The Power of Breathing to Enhance Performance, Relieve Stress and Anxiety, and Improve Sleep

James Nestor

James Nestor is a NY Times Best Selling author and is on the podcast today talking about his latest book BREATH. James is the perfect advocate for why breathing correctly is vital for our emotional and physical health, and a curator of so many important people working in this area from dentists to gurus. He also explains how his interest in free diving led him to author DEEP and how this book brought him to write BREATH.

James shares what types of diverse breathing practices exist, and also reminds us that breathing correctly day in and day out may be one of our most underutilized tools we possess.  Not to mention it’s FREE and you can do it anywhere.

He even answers the question why everyone used to have straight teeth, and now why we need braces in modern life.

James himself has changed the way he breathes after learning about the powerful benefits of simply breathing through your nose.  We get into the why and the how of breathing: Breathing for performance, recovery, managing stress and anxiety, better sleep, and avoiding long term illness.


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Key Topics:

The Power of Breathing to Enhance Performance, Relieve Stress and Anxiety, and Improve Sleep

My guest is James Nestor, the New York Times bestselling author of Breath. What I love about this book and this conversation is James curates all the most comprehensive, but latest science on breathing and why it’s so important. His tagline is, “The new science of a lost art.” What he points out to us is all the ways that we used to do it right naturally and now because of modern living, it makes sense how we’ve gotten away from that. How do we use the breath not only to support our mental health but our physical health as well? I learned a ton and I hope you do, too. Enjoy. 

I would imagine when you’re writing or working that you weirdly, almost maybe hear your own thoughts more.

Absolutely. You want to so you don’t want things to disappear quickly. You want to be able to let them sit there, meditate on them, and figure them out, and then you can write about them. I have a dog. I work in the backyard in my house in San Francisco in this little teeny shed that has one seat, a computer, and that’s it. When the doors shut, it’s go time.

You’re in the creative womb. 

Trust me, with the pandemic, it was a wonderful place to go.

I won’t ask you necessarily what because I know these things are secrets, but this next project, was it created or inspired by what has happened during the months of COVID or was it something you’re already working on prior?

The way I do books is extremely inefficient. I do not have a system of doing them. What I do is I have a file folder in the back of my office and whenever I start seeing things that are of interest to me, I categorize them in this file folder. Sometimes I do it on my phone. Whenever one of those files gets big enough, I think, “Maybe there’s something here. Maybe it’s a magazine story, maybe it’s a book.” As I chip away at these things, it takes years and years for these things to develop, which my publisher’s not super stoked about. I want to work on something that I feel passionate about and that I want to put all my time into.

I don’t just want to turn something around. I want to get immersed in the subject and I’m lucky enough to be able to do that. Magazine stories are a much quicker turnaround. You can get shortly immersed in this thing then you have to come out and write about it right as you think you’re understanding it. With books, you have a much longer lead time so you’re able to absorb yourself in the subject matters. That’s what I try to do. Eventually, this file folder has grown larger and larger.

How do you go from looking at, “What am I going to do for my profession?” Did you have a sense of, “I’m going to write, observe things, and share that with other people?” Did you always know that? I’m always interested in creative paths. That’s a hard path to go on. Where did you get the confidence and the idea that it was possible?

I never set out to do this. I never thought I could. I grew up in Orange County. It’s pretty close to here. I used to come up here all the time in the ‘70s and ‘80s and body surf and surf. Growing up there, a lot of people think of Southern California in the ‘70s and ‘80s as this hippie dream, like a crunchy granola dream. That is such a conservative place. It’s a little slice of Texas in California. I grew up in a conservative environment. The high school, my family, the block I was living on.

What was drilled into everybody the whole time was, “You need to go out and get a job. You get a job and you get a family. You get a family and you retire.” That’s it. Life is a no BS enterprise. You have to go and do it. That’s what I was reared in and that’s what I fell into. I’d like to think I was a little outside of that but in retrospect, I was pretty deeply within that system of high school, college, job, done. It wasn’t until late in my life when I was in my mid-30s that I wanted to write for magazines. I had no intention of writing books at all. I had been a copywriter and ad writer. I was pretty good at it. I had a good job doing writing magazine, copy, and all that stuff. It was a good job.

Behind all of it, I was like, “What do I really want to do?” I would try to think that my recreation time would be fulfilling of what I wanted to do in my soul. I would surf a lot. I would travel a lot and do that. That is fulfilling, but behind it all, at night, for the other 225 nights or more than that per year, you’re like, “What am I doing?” I started writing magazine stories because I wanted to.

