter of the oxygen we breathe. At that point the rest of the oxygen(O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) is exhaled.

Our Lungs Can Be Strengthened Like Muscles

Many people believe that the lungs they were born with cannot be changed. However, this is far from the truth. For example, free drivers have a much larger lung capacity than the average person. Herbert Nitsch is a perfect example. Herbert has a lung volume of 14 liters, more than double that of the average person. This is because he was not born with big lungs; instead, he trained his lungs’ capacity. As a result, it improved lung capacity by training the lungs like a muscle. To enhance the capacity of your lungs, you should focus on moderate exercises such as walking or cycling. Also, every now and then, do a few exercises to help you breathe more deeply and increase your heart rate. James expresses how these simple changes can increase the size of your lungs by up to 15%. Plus, trying to breathe deeply will also help increase lung capacity.

Anxiety And Shallow Breathing Are Linked

Shallow breaths and Shortness of breath are our butter & bread. Our ancestors survived on this breath, and we still breathe that way today. However, that does not signify that they are optimal. Shallow breathing will limit the range of our membranes and the capacity of our lungs. For example, the average adult uses only 10 percent of their membrane. This breathing leads to poor posture and breathing problems. Plus, it can overload your heart and keep you in a constant state of low-grade stress and anxiety. Anxiety can promote shallow breathing. Then, shallow breathing can make you anxious. Therefore, utilizing abdomen breathing can help retrain you to breathe more deeply.

“Take A Deep Breath” Is Not Just An Adage

James urges readers to visualize themselves in a boat. If you do a lot of short, shallow strokes, you will achieve this, but you will not be maximizing your effectiveness. Instead, deep, long strokes will help you get there faster and with less effort. You want to make it as easy as possible for your body. Therefore, deep, long breathing is more efficient and less tiring on your lungs.

To Live Longer, Breathe Less

James Nestor informs readers that the animals that live the longest have the lowest heart rates. Importantly, this low heart rate is linked to a lower respiratory rate. Therefore, animals that breathe the least live the longest. Respiration and longevity are proportional throughout the animal kingdom. For example, elephants are among the longest-living animals, breathing only four to five breaths per minute. Likewise, alligators only breathe one breath per minute.

In comparison, dogs, cats, and mice breathe much more per minute. Subsequently, they live much shorter than elephants and alligators. Thus, humans fall somewhere between elephants/alligators and cats/dogs in terms of breathing and longevity.

3 Most Revealing Lessons On Breathing

  1. It’s a lot healthier to breathe from the nose than via the mouth.
  2. Slow, shallow breathing can have impressive health benefits.
  3. In the West, we still have more to learn about breathing and health.

Revealing Lessons One

To unlock natural health benefits, Start exhaling via your nose.

Anyone who has seen the popular Netflix series Stranger Things is familiar with the term “mouth breathing.” Breathing in your mouth is not only scary to hear, but it is also dangerous for your health! It turns out that breathing through your nose is the definitive path.

After an operation that temporarily blocked his nasal passages, Nestor experienced a 13 point increase in blood pressure within a few weeks. Not only was he more prone to stroke, but he also had a faster heart rate and felt terrible. This is an example of what a thing as harmless as breathing out of your mouth can do.

It’s estimated that around half of us breathe mainly through our mouths for many reasons, such as medical problems or environmental pollution. But did you know that breathing through your nose filters warms and humidifies the air you breathe? It also releases chemicals that regulate your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.

Researchers have found that excessive mouth breathing changes the shape of your face. In a shocking experiment, scientists sealed the noses of lab monkeys. For two years, he documented how their mouths changed, and their teeth became crooked. The shape of the head was also changed!

Revealing Lessons Two

Slowing down breathing offers unexpected health benefits.

Realizing the health benefits of breathing can be as easy as breathing a little slower. You don’t even have to breathe deeply. Science says shallow breathing for 5.5 seconds in and 5.5 seconds out is best.

As we move to the molecular level, we know why. When we breathe, we take in oxygen, which binds to red blood cells. These oxygen molecules pass through our body and are used by our cells and converted for carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is thereafter released from the body when you breathe out.

But carbon dioxide is a lot more than just waste. It helps filter oxygen from blood cells and also plays a major role in signaling that the blood vessels dilate, which also signifies they can carry a lot more blood.

This means that when we breathe heavily, we emit more carbon dioxide, which decreases blood flow. For this reason, hyperventilation and exercise can help you feel more comfortable. On the other hand, breathing slowly helps maintain carbon dioxide levels in your blood, which is more efficient.

James Nestor urges us to breathe a lot slowly and less deeply for these bases. You don’t have to worry about slow, shallower breathing without enough oxygen. Our lungs are surprisingly efficient and do not need to be completely filled with each breath.

Revealing Lessons Three

Western culture still largely ignores the importance of breathing.

Ancient Eastern cultures have been practicing breathing techniques for millennia, but the Western culture still mainly ignores the importance of breathing.

Recently, people in the West have embraced the power of conscious breathing, but Western society as a whole is still far behind. For example, a lot of doctors don’t take it seriously.

Elsewhere in the world, ancient traditions have created wisdom on the breath of common knowledge. Some examples are Swami Rama and the performers of the Tummo show. Ancient practices like this offer a more integrated way of thinking about breathing.

In ancient Indian culture, there is something called Prana, and in China it is known as Ch’i. The two things are the same idea of ​​energy swirling around everything in the universe. It mainly focuses on living things. They believe that if one is to stay healthy, one must receive Prana through traditional methods. This is where and how we get acupuncture and yoga because they are designed to keep the flow of prana stable. But the most powerful means of all is to simply inspire.

The ancient practice of yoga as described in the yoga sutras of 500 BC. characterizes a yoga practice with very little movement. Surprisingly, it was more about standing still and building up Prana through the breath. It is a question of gradually building Prana over many years.

Given how fundamental this knowledge is in many Eastern cultures, it is surprising that modern science cares so little about something as essential as breathing. But unfortunately, if we are in the health field, we have not evolved in breathing techniques, which is a shame because Nestor learns that he can do everything from changing body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure to fighting infections. 

Final Analysis

It is to change the way you breathe, which has remarkably powerful effects. Breathing slowly and shallowly through your nose and using the diaphragm properly can do wonders for your health. It is the potential to take things further and achieve superhuman success with the power of breathing.

Be calm in your breathing.

I am starting to go down the rabbit hole in this science now because this book is so interesting. Breath is fascinating, informative, helpful, and, yes, refreshing! So, if you are looking for an easy way to improve your health today, this is it!

No time for a suitable meditation or yoga class? It’s ok. The easiest thing you can do to calm yourself down is to consider your breathing. Breathe in and out for 5.5 seconds for five or ten minutes each day.

Who Should Read This Book, Breath?

You might want to know who to recommend this summary and analysis of breath to?

See below for the perfect answer:

The 61 year old who is overweight and wants to learn simple ways to be healthier, the 27 year old who wonders why prayer and meditation are so good in helping people mentally and physically and anyone with lungs.

We’re just scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have the original book, “BREATH: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor, order it here on Amazon to learn the juicy details.

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