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Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

by James Nestor

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4472243,406 (3.94)16
  1. 00
    The Oxygen Advantage: The Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques for a Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter You by Patrick McKeown (caimanjosh)
    caimanjosh: Both works delve heavily into the science of breathing. McKeown's book is heavily based on Buteyko's work and goes into much detail on it; Nestor's is more wide-ranging. I'd highly recommend both.
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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
My wife's doctor recommended this book saying that it changed her life. We both read it right away and it did not disappoint! ( )
  imagists | Sep 19, 2021 |
He puts forth hypotheses that are easy enough to test whether they make any particular kind of difference in my individual life, so I figure why not just test them? In this way the book is memetic. If I’m trying out old gum and taping my mouth shut, I’m probably going to talk about it with other people, which invites the question: what the fuck are you doing that for? Fair.

The chewing thing makes sense, that mastication would lead to bone growth in the maxillas, which could—__could__—help my sinus issues. Same for the sleeping with my mouth shut. My childhood experience with sinus infections, getting an allergy to an antibiotic because of overuse, chest X-rays every six weeks for years and years, all that led to a frustration with my sinuses, that meant that I would prefer to breathe through my mouth, which just perpetuated the likelihood of my breathing out of my mouth more—it made it a habit, one that reinforces itself. That tracks, I think. I know that I do feel better when I breath from my nose, when I exhale more in an intentional way, when I breathe slowly. All these things are ways I’ve found of calming myself, of soothing myself. So it makes sense that there’s folks out there who think that this is a part of some kind of way of transcending modernity through “the wisdom of the ancients” or some such alluring promise of deliverance by lost knowledge. That last step is where I grow uncomfortable, but the rest of it seems harmless enough, and offers just enough for me to make inferences about my own life and how little interventions could improve it.

It certainly can’t hurt to breathe more through my nose, and that’s the slack I give the book; it’s not hurting people with its material recommendations. Some of the other stuff, particularly the appeals to evolution, are shaky. The worst offense is how it castigates processed food and the rise of the industrial revolution with the changes, though I think it also wants to make some cases about agriculture? It doesn’t make many strong claims. But it does seem to be trying to say something like: "We don’t chew right or enough, so our skulls don’t develop right, which is wrong." Which is one step away from saying that the technological inventions that enable so many more people to live rather than die as children is somehow _bad_. And I have a problem with that kind of argument. It’s very close to evolutionary humanism, which is very close to eugenics.
  jtth | Aug 17, 2021 |
Interesting. Some info and insights seem well supported, others less so. Plenty to experiment with. ( )
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
Scattershot claims and descriptions intertwined with a not particularly interesting self-experiment in forced mouth-breathing. ( )
  brett.sovereign | Jul 10, 2021 |
This was an interesting book that delves into the health benefits of breathing through the nose and breathing slowly. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Jun 19, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Nestorprimary authorall editionscalculated
Olsson, AndersNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The patient arrived, pale and torpid, at 9:32 a.m. Male, middle-aged, 175 pounds. Talkative and friendly but visibly anxious. Pain: none. Fatigue: a little. Level of anxiety: moderate. Fears about progression and future symptoms: high.
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During the first trial, Douillard told the athletes to breathe entirely through their mouths. As the intensity increased, so did the rate of breathing, which was expected. By the time athletes reached the hardest stage of the test, pedaling out 200 watts of power, they were panting and struggling to catch a breath.
Then Douillard repeated the test while the athletes breathed through their noses. As the intensity of exercise increased during this phase, the rate of breathing decreased. At the final, 200-watt stage, one subject who had been mouthbreathing at a rate of 47 breaths per minute was nasal breathing at a rate of 14 breaths a minute. He maintained the same heart rate at which he'd started the test, even though the intensity of the exercise had increased tenfold.
Simply training yourself to breathe through your nose, Douillard reported, could cut total exertion in half and offer huge gains in endurance. The athletes felt invigorated while nasel breathing rather than exhausted. They all swore off breathing through their mouths ever again.
Finding the best heart rate for exercise is easy: subtract your age from 180. The result is the maximum your body can withstand to stay in the aerobic state.
Mouthbreathing causes the body to lose 40 percent more water.
contrary to what most of us might think, no amount of snoring is normal, and no amount of sleep apnea comes without risks of serious health effects.
The right nostril is a gas pedal. When you're inhaling primarily through this channel, circulation speeds up, your body gets hotter, and cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate all increase. This happens because breathing through the right side of the nose activates the sympathetic nervous system, the "fight or flight" mechanism that puts the body in a more elevated state of alertness and readiness. Breathing through the right nostril will also feed more blood to the opposite hemisphere of the brain, specifically to the prefrontal cortex, which has been associated with logical decisions, language, and computing.
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