Breath by James Nestor [Book Summary – Review]


By you, thinking about breath doesn’t take too much time. Well, breathing is important to survive and it’s known by every individual. However, it isn’t a thing that we require to educate or consider, is it? Breathe is the only thing that is done by us.

Get ready to be surprised. Our ability to breathe due to different ways can have a huge effect on our health. Breathing and chewing can configure our face, expand our airways, and assist us to cope with everything from asthma to stress. And what can assist us experience hallucinations or acquire control over our heart rate and body temperature is extreme breathing techniques.

Yet the power of breathing remains interestingly unexplored in Western science.

In this summary, it is a journey into the world of “pulmonauts”, as the writer James Nestor calls it – those who, similar to him, are committed to discovering the incredible power that we can unleash with a basic act of breathing.


Try Audible and Get Two Free AudiobooksOpens in a new tab.



Chapter 1 – Breathing via nose is more useful than breathing with a mouth.


Writer James Nestor’s blood pressure has increased by a mean of 13 points in the past few days, hugely boosting the risk of heart attack or stroke. His heart rate accelerated as his body temperature dropped, and – worst of all – he senses completely bad.

What was the reason for his poverty? Five days ago, by a doctor, silicone plugs in the nostrils were placed and sealed them with tape. Since then, By Nestor, breathing only occurred via his mouth to experience his body’s reaction. In brief? It was like an inferno.

It is predicted that about 50 percent of some of them breathe within their mouth, of which they are the majority. There are many causes for this, involving medicinal conditions, pollution, and even stress. The problem is, that when the more you do this, it gets worse.

Nestor’s chips come out ten days later, and his nose is a calamity. It is very clogged and needs to be cleaned with long cotton swabs. It also harbors a bacterial infection that can become serious. Via tests, it was declared that because of mouth breathing, sleep patterns are demolished- but he already knew this. Worst of all was how bad this experience made him feel.

Hours after his gags were removed, breathing through his nose could be performed by him. That first breath was an extraordinary burst of freshness and relaxation.



The nose does a lot more than you think. It not only breathes but also cleans, warms, and moisturizes. It causes the emission of chemicals that lower blood pressure, regulate heart rate, and much more. You won’t get any of these advantages when you take in unprocessed air from your mouth.

A rather brutal experiment in the 1970s and 1980s yielded harsher results than Nestor’s own experience. By orthodontist and researcher Egil P. Harvold, a group of rhesus monkeys was taken and closed their nostrils with plugs. By him, they were followed closely, taking pictures for up to two years.

Even looking at the photo hurts. The ape’s dental arches narrowed and their teeth warped. This not only influenced their health but also the entire shape of their heads.

However, when they were finally unplugged, their faces were back to normal within six months. The reason for it is all how they breathe.


Chapter 2 – What was evolved in ways that are bad for breathing, is the head of a human.


It’s our problematic relationship with respiration that goes back long before Homo sapiens developed – dating back to 1.7 million years ago when our far ancestors Homo habilis and later Homo erectus began to prepare food before eating.

It was softened by Homo erectus some 800,000 years ago, even before the cooking began, by Homo habilis. Both softening and cooking meant more calories could be digested and more energy extracted from food. Thanks to this extra energy, the brains of these species got bigger. Later, about 300,000 years ago, the speech was improved by their lineage Homo sapiens when the larynx slipped from the throat.

Those with enormous evolutionary advantages are bigger brains and lower larynxes – but it comes at a cost. Our enlarged brain pushed our sinuses and airways into increasingly smaller areas and made our nose more noticeable. More relevantly, these lower larynxes also made us more prone to choking.

Although, the worst hadn’t come yet.



So, for many reasons, what isn’t uniquely appropriate to healthy breathing is human heads. However, for a thousand years we have handled it quite well. Serious problems arose only 300 years ago.

In the early eighteenth century, there was an important change in human nutrition in the West. Thanks to progress in food processing, our diets, in general, have become softer. This has had chain impacts on our body, particularly on facial structure. Due to people not having to chew as much, their mouths did not grow that large, resulting in a tremendous increase in both orthodontic and breathing problems.

Therefore, this is not just limited to evolution. Our modern diets have influenced the form of our heads.

Cultures with distinct dietary habits tend not to routinely agonize from respiratory problems. By American researcher George Catlin, it was documented that when visiting parts of more than 50 indigenous societies in North and South America in the 1830s.

