Breath – Confession: It was torture

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. – From the inside jacket cover of Breath by James Nestor

Allow me to introduce you to Breath by James Nestor.

Book, these are my readers.

Book says, “Nice to meet ya!”

Niceties over… here’s a little story.


Once upon a time, I got a book by accident. Here’s how it happened.

Mom told me she’d started a great book that would be suitable for my little blog here. It was, she told me:

New York Times Bestseller

Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2020

Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR (link for award list)

Obviously, you’ve guessed, it was called Breath.

I immediately went to my local online bookseller and put a copy of it in my cart. I would need another book or two to qualify for free shipping, so it sat there waiting.

In the meantime, Mom was reading the book along with all the other stuff she does like online classes, her work with the BOD where she lives, and (at the time) taking care of my dad.

About two weeks later, I found two other books and pushed the purchase button. I told my mom. She said, “Oooooh yeah, I forgot to tell you… ” and went on to share a few things about the book that would be difficult, if not impossible (with my health anxiety and very strong feelings about animal testing and torture) for me to read. She didn’t share the exact things… just a general idea… because (as I said) she knew I wouldn’t want to read it. She knows stuff. She knows me.

Don’t get me wrong, she thought it was an EXCELLENT book! Just not for me, not now, possibly not ever.

I went onto the site and canceled the order. Done and done.

A week later, my cancelled order arrived in our mailbox.


Guess I was meant to read it? Or at least… part of it.

This is a book about breathing. We all do it… some better than others.

Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to hte we we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance; rejuvenate internal organs; halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease; and even straighten scoliotic spines.” (-Also from the dust jacket cover)

If Nestor is right, we will take 670 million breaths in our lifetimes. And here’s the thing… it has always been this way… plus or minus a few million breaths. If we live, we breathe.

The transformation of our bodies as we inhale and exhale is explained in graphic detail through the eyes and ears of scientists through the ages. Nestor puts himself through experiments – some daunting, to say the least.

The first and most important message in this book is this: WE ARE MEANT TO BREATH THROUGH OUR NOSE.

I had learned this years ago as it relates to my asthma. I wrote about it here, about the book Breathing Free. That book told me that it’s very difficult to have an asthma attack while breathing through your nose. Tough sitch, considering by the time you’re having an attack, you’re stressed to the max and gasping for air. Evidently, it’s the worst thing for asthma! Ever since I read it, I’ve tried to remember to breathe through my nose.

Now see, this is where I need to stop and tell you that I read most of this part with rapt attention… the breathing through my nose stuff.


I skipped most of the rest of the experiments because I’d been given that head’s up by Mom. Sadly, it’s the majority of the book!

So, I basically read the beginning of the book and the end, which includes the most robust appendix and endnotes sections that I have ever seen.

Yep, that’s my confession. I read less of this book than any other I’ve talked about. EVER.

I would normally never talk about a book I haven’t read completely. I hope you’ll forgive me and understand.

I couldn’t NOT mention it because it is – obviously – a pivotal work and excellent book.

So yes, I’d HIGHLY recommend it but not necessarily if you have crippling health anxiety and/or very strong feelings about humans and animals being tortured. <<< TORTURE: I use that word carefully and purposefully. The thought of anyone having oxygen cut off for an experiment is absolutely terrifying. How well I understand the panic and fear, as a person with asthma. To have it happen on purpose for science? To innocent animals? No thanks.

Ahem. Yeah. You understand, I’m sure.

I will end with an interview with the author himself… and this may be enough to get you going on the road to better breathing.


  1. I love that you’re here reading, Ana! I hope you are well!!!

    Love & hugs!

    And I’m not in the least surprised to hear about your voice and flute! Your voice is beautiful, whether speaking or singing. Someone needs to “discover” you… then you’d be set for life!

    I want all good things for you, my friend. I love you! 💕


  2. I think you got the part you needed. TMI aside, breathing exercises are much more individual than we’d suppose. I’ve had teachers look at me with a lot of concern during some conventional group deep breathing. In another situation I’ve also gotten spectacular results by reversing the general instruction and breathing more slowly rather than otherwise. One exercise I’ve written about, designed to heal the inner child, involved two very different breathing speeds and produced profoundly life changing results.

    Of course, that comes on top of many years of controlled deep breathing as performing flautist and vocalist, so that may have skewed my personal equation.

    Point being, not all breathing is meant for everyone, and you showed what is encouraged among energy workers as discernment ~ taking what was for you and leaving the rest for others. Good for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fascinating interview with Nestor! So glad you included it with your review. For many, it’s probably more helpful than trying to read the book. Well done, Sherry!

    Liked by 1 person

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