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Reading has been one of those absolute luxuries that has been ok to overdo in lockdown. I’ve set myself a 40-book target for 2021 which promises a mix of business books and some much over-looked fiction.

I recently read Breath by James Nestor – The New Science of a Lost Art. Not only is this an excellent potted history of breathing it also provides an opportunity to dip in and try some of the breathing techniques along the way.

James takes us on a journey to explore the simple thing that each of us do 25,000 times a day. He teams up with pulmonary thinkers to scientifically examine the long-held beliefs on how we breathe. Looking at methods practiced by Tibetan Buddhists for thousands of years – methods such as Tummo which involve breathing slower, breathing less, and breathing through the nose with a big exhale. All designed to diffuse stress and restore balance.

With his Swedish friend Olsen, James enrols on a 20-day Stanford University study looking at breathing comparisons through mouth or nose. It transpires that mouth-breathing was terrible, whilst breathing through the nose has a restorative effect. The nose is crucial because it filters air, heats and moistens it for easier absorption.

It’s no surprise that breathing techniques feature on the most popular anxiety apps suggested by the NHS website such as Calm, Chill Panda and Headspace. A number of Apps use breathing as part of the meditation set-up and breathing features in many of the sessions as the anchor to help focus the mind on one point.

Whether you need to address some troublesome snoring, improve athletic performance or just find time to relax, a trip through Breath will give you some food for thought…..

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