While these groups varied tremendously in cultural practices and diets, several traits were general to all: tall bodies, excellently straight teeth, absence of chronic health problems – and a universal understanding of the requirement for breathing via the nose.

Catlin was persuaded of the power of nasal breathing and was discovered to improve severe breathing problems. In fact, by him, a book was written about it called Breath of Life, and readers were begged: “CLOSE YOUR MOUTH”.

Unfortunately, his message was not understood.


Chapter 3 – Just as breathing is significant, it is also significant to exhale.


In 1958, an interesting appointment was made at the East Orange Veterans Affairs Hospital in New Jersey. By them, a choirmaster named Carl Stough was hired to care for a group of patients with emphysema – a debilitating, chronic lung illness.

Despite having no medical training, By Stough, the problem was immediately diagnosed. Noting that the patients had short and rapid breathing, Stough thought that the problem was not breathing, but that they took lots of air. The issue was they couldn’t breathe enough.

By Stough, his patients were prompted to breathe totally and accurately. And the results stunned his medical co-workers.

The strength of the diaphragm was the thing that Stough used – the muscle that sits under the lungs. It falls as we breathe, expands the lungs, and rises as we exhale. Under normal circumstances, adults do not use the full capacity of the diaphragm, whereas people with breathing problems use the diaphragm less than others.

It is Stough’s technique that includes training his patients’ bodies to use their diaphragms correctly. It prompted patients to breathe very slowly while lying flat, massaging, and touching different parts of the chest, neck, and throat. This prompted them to take in more air every time they exhale.



This seemingly bizarre easy method stimulated the diaphragm to act gently, greatly expanding the patients’ lung capacity.

By Stough, emphysema could not be cured – damage to the patients’ lungs was changeless. However, thanks to their methods, they were permitted access to the still healthy parts of their lungs. Many patients were able to walk again and talk. While one even left the hospital, became the captain of the ship.

The doctors were surprised, as it was considered impossible to manipulate the diaphragm that much. The traditional view was that the lungs weaken and weaken with age, slowly losing capacity.

However, in case, increasing the capacity of the lungs is surprisingly easy, as Stough’s study shows. Even just walking and cycling can assist your lungs to grow by 15 percent.

So, what’s truly going on here? Why is breathing so critical? Isn’t it just throwing out the air we don’t require? Not completely – and we’ll take a gaze at science in the following section.


Chapter 4 – It is slow, shallow breathing that provides unexpected health advantages.


Let’s consider this before seeing the chemical process that enables breathing.

Consider the “Om” hymn of Jainism, the rosary of Catholicism, the shamanic hymn used in Kundalini yoga, and prayers from Japan to Hawaii and China. How long do you consider it takes for one of these customs to breathe while praying or meditating?

Noteworthy, almost accurately the same amount of breath is taken by all of them – between 5.5 and six seconds.

Incredibly beneficial is breathing calmly, slowly at this rate, rising blood flow to the brain, and enhancing efficiency in our body. In this respect, prayer can be good for your health!

Why is it more useful to breathe like this? Let’s get closer to the molecular level.



Thanks to biochemistry, the process of change that begins and ends in our lungs is documented. The oxygen molecules in the air we breathe bind to red blood cells and are moved throughout the body for use by our cells. They are replaced by carbon dioxide molecules and then return to the lungs and exhale.

However, carbon dioxide is more than just a residual product. It plays a very important role in separating oxygen from blood cells. What’s more, it assists blood vessels to dilate and widen them so they can carry more blood.

When we breathe gradually, we dislodge all the carbon dioxide that decreases blood flow. For this reason, exercise or panic can cause headaches and dizziness. Breathing gradually leaves more carbon dioxide in the system – which involves more energy and efficiency.

Therefore, slow and less deep breathing is beneficial. We take in much more air than we require, so even if you breathe gradually, there is little risk of not breathing adequate oxygen. It may sound strange, but you don’t have to load your lungs each time.

Thus, give it a try. The ideal breath is 5.5 seconds in and 5.5 seconds out – 5.5 breaths per minute total. Even if you slow your breath down like this for a few minutes every day, it can work miracles whether you’re praying at the same time or not.


Chapter 5 – Excessively things can be done to develop the form of our mouths by us.


