“Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor

While reading this book, I wrote down the main concepts from it. They can be useful for you if just finished listening audiobook or want to refresh knowledge.

other books key concepts

INTRODUCTION

Yes, breathing in different patterns really can influence our body weight and overall health. Yes, how we breathe really does affect the size and function of our lungs. Yes, breathing allows us to hack into our own nervous system, control our immune system, and restore our health. Yes, changing how we breathe will help us live longer.

1. THE EXPERIMENT

THE WORST BREATHERS IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

Of the 5,400 different species of mammals on the planet, humans are now the only ones to routinely have misaligned jaws, overbites, underbites, and snaggled teeth, a condition formally called malocclusion.

MOUTHBREATHING

Simply training to breathe through your nose could cut total exertion in half and offer huge gains in endurance. The athletes felt invigorated while nasal breathing rather than exhausted.

2. THE LOST ART AND SCIENCE OF BREATHING

NOSE

The interior of the nose is blanketed with erectile tissue, the same flesh that covers the penis, clitoris, and nipples. Noses get erections. As sexual stimulation weakens and erectile tissue becomes flaccid, the nose will too.

EXHALE

Just a few minutes of daily bending and breathing can expand lung capacity. With that extra capacity we can expand our lives.

SLOW

The best way to prevent many chronic health problems, improve athletic performance, and extend longevity was to focus on how we breathed, specifically to balance oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body. To do this, we’d need to learn how to inhale and exhale slowly.

LESS

Just as we’ve become a culture of overeaters, we’ve also become a culture of overbreathers. Most of us breathe too much, and up to a quarter of the modern population suffers from more serious chronic overbreathing.

CHEW

Our ancient ancestors chewed for hours a day, every day. And because they chewed so much, their mouths, teeth, throats, and faces grew to be wide and strong and pronounced. Food in industrialized societies was so processed that it hardly required and chewing at all.

3. BREATHING+

MORE, ON OCCASION

Breathing, as it happens, is more than just a biochemical or physical act; it’s more than just moving the diaphragm and sucking in air to feed hungry cells and remove wastes. The tens of billions of molecules we bring into our bodies with every breath also serve a more subtle, but equally important role. They influence nearly every internal organ, telling them to turn on and off. They affect heart rate, digestion, moods, attitudes; when we feel aroused, and when we feel nauseated. Breathing is a power switch to a vast network called the autonomic nervous system.

HOLD IT

The nagging need to breathe is activated from a cluster of neurons called the central chemoreceptors, located at the base of the brain stem. When we’re breathing too slowly and carbon dioxide levels rise, the central chemoreceptors monitor these changes and send alarm signals to the brain, telling our lungs to breathe faster and more deeply. When we are breathing too quickly, these chemoreceptors direct the body to breathe more slowly to increase carbon dioxide levels. This is how our bodies determine how fast and often we breathe, not by the amount of oxygen, but by the level of carbon dioxide.

FAST, SLOW, AND NOT AT ALL

Ancient yogis spent thousands of years honing pranayama techniques, specifically to control this energy and distribute it throughout the body to provoke their “good visions,” toned down a notch or two. This process should take several months or years to master.

A LAST GASP

Like all Eastern medicines, breathing techniques are best suited to serve as preventative maintenance, a way to retain balance in the body so that milder problems don’t blossom into more serious health issues. Should we lost that balance from time to time, breathing can often bring it back.

Increaser

Software engineer, creator of increaser.org. More at geekrodion.com