Do you mean on your own and would you submit them?

When you’re freediving, you're totally silent, and when you're totally silent, everything comes towards you. Click To Tweet

Yeah. I had a full-time job. I did this on weekends and at nighttime. I would read magazine stories and be like, “How cool would that be to have an excuse to go interview that person or to be able to travel and go explore the subject.” It took a long time. It took years and years of pitching. Zero responses from anyone. I didn’t know anyone in that world. Knowing people is even better than the skillset you have when it comes to journalism or maybe everything else.

Who you know is where you go kind of thing.

I learned a hard lesson. Maybe I should have started with that instead of pitching for so many years.

Are making copies and mailing them? Is this pre-email? 

No. This is email time. I was starting to pick up steam in 2004, 2005. I was writing for the San Francisco Chronicle when that was a newspaper and when they had a magazine. It allowed me to do all of these amazing things. I finally got in. I got to know the editor and she said, “You can write this piece, but we’re going to pay you nothing. It’s going to take you about two months to write.” I said, “I’m so stoked to be able to do this.”

What was it on? 

It was about Esperanto. This crazy artificial language was created over 120 years ago that was supposed to be the world language. Everyone would speak their native tongue and everyone would speak Esperanto so everyone can communicate. They’re still people speaking this language in some villages where this is the only language they speak. I thought this was so weird and so different from writing an ad copy about detergent. I was excited about it and that story went well. I wrote about some big wave surfers, running a Mercedes Benz on veggie oil, and kept churning those out. It was so fulfilling. The pay was garbage.

Did you keep your grownup job for a while?

Absolutely. Whenever people say, “I want to write magazine stories,” I say, “Do not quit the day job until you know you can do that because it takes years and years.” Especially now, it’s even more precarious because everyone wants content for free.

Also, the turnover. This is my new favorite thing. I almost have a rule in our house where we get is people sending us the questions and I’m like, “You want me to write the article for you in the interview?” If Laird and myself, on the rare occasion or whatever, I’m like, “How about we schedule a call and you can ask me the questions and you can write the article?” That’s the new way now.

Having been on the other side, that is the laziest trick to have people write your article about you. You’re doing that and I do the exact same thing. I know what they’re doing. I’m like, “You’re going to have to pick up the phone, you’re going to have to transcribe this, and you’re going to have to write the story. I can’t do your work for you.”

Yours would be good. Mine was only okay. Can you imagine you filling it out? You’re like, “James Nestor wrote my article. It’s amazing.” 

I have a feeling yours are pretty good. Don’t allow those people.

When I see it, I’m like, “You don’t know about the rule in my house,” because I’ve been around. You go and you say, “This is it.” I’m interested because a lot of people go through this in their life where they do what they think they’re supposed to do, they do the responsible thing, and then they either feel they’re too deep into their life. They’re officially grownups. They’re in their 30s. Do you have support from your family or do you keep it quiet and say, “Nobody can tell me anything because I’ve got my real job. I’m going to make this my passion and I’m going to do it.”

It’s the latter option there. I had zero support from anyone so it’s not like I suddenly got money and I was able to do this.

Or even friends saying, “That’s a great idea.” 

People would say, “You have a house, you have a nice situation here.” I had a staff, a nice office, and all of that. They’re like, “You worked so hard to get here. What do you want to throw this all the way for?” Without getting quasi-philosophical, you have to say, “This isn’t fulfilling.” The problem is that the option that I chose was the most precarious way of making a living.

To be a freelance journalist is a terrible way of paying rent or even buying food or keeping the lights on. If you don’t have a huge chunk of money in the bank, so many people are going to have to go back to their old jobs. I didn’t want to do that. If I wanted to go in this, it was all the way and I didn’t want to look back so I had to get to a point where I thought, “I can make the leap now and we’ll see what happens.”

Is Deep your first real book baby? 

Yeah, it is.

You do it as a magazine article and you go, “There’s a lot here.” I’d imagine you’d written so many articles on so many fascinating things. Maybe you can explain about freediving and such. People don’t understand how difficult of a craft it is to create, put together, and lean down a good book. It’s hard.

I get those emails every day. I don’t know how they find my email address but they seem to or they hunt you down and say, “I’m going to write my memoir. I want to write this book. I want to do this on the side. I’ve got about six months to do it.” Good luck. You can write a book that way but it’s probably not going to be good. You have to spend time and understand how to construct this story or have someone there to assist you. There’s a lot of ghostwriters who do wonderful work for someone who has an amazing story but doesn’t have the skillset to write that down in a way that will keep people reading.

