Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

On June 8, I did my initial post on James Nestor's best seller, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, while I was still reading the book. After I finished it on June 11, three days later, I started watching several YouTube videos of interviews with Nestor. While still reading the book, I had started various breathing exercises. To do that, I returned to an app I had purchased previously but did not use very long, named 'iBreathe'. It turned out that was for me the ideal way to begin trying at least some Nestor's recommendations. The result has been a much-desired daily habit of breathing exercises that have actually become a form of mind-cleansing meditation. The initial result has been a mild but significant reduction in blood pressure – a goal I'd had in the hope of avoiding the need for a BP Rx.

Before writing this post, I read a number of Breath reviews posted on Goodreads. What I learned from those reviews was that there are many valid criticisms, especially when based on an individual reader's initial expectations.

For example, a number of reviewers apparently wanted a book that focused primarily on the current science about breathing. While Nestor does write about breathing science, that is only a portion of what he does – and some of the anecdotes he writes about could be considered very questionable if presented as scientific fact. Nestor does not do that, but the inclusion of such anecdotes dismays readers who want only stories grounded in research.

Other reviewers complain about what they call Nestor's roundabout manner, consisting of what they view as unnecessary verbiage and personal anecdotes. Nestor does that because he is actually sharing the journey he undertook to learn about the topic of breathing – which included not only science, but history. I, for one, actually enjoyed the sharing of his personal experience in traveling and talking to various different individual experts – not just researchers but also mystics, trainers, Japanese women freedivers and many others.

When I finished reading the book, I gave it five stars on Goodreads. After reading the critical reviews, I realized the reason I liked the book so much was that it motivated me to engage in the extensive breathing exercises. So, because it had such an affect on my daily life, the five-star rating is still appropriate for me.