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Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
James Nestor's Office Photo: James Nestor

After 20 years researching, training practitioners and helping people with breathing disorders, I realise there is still plenty to learn about breathing. We are only now exploring the frontiers of this "lost art" and how it impacts on human health and well-being. James Nestor's book Breath: The New Science of a lost Art is one of the finest and most thoroughly researched books on breathing that I have read.

300,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens had bigger skulls. Our heads shrank when we started cooking our food and chewed less. Alongside a growing brain, our airways got narrower. Urbanisation then led us to breathe more and less healthily. And so today more than 90% of us breathe incorrectly.

We have been breathing all our life, and yet we need to learn how to breathe properly! In Breath, James Nestor meets cutting-edge scientists at Harvard and experiments on himself in labs at Stanford to see the impact of bad breathing. He revives the lost, and recently scientifically proven, wisdom of swim coaches, Indian mystics, stern-faced Russian cardiologists, Czechoslovakian Olympians and New Jersey choral conductors – the world's foremost 'pulmonauts' – to show how breathing in specific patterns can trigger our bodies to absorb more oxygen. He explains the science and the benefits of functional breathing in warding off anxiety, improving focus, sleeping better, saving our teeth, losing weight and, most of all, staying healthy.

Breath is a fascinating ride through evolution, medicine and physiology – and extreme sports. But mostly it explores you. Structured as a journey with chapters from the mouth and nose through to the lungs and nervous system, it is non-fiction at its breath-taking best.

This New York Times best seller has the potential to help transform medicine. Learning to breathe properly and always through your nose imparts health benefits to help us deal with the many environmental and social stresses of this modern age. It can assist to eliminate the overuse of medications, which in many instances are merely suppressing symptoms and often have “side” effects that can be worse than the disorder for which the medications are prescribed.

Note: James Nestor is a journalist and not a breathing instructor. For this reason, you should not attempt any of the breathing exercises outlined at the end of the book without the supervision of a qualified breathing instructor.

Some breathing tips from James Nestor 

  • Nasal breathing is king
  • Breathe through your nose when exercising
  • Breathe low and slow
  • Breathing less gets more oxygen to cells
  • Humming boosts nitric oxide and boosts immune functions

James Nestor was interviewed by Jessie Mulligan on Radio New Zealand on Tuesday, 15 September 2020:  

James Nestor's book Breath: The New Science of a lost Art is available in New Zealand. 

A Blast from the Past

Our clinic was featured on Campbell Live in May 2006.

Twins Caitlin and Sinead came to our clinic for help with their asthma and the Campbell Live team filmed their progress. It was nerve-racking working with these active twins and the other kids in front of the TV cameras, but also a lot of fun. We got to show how even young children can learn to control their asthma and reduce their need for medication by changing their breathing. And the best outcome for parents is the peace of mind that their children understand and are in control of their asthma instead of the asthma controlling them.

This and other videos can be found on our YouTube channel

School Holiday Breathing Courses

We offer courses and consultations at our Auckland clinic and online

To book a consultation or course, or for more information about our programmes, contact us on 09-360 6291 or by email. You can also book online.

Post updated 27 Oct 2023

Posted: Tue 15 Sep 2020


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Helping people with breathing disorders since 2001

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