The Art of Breathing
Updated: Feb 16
"What the bodily form depends on is breath and what breath relies upon is form" Chinese Adage from 700AD.
I highly recommend the book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, by James Nestor. I was astonished how powerful exhalation is.... In my Pilates practice, I have always incorporated slow and deep breathing. After having read this book , It was clear that modern societies have neglected the art of breathing.
Nestor's book is a scientific adventure into the lost art and science of breathing, which he calls ‘restorative' breathing. He uses the word 'lost art' as many of these new discoveries are not new at all. These breathing techniques have been practised by the ancient Chinese and in Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions for thousands of years. Only recently it was scientifically proven that breathing can reduce blood pressure, boost athletic performance and balance the nervous system.
Nestor explains that breathing is more than just ingesting oxygen and expelling carbon-dioxide, or coaxing nervous systems. Breathing has some other more powerful restorative energy which can help to retain balance in the body , preventing or treating chronic ailments or ‘diseases of civilisation’ which modern medicines have failed to address.
Through his research, he reiterates that ‘how we breathe' matters and that we need to practise it daily. He uses the word conscious breathing or ‘breath work’. A few minutes to an hour of ‘restorative’ breathing can help us regain vitality after a stressful day or even regaining our health back during and after illness.
I like to compare it to a vitamin-boost or supplement that supports healthy cells, a healthy body and a healthy immune system.
Some useful tips given in his book:
-Breathe through your nose
-Breathe less and slowly with a big exhale
(5.5seconds inhale and 5.5 seconds exhale)
-Benefits of chewing gum
The author describes more detailed breathing methods which are available in videos at mrjamesnestor.com/breath.