As it was mentioned before by us, which is not suitable for the way we inhale is our modern lifestyle. For the last 300 years, processed foods meant we ought to chew much less – which diminished the size of our mouth, distorted our teeth, and blocked our airways. This is the main reason why respiratory conditions are so common these days, from snoring to asthma.

However, hereabouts good news: It’s shockingly simple to reverse the trend as these problems stem from our habits. It’s even probable to switch the shape of our mouth, as confirmed by some charming improvements in orthodontics.

Unfortunately, in this area, you cannot find an assist from conventional orthodontics.

In the 1940s and 50s, by orthodontists, it often had patients’ teeth removed and braces and caps fitted, which pushed the residual teeth into place. This was done to assist with the problems posed by more petite mouths – however, over time it indeed got smaller. Seldom, new problems such as snoring or sleep apnea, as a result, may be observed in the patients.

When this was noticed by the British dentist John Mew in the late 1950s, his observation met with great resistance from his co-workers. Finally, he lost even his license to practice dentistry. However, it is especially unlucky that his ideas are considered to have become mainstream.



Mew’s answer to the problem of withdrawing mouths? Maintaining good mouth posture is the easiest one. Gather your lips together, gently touching your teeth, and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. So long as you sit or stand accurately, this can assist open your airways.

There are also especially improved devices to assist processing. By the author, Theodore Belfor’s Homeoblock was tried – a block that sits in the mouth and cheats him into considering he is tramping more than he is.

In just a few weeks, the author’s airways extended, his jaw aligned, and in fact, nearly two cubic centimeters of bone developed around his face.

It is correct – even adults can extract bones only by chewing more. Thanks to the use of our rear molars, stem cells are formed that produce novel bones all over our mouth and face. These assists clear our airways. Making you look younger is an additional bonus also!


Chapter 6 – That can have unimaginable impacts, thanks to ultimate breathing methods.


Many simple fixes can be made by you, both open up your airways and to receive the advantages of great breathing habits. Though forcing things even farther can cause results that appear superhuman.

Let’s see Swami Rama who was a man from northern India and visited a psychiatric clinic in Topeka, Kansas, one day back in 1970. Attached to several measuring tools, doctors were shocked by him as showing his control over his body. In a minute, while his heart rate decreased from 74 beats per minute to 52; following, it was increased from 60 to 82 within eight seconds by him. By him, also, his heartbeat was made at 300 beats per minute, for a complete 30 seconds – a speed that would generally be deadly. By Rama, also the other thing that he was power on was his body temperature – he built an 11° temperature blank between his thumb and little finger.

The thing is, Rama wasn’t exceptional. By yogis, these skills have been confirmed for generations because they comprehend how to use their breathing powers.



Tummo is a well-known control technique. This method of breathing, meaning “inner fire,” was improved by Tibetan Buddhists a thousand years ago and builds incredible changes in body temperature. By its practitioners, it can survive under the freezing heights of the Himalayas in thin clothing and melt the snowfall around their bodies with warmth.

It’s not only Tibetan Buddhists who can make this. Another person who had similar achievements was A former Dutch mail carrier named Wim Hof. He became popular in the 2000s for running a shoe and no shirt half marathon in the Arctic Circle. In one research, by scientists, E. coli was injected to him and watched him actively fight the infection.

How was all this accomplished by the Hof and Tummo practitioners? With a careful and rather painstaking heavy breathing system – not the gentle, gradual nudging we are talking about, but an offensive force of air that forces the body to respond.

It’s all this heavy breathing that pushes us into a position of stress – and in this ultimate situation, you can “break” the autonomic nervous system, which often handles body functions outside of intelligent control. Hof’s simplified method, created for Western viewers, also includes played back exposure to the ultimate cold.

It is these methods that are still suspect and should not be taken softly. Still, it is presented as proof of the wonderful things that breathing can make for our bodies.


Chapter 7 – Changing our carbon dioxide levels can reveal visions and change our awareness.


If you take heavy breathing even further, they can influence the mind and body with impacts like psychedelic pills.

In 1956, A person who volunteered for a drug trial was Stanislav Grof, who was a psychology student. One hundred micrograms of an odd novel substance caused him to have vivid, superior visions. He was one of the primaries to try LSD.

