Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (Review)

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James Nestor knows a thing or two about science. He is a 2014 Amazon Best Science Book and 2015 PEN/ESPN award finalist for Literary Sports writing. In his latest work he tackles the one and only action that unifies all of mankind, the act of breathing. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (Riverhead Books) focuses on our everyday actions that play a role in our breathing.

As much as you can control your breathing for the activity you’re engaged in, breathing is rather subconscious. Breath makes you realize that despite diets, age, exercise, race or ethnicity, we are all identical when it comes to taking a breath. Nestor correctly points out that nothing else in the world matters if you are not breathing correctly. Therefore, taking a proper breath and essential breathing techniques are crucial in an ever changing world. It is a simple action that takes 3.3 seconds and occurs over 20,000 times a day. Unfortunately, humans have lost the ability to perform this task correctly.A

James Nestor (c) Julie Floersch

The most shocking revelation in Breath is how Nestor identified the power of breathing. The book’s introduction explains how he attended a class and felt something change. Simple breathing exercises motivated him to travel the world and learn how proper breathing was utilized as a medicinal technique. Nestor carefully addresses the common consensus that research and science have all the answers. He explains that the secrets of breathing don’t lie with pulmonologists or in research labs, but in rural sites all over the world.

The unique element of this book lies in Nestor’s methodology of testing what has been known for some time. After learning that scientists and researchers don’t have all the answers, he tries techniques passed down from generations and learns about the importance of breathing first-hand. Furthermore, he tests his newfound knowledge using the scientific method. As a result, he learns how simple minor adjustments to the way we breathe can help boost a person’s everyday life-style.

Breath provides a new perspective of modern day technology and how we’ve unknowingly abandoned the answers we’ve always had. James Nestor artfully brings back what modern society has walked away from by combining ancestral techniques and new age technology in one elegant book. He forces you to make that subconscious act of breathing into a conscious thought provoking action. What was once a 3.3 second subconscious action becomes the most conscious action you’ll repeat till the day you die.

Purchase a copy of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

WORDS: Indira Purushothaman

IMAGE SOURCE: Riverhead Books

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