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Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

Unabridged Audio Book

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James Nestor

7 Hours 18 Minutes

Penguin Audio

May 2020

Audio Book Summary

A New York Times Bestseller

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2020

Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR
“A fascinating scientific, cultural, spiritual and evolutionary history of the way humans breathe—and how we’ve all been doing it wrong for a long, long time.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic and Eat Pray Love

No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly.

There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences.

Journalist James Nestor travels the world to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. The answers aren’t found in pulmonology labs, as we might expect, but in the muddy digs of ancient burial sites, secret Soviet facilities, New Jersey choir schools, and the smoggy streets of São Paulo. Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, and Tummo and teams up with pulmonary tinkerers to scientifically test long-held beliefs about how we breathe.

Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance; rejuvenate internal organs; halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease; and even straighten scoliotic spines. None of this should be possible, and yet it is.

Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology, Breath turns the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function on its head. You will never breathe the same again.

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  • John H.

    This is a delightfully quirky book that will change your life...for the better. I say "quirky" because of the author's journey and narrative through the world of breath. The book is not only immensely informative but amusing and interesting. The author, James Nestor, will take you around the world and through the ages on an incredible, breathtaking journey. For these reasons, I intend to review sections to remind myself of the importance of quality breathing and its critical importance to good health.

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  • Anonymous

    Good book and really interesting findings. Love the breathing practices at the end. Book has changed my perception along with the way I breathe.

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  • Ismail F.

    It was a great book to reform our routine to have a better life. Book is full of experiences which prove the author’s theory but suspiciously none of them came out maybe part of his theory is wrong!

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  • Sbruner27

    I loved this book so much that I am probably going to listen to it again soon. I came in skeptical but curious but I quickly saw the benefits of proper breathing in my day to day life. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    This book reminded me of the importance of thinking about the most natural human function - breath. I think about it all the time now as my lungs expand and as I drift off to sleep without sleep apnea!

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  • Valerie S.

    Loved this book

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  • Anonymous

    This book gave me a lot to think about and thought me a lot. I really like the ending with the breathing exercises.

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  • James C.

    I was very excited to finally listen to this book. James Nestor is a fantastic narrator. Thank you for the Bohr effect refresher and explaining chemoreceptors better than any textbook. I have not had to take a sip of water or get up multiple times at night since listening to this. No more nasal congestion. Mouth taping has put an end to that. Breathing through my nose during exercise as well by taping has left me less tired and recover much easier. I am a daily Wim Hof practitioner for the last six months when I saw him on Russell Brand. It was great to hear his practice discussed. Thank you for this wonderful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Great book. interesting and informative. Learned and enjoyed.

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  • Katre P.

    So interesting and educating. I'm definitely gonna listen to it at least a couple more times!

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