A reading club with a view to the future

466 James Nestor: Breath

“Breath” explores the importance of conscious breathing and how it can improve our overall health, well-being, and performance by tapping into the lost wisdom of ancient breathing practices and the latest scientific research.



In "Breath," James Nestor takes readers on a captivating journey to discover the untapped potential of conscious breathing. Drawing from his personal experiences, interviews with experts, and extensive research, Nestor reveals the impact of our modern lifestyle on breathing and presents practical techniques to optimize our breathing habits for better physical and mental health. The book explores various breathing techniques, their historical significance, and the scientific evidence supporting their benefits.


  1. Title: "Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art" 
  2. Author: James Nestor 
  3. Publishing Year: 2020 
  4. Publisher: Riverhead Books 
  5. Length in Hours: 7 hrs and 18 mins

5 main ideas

  1. The Importance of Proper Breathing: Nestor emphasizes how our modern lifestyle, including sedentary habits, mouth breathing, and stress, has compromised our natural breathing patterns and negatively impacted our health. He highlights the need to relearn proper breathing techniques for optimal well-being.
  2. Ancient Wisdom and Breathing Practices: The book delves into ancient breathing practices from different cultures and traditions, such as pranayama, Tummo, and freediving, showcasing their profound effects on physical and mental performance.
  3. The Science of Breathing: Nestor explores the scientific research behind breathing and its impact on various body systems, including the respiratory system, cardiovascular health, sleep, stress response, and cognitive function.
  4. Breathing and Sleep: The book examines the link between breathing and quality sleep, discussing the role of breathing techniques in improving sleep disorders, such as snoring, sleep apnea, and insomnia.
  5. Practical Breathing Techniques: Nestor provides practical exercises and techniques that readers can incorporate into their daily lives to improve breathing efficiency, increase oxygenation, reduce stress, and enhance overall health and performance.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Mouth-breathing was something we were all taught not to do as kids, right up there with running with scissors and putting our elbows on the table."
  2. "It was easy to inhale but a struggle to exhale, as if the breath were a wild stallion and my nostrils its narrow chute."
  3. "As far as I know, the only other animal that consistently sleeps on its back is the opossum. And opossums don't have to worry about snoring."
  4. "Breathing is one of those rare physiological functions that we can control voluntarily or let run on autopilot."
  5. "Breathing through my nose felt like breathing through a coffee stirrer."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The average person spends more than eleven hours a day with their face in a screen."
  2. "We breathe through our noses, but should we? For the majority of us, the answer is a breath-defying 'No.'"
  3. "Learning to breathe properly is like learning to walk or write. You can do it, but it requires practice."
  4. "Just as food is fuel for the body, so too is breath fuel for the brain."
  5. "Breathing slowly through the nose during exercise is one of the best ways to increase endurance and protect the body from burnout."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing the Use of Modern Technology: The book explores the dilemma of relying on technological advancements while acknowledging the potential negative impact on breathing patterns and overall health.
  2. Adapting Ancient Practices to Modern Lifestyles: The challenge of incorporating ancient breathing practices into modern routines and finding ways to make them accessible and practical for individuals with busy lives.
  3. Overcoming Social Stigma: Addressing the stigma around conscious breathing and the perception that it may seem unconventional or unnecessary in mainstream society.
  4. Balancing Personalized Approaches: Navigating the individuality of breathing patterns and finding the right techniques that work for each person's unique physiology and needs.
  5. Overcoming Resistance to Change: The struggle individuals may face when trying to break old breathing habits and embrace new techniques, especially if they have become accustomed to suboptimal breathing patterns.

5 examples

  1. Patrick McKeown: An expert in the Buteyko Method, a breathing technique focused on reducing breathing volume to optimize health and performance.
  2. Stig Severinsen: A world-record-holding freediver who explores the power of breath-holding and its effects on the body and mind.
  3. Wim Hof: Known as "The Iceman," Hof developed the Wim Hof Method, combining breathwork, cold exposure, and meditation to tap into the body's potential.
  4. Stanford University: Nestor explores research conducted at Stanford University on the relationship between mouth breathing, sleep disorders, and facial structure.
  5. Bhutanese Monks: Nestor encounters Bhutanese monks who practice Tummo, a breathing technique associated with raising body temperature and producing heat.

Referenced books

  1. "The Oxygen Advantage: Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques to Help You Become Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter" by Patrick McKeown
  2. "The Wedge: Evolution, Consciousness, Stress, and the Key to Human Resilience" by Scott Carney
  3. "The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease" by Daniel E. Lieberman
  4. "The Art of Breath: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Athletes" by Rob Wilson and Brian MacKenzie
  5. "Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists" by Thomas W. Myers

Share a quote

"Breathing is one of those rare physiological functions that we can control voluntarily or let run on autopilot."

Become a NextBook Insider

Join our community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.