As per my 2nd (previous) posting of my reading and review-as-I-went of James Nestor’s, “Breath, the New Science of a Lost Art” – I wasn’t exactly sure where his a very savvy journalistic, yet personally involved, narrative was taking me : a surprise letdown (no), a mixed verdict (not exactly), a resounding affirmation (sorta), or something else, something more balanced, grounded in his own health-fitness preferences (similar to mine) yet very much attributing his positive recommendation to both his own personal involvement in the various therapies – and – the science itself; the latter now growing so wide and accepted Nestor himself found himself predicting “breathing” would become “big business.” 😊
With – very important for me to add – his assertion that the “gadgets” & classes were great to try out if one wished – but – “most” of the practices could be done free on one’s own once one knew how. He himself still meets with a group he’s been with for a decade, and those kinds of social connections can sometimes be very good for us – if we wish!
Most impressively, at the end of his book, he details quite a few breathing patterns and practices to help one see if this works for oneself.
And actually, the latter 1/4 or so of the book is so filled with references, links, and index, and detailed descriptions of various breathing methods, I finished the regular portion of his book sooner than I’d expected. Then have spent a bit of time exploring all these resources he’s listed; the extensive index itself being far more useful than I’d expected. For example, I have, and have had, a deviated septum since who knows when, and there’s things to know I found handy.
Returning to breathing as a business, even that breathing has become Big Business, that’s relatively reassuring for the simple reason that one of the biggest threats to the insights gleaned from proper breathing, dating back thousands of years, with those breathing insights then repeatedly resurfacing the last couple hundred years, only to be forgotten, again, and ignored, or ridiculed, would now not be as likely forgotten as the craze for breathing strips, resistance masks, classes, gurus, teachers, and frankly a wider and wider acceptance of the importance of nose vs mouth breathing becomes not just an accepted practice, and not just a preference, but ubiquitous – all around us in ads and commercials and classes in our fitness centers. Kinda ironic. It wouldn’t be the science that makes breathing important, but how it profits with, well, profits, lol! But we all know profits are not bad in themselves, but if they’re earned without abuse to others, right? 😊
Along with all that, Nestor also brings in a deep look at how and why even a, one would assume, simple act of chewing – also affects our most basic physical act – breathing.
…stem cells, amorphous blanks that shift form and become tissues and bones depending on what our bodies need. Stem cells, which are used throughout the body, are also the mortar that binds the sutures together and that grows new bone in the mouth and face.Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, by James Nestor – https://amzn.to/3lRbE0j
Unlike other bones in the body, the bone that makes up the center of the face, called the maxilla, is made of a membrane bone that’s highly plastic. The maxilla can remodel and grow more dense into our 70s, and likely longer. “You, me, whoever—we can grow bone at any age,” Belfor told me. All we need are stem cells. And the way we produce and signal stem cells to build more maxilla bone in the face is by engaging the masseter—by clamping down on the back molars over and over.
Chewing. The more we gnaw, the more stem cells release, the more bone density and growth we’ll trigger, the younger we’ll look and the better we’ll breathe.
It starts at infancy.
I am, I see now, in what are very recent hindsights, mostly because of this book, so very fortunate to now be able to reframe some of my earliest memories as being quite lucky occurrences for my long term health. I sure didn’t expect that via this book!
For example, at about 4 years of age, still riding the grocery cart seat in the store with my parents, I spotted these gotta-have-them long orange “things” in the cooler section of the store. I badgered my parents til they got me a package. When we got home I could hardly wait til they opened the plastic bag, pulled out my 1st carrot, and quietly handed it to me. My 1st surprise was hold cold it was! My 2nd surprise was how hard it was to chew! I thought it’d be a soft chewy thing, like a lot of my other food. I could see my parents couldn’t decide whether to chastise me for wanting them and not being able to immediately eat them, or just plain laugh at the faces I must’ve been making as I gnawed and gnawed. I did not want them doing either of those, so I worked and worked the outer skin, til I cracked the outer husk and found the sweet softer inner part of the carrot, and I was home safe, lol! I ate and ate and ate raw carrots everyday, strengthening the bones in my mouth, using my teeth, til just over 2 years ago when I had several operations that meant I needed smaller, slightly softer vegetable portions to digest.
It’s a fun memory. But it was a God send lucky happenstance for me, and this book details, in even more ways than the quote earlier, why and how chewing one’s food widens and strengthens one’s mouth, which aides in preventing crooked teeth, and, opens the mouth and jaws and back of the throat for fuller healthier nose breaths!
One more lucky personal reflection that’s aided me for most of my adult life occurred in my late teens / early 20s, in the late 60s and early 70s. The esoteric yogic movements then, probably everywhere, including Houston where I grew up, were too much to resist ❤️ Mantras, incense, camaraderie – most of which reminded me of the old Roman Catholic masses I was immersed in growing up, also presented what’s turned out to be universal healthy breathing aids, via patterns of prayer and/or chanting. Nestor does a great job linking the major forms of worship and prayer throughout the world throughout history that shared a major breathing pattern he details in his book. My memories of my feelings during those early decades of my life confirm his belief about how our shared human way of breathing connects us still.
I won’t go into more of my own affinities I was so blessed to have grown up with that’s probably prevented more serious breathing problems than I have, but this book astounded me with how these very happenstance ways of growing up are actually now seen as grounded in scientifically verified physiological reasons they work.
And if you have questions about what’s in the book, or after reading it, Nestor has a website and Facebook page where you can ask those questions, or see answers to similar questions asked, and see the video responses from experts in those fields. No charge.
This goes very strongly along with how James Nestor himself affirms the need for science, saying he would not be alive without some of today’s modern cures and procedures, considering himself an investigative journalist, not a scientist.
Here’s his info near the end of his book —
About the author –Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, by James Nestor – https://amzn.to/3lRbE0j
James Nestor has written for Outside, Scientific American, The Atlantic, Dwell, The New York Times, and many other publications. His book Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves was a finalist for the 2015 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing, an Amazon Best Science Book of 2014, and more. Nestor has appeared on dozens of national television shows, including ABC’s Nightline and CBS’s Morning News, and on NPR. He lives and breathes in San Francisco.
Where I stand now regarding nose breathing —
Hopefully you’ve found this running 3-part review useful; or at least certainly great food for thought, lol!
My tweet directly below, with a link to my April 2011 blog post, “Yoga Breathing – Nose? Mouth? or Both?” is kinda interesting in general, and very interesting to myself personally.
I was, mostly, where I was a few weeks ago before reading this book.
It’s explained things to me I needed to know —
And changed my mind ☺️
Because it explained, well enough, clearly enough, for me to understand, the benefits and need for as much nose breathing as possible – and that’s a very big deal for me personally 💕
Stay well everyone! Enjoy – breathe well! ❤️
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