Breath of Fresh Air
James Nestor's Breath - The New Science of a Lost Art” was literally a breath of fresh air, and as engaging as a page turning novel. Nestor is an investigative journalist. For this book, he immersed himself in pulmonary tests, anthropology, history, and a variety of different breathing technique classes. Looking for answers, he traveled the world, taking us to various places, including creepy underground tunnels, The Catacombs of Paris in France, to study the sizes of skulls.
There he learns the size of our skulls determine whether we have the open spaces big enough for breathing. Our ancestors ages ago had perfect skulls and straight teeth. But as food became softer and more processed, we stopped chewing as much, so our skulls shrunk. And as our brains got bigger, there was less space available for air to come in. Crooked teeth are a sign that a skull is small.
Mama says chew your food
Chewing your food properly is also important for breathing. Yes, the bone in your skull can remodel and grow into your seventies, so chewing food can help build that bone and muscles to literally keep the spaces in your skull open and your face full. Maybe increased chewing can be the new botox and filler, without the expensive dermo bill. Dr Mike Mew, who is mentioned in the book, explores this in depth on his youtube channel. This informative video “Meal Time Exercise”, explaining how to chew, plays in my head now while I am eating.
Nose Breathing versus Mouth Breathing
With a history of recurring pneumonia and bronchitis, Nestor sets out to discover the lost art of breathing. He becomes a human lab rat with a Stanford led team conducting the experiment of the effects of nose breathing versus mouth breathing. Nestor explains the difference and without a shadow of a doubt, nose breathing is beneficial. He spent 10 days only breathing through the mouth with a taped nose, then 10 days only breathing through the nose with a taped mouth. In those 10 days of mouth breathing, the increase in stress, blood pressure, snoring, sleep apnea, plus a decrease in quality of life was significant. 10 days!
Case for The Hundreds
Here’s a pop quiz: What part of the breath cycle do you think is the most important? Think about it right here on this sentence before you go to the next one. Okay ready? It’s the exhale. We need to make sure we fully exhale to engage respiratory muscles, strengthen the lungs, and get the stale air out. Think of this next time you do The Hundreds! This book gives meaning to the love/hate relationship we all have with The Hundreds, as well as justification for nose breathing during. The exhale pushes the already oxygenated blood into the body. As we age, we lose lung capacity from not breathing properly. As a result, our breath gets shorter, higher up, and fast, which leads to high blood pressure, immune disorders, stress, and anxiety. These short breaths signal panic mode in the body. Keep it deep people!
Breath Less and through the Nose
His take away on breathing, is that we should breath less. At the end of the book, Nestor goes over all the techniques he introduced us too, but he thinks the perfect breath is “breathing slow, less, and through the nose with a big exhale.” He suggests this breathing exercise: inhale for 5.5 seconds, and exhale for 5.5 seconds. Okay Pilates fans, what 5 count breathing does that remind you of?? Hundreds perhaps?? No wonder Joe put that in the beginning of our work. It’s not exactly 5 second count, but he was onto something. There are many suggestions to try and it is important information to know. Pick up this book, and breathe it in with a full out breath.