Breath by James Nestor

Book Notes – In this series, I share my insights, ideas, and reviews of my favourite books, whose topics are wide-ranging.

Rating – 7.5/10

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Amazon Link

Book Compressed into 3 Points

  • The simple act of breathing correctly dramatically improves your health and well-being.
  • Humans, over time, have lost the ability to breathe correctly, and it has manifested in many prevalent health concerns.
  • There exist a series of ancient/and modern practices that optimizes your breathing.

Who is it for?

  • Anyone looking to improve their health with minimal effort.
  • Those interested in the various ways we have lost the ability to breathe correctly and how to address them.
  • Readers of simplified science books.

3 Favourite Quotes

  • Mouthbreathing, it turns out, changes the physical body and transforms airways, all for the worse. Inhaling air through the mouth decreases pressure, which causes the soft tissues in the back of the mouth to become loose and flex inwards, creating less overall space and making breathing more difficult. Mouthbreathing begets more mouthbreathing.
  • Contrary to what most of us might think, no amount of snoring is normal, and no amount of sleep apnea comes without risks of serious health effects…children who experienced no apnea events at all—only heavy breathing and light snoring, or “increased respiratory effort” —could suffer from mood disorders, blood pressure derangements, learning disabilities, ane more.
  • Few of us even consider how the nostrils of every living person pulse to their own rhythm, opening and closing like a flower in response to their moods, mental states, and perhaps even the sun and the moon.


  • The author recounts an experience about how breathing correctly gives him a revelation.
  • He conducts experiments on himself (buy clogging off his nose for 20 days) to experience the drastic health consequences of mouth breathing.
  • In the course of 20 days, he sees a dramatic rise in snoring, sleep apnea, decreased athletic performance, reduced sleep quality, and an overall decline in well being
  • Air taken through the nose is clear, heated, and moistened for better absorption.
  • The nasal cavities control the body temperature and blood pressure, along with chemicals in the brain that alter moods, emotions and sleep states.
  • Native Americans knew that mouth breathing sapped body strength, deformed the face structure, causing stress and disease.
  • Oxygen absorption increases by 10-15% through nasal breathing, not to mention a 6x increase in nitric oxide(increasing blood circulation)
  • Breathing less increases CO2 concentration in the cells, which is good as it increases oxygen absorption in those cells.
  • At the end of the book, he lists breathing practices from around the world that improve your quality of life. These include: 
  1. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
  2. Breathing Coordination
  3. Resonant (Coherent) Breathing
  4. Buteyko breathing
  5. Mini breath-holds, Nose songs, Walking/running
  6. Hard Chewing
  7. Tummo
  8. Sudarshan Kriya


  • This book shows how breathing correctly is a core part of our well-being and how tiny changes can have long-lasting effects. The author has gone through significant personal discomfort to test the theories in his book. The style is easy to read and recommended for teenagers and above. There are moments when he suggests pseudoscientific methods to improve health. Some may be considered ineffective in everyday discourse. Try at your discretion. This book made me realize how many health problems today are simply a result of improper breathing. It gave me a sense of control over my health. 

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Published by Ishan Shanavas

I am a young adult, interested in nature, photography, art and culture. An aspiring polymath, I share my learnings through my blog. I also include insights from my favourite books.

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