This week on the Mindrolling podcast, Raghu shares a conversation with author James Nestor about the underestimated power of our breath and how we can work with it.
James Nestor is an author and journalist who has written for Outside Magazine, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Scientific American, Dwell Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, and more. His New York Times bestselling book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art explores how the human species has lost the ability to breathe properly over the past several hundred thousand years and is now suffering from a laundry list of maladies — snoring, sleep apnea, asthma, autoimmune disease — because of it.
Visit mrjamesnestor.com to learn more about the book, start practicing with a collection of breathing exercise videos and find a comprehensive guide to breathing and Q&A with experts on how breathing relates to different medical conditions.
How often do you think about your breath? James and Raghu talk about the importance of the breath in every aspect of our physiology. They look at the importance that many spiritual traditions and practices have placed on breathing and discuss the scientific research around the breath.
“We have this thing that we carry around with us, all day long – our entire lives. Yet few of us ever consider that we get most of our energy from our breath. breathing is what feeds our body, more than the food and drink we ingest.” – James Nestor
What Went Wrong? (17:20)
James looks at the way that our ability to breathe has changed as the human body has evolved in response to our environment and lifestyle over the centuries. He describes how research for the book Breath took him 60 feet below ground to study these changes to the human body in the Catacombs of Paris. Raghu and James reflect on the myriad of diseases and disorders that modern people suffer from which can be directly traced back to our inability to breathe the same way as our ancestors and modern cultures untouched by modernity.
Power of the Breath (25:40)
Raghu and James discuss some of the different cultures that have integrated the breath into their spiritual practices – including through prayer. They examine why it is that simply changing our rate of breathing can yield immediate results.
Raghu and James look at the example of the extreme athlete Wim Hoff and how breathing techniques play an essential component to his ability to train and compete in the harshest below-freezing conditions.