Breath: The New Science of A Lost Art


James Nestor

I had heard about the book titled Breath: The New Science of A Lost Art by James Nestor from listening to a podcast. The book had been recommended by several of the podcast guests as well as hosts. I placed an order for an audio book on my Libby app and could not believe how long the wait was – several months. When I finally received the book as soon as I opened it up, I thought, “Why have I ordered this book? This might be too touchy feely for my tastes.”

I told myself I would listen for ten minutes and then could ditch the book if I didn’t like it. Obviously, I am writing a review, so I listened to the entire book. I am glad I gave this book a chance. The premise of the book is that humans experience many health conditions due to improper breathing – particularly breathing through the mouth. Nestor says that we have too much carbon dioxide in our systems as we are improperly and ineffectively expelling our breath. Furthermore, he says that our heads and faces have changed over the years as a result of mouth breathing. The reshaping of our heads has resulted in many issues. Nestor also talks about the negative impact of certain dental procedures that serve to make out mouths smaller.

Critics of the book say that Nestor is not sufficiently relying on science and that he is heavily focused on one-off incidents and ancient practices. While I agree with these critics that the science is light, I do believe that proper breathing might be causing medical issues and I could relate to some of the examples he shared. At the end of the audio book there were breathing exercises to try which I did. I found these exercises to be helpful and calming.

I had not previously thought about breathing as part of a ongoing health plan but now I do. If you are interested in improving your health, I would read this book and choose those practices or approaches that feel right to you.