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There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat 25,000 times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences.
Journalist James Nestor travels the world to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. The answers aren't found in pulmonology labs, as we might expect, but in the muddy digs of ancient burial sites, secret Soviet facilities, New Jersey choir schools, and the smoggy streets of Sao Paulo. Nestor tracks down men and women exploring the hidden science behind ancient breathing practices like Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, and Tummo and teams up with pulmonary tinkerers to scientifically test long-held beliefs about how we breathe.
Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance, rejuvenate internal organs, halt snoring, allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disease, and even straighten scoliotic spines. None of this should be possible, and yet it is.
Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies in pulmonology, psychology, biochemistry, and human physiology, Breath turns the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function on its head. You will never breathe the same again.
From the author of the international Bestseller Breath
Covering a diving championship in Greece on a hot and sticky assignment for Outside magazine, James Nestor discovered free diving. He had stumbled on one of the most extreme sports in existence: a quest to extend the frontiers of human experience, in which divers descend without breathing equipment, for hundreds of feet below the water, for minutes after they should have died from lack of oxygen. Sometimes they emerge unconscious, or bleeding from the nose and ears, and sometimes they don't come up at all.
The free divers were Nestor's way into an exhilarating and dangerous world of deep-sea pioneers, underwater athletes, scientists, spear fishermen, billionaires and ordinary men and women who are poised on the brink of some amazing discoveries about the ocean. Soon he was visiting the scientists who live 60ft underwater (and are permanently high on nitrous dioxide), swimming with the notorious man-eating sharks of Réunion and descending thousands of feet in a homemade submarine. And on the way down, he learnt about the amazing amphibious reflexes activated in the human body under deep-water conditions, why dolphins were injected with LSD in an attempt to teach them to talk, and why sharks like AC/DC.
The sea covers seventy per cent of Earth's surface, and still contains answers to questions about the world we are only beginning to ask: Deep blends science and adventure to uncover its amazing secrets.