Ten years later the substance was forbidden – so by Grof, its legal option was developed. It was named the Holotropic Breath Study by him. He found that a few hours of heavy breathing can cause intense hallucinations.

Why is that? Carbon dioxide is the response again.

As was mentioned earlier by us, what causes our carbon dioxide levels to fall is heavy breathing. The Holotropic Breath Training has another impact of excessively heavy breathing – it reduces blood flow to the brain, mainly influencing the fields that are in charge of our sense of self and the passage of time. Therefore visions.

Although it’s a contentious medication that has still not been widely researched, some have discovered that the Holotropic Breath Study is guided to therapeutic breakthroughs.



Noteworthily, sending carbon dioxide levels in the other direction can also have remarkable impacts. By neurologist Justin Feinstein, the impact of what he has called “carbon dioxide therapy” for years has been studying, discovering an era of ​​research that has been curiously ignored over the past century.

Initially, exposing individuals to high doses of carbon dioxide makes terrible panic attacks – even in human-beings who often sense no horror. The reason for it is that it shocks our chemoreceptors – the neurons in our brains that monitor our carbon dioxide levels – into considering something is severely false. However, after the panic has passed, this type of healer can guide to a state of deep calm.

It’s alike to the situation you can achieve with the kind, slow breathing techniques we introduced earlier. However, for human-beings suffering from anxiety, epilepsy, or schizophrenia, these exercises can be tough to do. For them, Feinstein’s cure is a kind of “shortcut” to reach a similar situation.

That is if they can endure panic attacks. By the writer, this treatment was tried with a 35 percent carbon dioxide dose. He felt like he was choking with each breath.


Chapter 8 – Although the power of breathing is still few known in the West, elsewhere this is a pearl of ancient sageness.


Notwithstanding work being kept going by scientists like Justin Feinstein, research on respiratory power and carbon dioxide levels is still in its baby-steps. Many of the pioneers in this field – human-beings such as Carl Stough or John Mew – work far outside of Western medical orthodoxy.

However, anywhere else in the world – as shown by Swami Rama and Tummo practitioners – this sagacity about breathing is the major view. And it is these ancient conventional that provide a more combined way of thinking about it.

About 3,000 years ago, a powerful idea appeared in Asia. It was called prana by the Indians and ch’i by the Chinese. This is a type of energy or life power theory. It revolves around everything in the universe, whether you call prana, chi, or whatever. However, it is the things that are most lively that he focuses on most. So, preserving your prana is necessary to stay healthy.

Developed as ways to keep prana flow constant; conventional practices such as cupping and yoga – but simply breathing is the greatest way.

It is the relationship of prana to yoga that is much deeper than you would expect. The most initial texts in which we talk about yoga are from BC. There are around 500 Yoga Sutras. Maybe, surprisingly by modern viewers, little is found in these texts about any kind of action. It’s truly about staying still and building prana through breathing.



It is Prana that also explains the shocking effects of slow breathing. Due to the formation of multiple pranas, the body can be put into extreme reactions such as hallucinations. The way to do it by a yogi is not that – it slowly builds up prana over the years, permitting for the biggest impacts.

It’s weird to consider that modern science has a lot to find out about something as

simple for us as breathing. However, this is an era where so-called lifestyle improvements do not go hand to hand with developments in healthcare.

The question is that you don’t require to implement Tummo or any other fantastic method to take advantage of good breathing power. Even believing in prana isn’t obligatory by you. Breathing for 5.5 seconds, breathing for 5.5 seconds, and repeating is all you ought to do.


Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor Book Review


It is to change the way you breathe which has remarkably powerful impacts. By breathing slowly and shallowly within your nose and working your diaphragm correctly, you can do miracles for your health. It is the potential to take things further and reach superhuman success with the power of breathing.


Be calm yourself within breathing.

No time for a suitable meditation or yoga course? That’s ok. The easiest thing you can do to calm yourself is to consider your breathing. Take gentle breaths for five or ten minutes every day for 5.5 seconds in and out.


Try Audible and Get Two Free AudiobooksOpens in a new tab.



Download Pdf


https://goodbooksummary.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/Breath+by+James+Nestor+Book+Summary+-+Review.pdf


Download Epub


https://goodbooksummary.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/Breath+by+James+Nestor+Book+Summary+-+Review.epub


Audiobook


Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

Recent Content