Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

Riverhead. May 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780735213616. $28. SCI.
Although we all breathe, there is an art and science to breathing correctly, claims Nestor (Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves). Nestor investigates the work of pulmonauts, a term he uses to describe people (scientists and the general public alike) who discovered and refined techniques that contribute to our understanding of breathing and how best to do it. Through experiments that Nestor participated in, as well as copious research, and interviews with experts, the author describes the extraordinarily detrimental effect mouth breathing has on health and conversely the benefits of nose-breathing. Nestor explains that by harnessing the power of the exhale it is possible to improve athletic performance and even outcomes for people with conditions such as emphysema. Slowing the breath, breathing less, and breathing more are other areas of research explored. An appendix covers myriad breathing techniques and ancient breathing practices such as pranayama.
VERDICT Full of fascinating information and compelling arguments, this eye-opening (or more aptly a mouth-closing and nostril-opening) work is highly recommended for those with health conditions related to sleep apnea, asthma, and snoring.
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