At the time I’m posting this podcast I have the Book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art in my possession but have not started reading it yet. I’ll let you know how it is.
Since learning more about Wim Hof I’ve been more attention to my breathing. I can’t tell you it’s cured all my problems and increased my bench. I can tell you that breathing through my nose while running and breathing deeper hasn’t killed me yet.
When we think about improving our health, we typically think about altering our diet, trying to exercise more, and taking vitamins and supplements. But my guest today argues that none of that stuff really matters if we haven’t improved something even more foundational: our breathing.
His name is James Nestor and his latest book is Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. At the beginning of our conversation, James explains why he paid thousands of dollars to have his nose plugged up, and what happened to his body when he could only breathe out of his mouth. We unpack the dangers of the common problem of being a habitual mouth breather, including the fact that it can even change the shape of our faces, and why modern humans started breathing through the mouth rather than the nose. James then reveals what happened when he switched his experiment around and breathed only through his nose, and explains why simply switching the passageway of your breathing from oral to nasal can have such significant health benefits. He also shares his weird trick to switch from mouth to nose breathing at night, which I’ve tried myself and found effective. We then discuss the importance of getting better at exhaling, and why you counterintuitively probably need to be thinking more about getting carbon dioxide into your body rather than oxygen. In the latter part of our conversation, we discuss more advanced breathing techniques, including hypoventilation training, where you double your exhales to inhales to acclimate yourself to higher levels of CO2, as well as other experimental breathing techniques that may allow people to take conscious control of the supposedly involuntary autonomic nervous system in order to boost immunity and heal diseases.
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