Trees and other plants converting carbon dioxide to oxygen to produce fresh air

It’s About Breathing After All


31 Days of Resolutions – Day 2

Breathe: The New Science of a Lost Art is the title of James Nestor’s 2020 best-seller about breathing.

It’s an ironic title for a book published in 2020, as the term “ventilator” became a common vocabulary word for most of us.

I became familiar with the book while listening to Terry Gross interview Nestor on “Fresh Air.” (You can listen to the interview here.)

Since my husband’s breathing has always been an issue, I decided to order him a copy of the book. Being a Doubting Thomas, he took the book with little enthusiasm.

But then he started talking to me about what he read. And he finished the book and gave it back to me, suggesting that I would like it.

He was right.

“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.”

That’s how the inside flap of the book jacket begins, and it’s Nestor’s main point.

His extensive journey into the art of breathing is greatly impacted by a simple experiment: he breathes only through his mouth for ten days.

Nestor describes the mechanics of the experiment and its effect on his physical health and mental well-being. It isn’t pretty, putting it mildly.

But Nestor doesn’t stop at the experiment, its outcomes, or his resolutions. He then goes on to explore the history of humankind’s efforts to control breathing as a health benefit.

His revelations are compelling. And with a lot of time on my hands during quarantine, I had nothing but time.

Breathing What the Nose Knows

I learned that the tissue inside our noses is the same tissue that covers our sex organs, and noses get erections (What!), that nose hair density can predict who will suffer from asthma, and that slowing the inhale and the exhale are equally important.

How you breathe can determine how well you sleep, your anxiety level, your fitness, your weight, and dozens of health-related issues. We’ve known this for thousands of years.

You can act prophylactically or in response to current health problems by learning and practicing breathing techniques, and Nestor does an extensive job of exploring and describing them.

I swear that this has helped my respiratory and sleeping issues immensely. I’ve recovered some of my lost exercise levels. I’ve avoided the inhaler.

Best of all, it didn’t cost a thing beyond the price of the book.

I’m not selling snake oil, and neither is Nestor. Learning to breathe does not replace modern medicine. But if you suffer from a general feeling of unwell or want to stay at the best health level possible, learning to breathe properly won’t do anything but good.

You can learn and practice breathing control via the Internet. Check out tomorrow’s post for some free and practical YouTube lessons.

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