I did freelance work for a long time and it was starting to pick up. I started writing for Outside Magazine a lot. They found me from the San Francisco Chronicle story and asked if I wanted to write, go to the Arctic Circle, and try to find some surf breaks there that no one had ever found before. From my job of sitting for 40 hours a week in an office to being out above the Arctic Circle for a month with a bunch of crazy people, I said, “This is where I need to be.” The pay was terrible but I’m like, “Someone’s paying me to go drive around for sixteen hours and look for freezing surf breaks here. Also, going to Russia and almost got arrested. This is wonderful. How can I keep this going?”

I started writing for other magazines but you never know. When things are going well, you have three stories in the can, you’ve got a couple of others that you’re planning for, it can all drop off. When the economy tanks, the first people to go are writers and editors. They’re the first people out the door. Eventually, I started writing about some things more specific to my real interests, which are water stuff, ocean stuff, biology, and surfing a little bit. That whole area had been pretty well-traversed. I was able to go out on a last-minute thing.

Outside Magazine called me and wanted me to go write about freediving. Even though I had grown up near the ocean and spent so many days in the water, I had never spent too much time underneath the surface.

I’ve been a scuba diver and that’s great. It’s fascinating and everything else, but I had never seen anyone free dive. The waters are pretty murky. You can go to Catalina and you can scuba out there. They sent me out to go to Greece. They said, “Do you want to go to Greece for a couple of weeks and write about the world freediving championship?” I said, “Of course, I do.”

James Nestor

James Nestor – Compensation is different from health. The body will find a way of keeping itself going but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be going in the right direction.

I went out there. The first day there, I was totally jet-lagged. You go out on this boat and there weren’t many journalists there at all. You go out to this platform and it’s about 600 feet deep where we were. The water is 300 feet. The sun’s up and you can watch these people take this single breath of air and they descend. It’s like they’re in outer space.

There are clips all over YouTube. If you’ve seen this, once you get past around 30 feet, the water no longer pulls you to the surface but your buoyancy reverses and you start gently falling. I didn’t know anything about this and it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen. It’s totally mystifying that here we are on this planet and we’re able to do these things.

Later that night, I called my editor and I said, “This is so amazing.” He had a hard time believing it. I called my mom. She didn’t know where I was on the planet. She’s like, “You better fact-check this because what you’re explaining is impossible. There’s an oxygen tank down there and these people are kidding you.” Of course, there isn’t. Enough people would have taken oxygen. Their lungs would have exploded as they came out. I was completely blown away by that world and was lucky enough to meet people who weren’t competitors. The competitors were amazing but they were a different breed.

They always are. The reasons for doing things say so much about the person.

You get different personality types. They were friendly but they had these blinders on where they were only interested in that one thing and they’re amazing at what they do. That’s great if someone wants to do that.

Laird always says, “Creative people are interested in the experience and competitive people are interested in beating others.” I feel like I’m more competitive and he’s all about the experience. It is interesting when you add, “I had the record.” No, they beat your record. Now you’ve got to get the record. It’s all that cycle where if someone goes down and they get something from the experience that only is for them, then they’re already successful. That’s quiet to me, too, when I meet people that when they do it, it’s like, “I know. I experienced it. I went through it.” 

I feel like it’s a better way to go in the long run in everything because it’s all unsustainable. When you walk away and you go, “That was so rich for me and I have it inside me,” that’s the win, I would imagine. Was it the quiet? Was it the superhumanness? Was it almost going to under space? What was it that beat you?

It was watching the human body have these abilities that we’re all born with and yet so few of us ever realize and these people had managed to tap into it the same abilities that dolphins have, seals have, and whales have. We have them, too. To watch these people who have honed this ability to do something that is supposed to be medically and scientifically impossible and yet they do it every day, it got me thinking, “What else can we do that we’ve been told we can’t?”

While I was out at the competition, I was lucky enough to meet some of those more experiential free divers, not just the people who were focused on the number and focused on getting the prize. That’s fine. If that’s what they want to do, that’s great but a lot of these people came up with blood all over their face and wiped it off. One guy came up dead for a couple of minutes and was resuscitated and laughed about it. I said, “It’s so beautiful what you’re doing but you’re insane at the same time.” How do you bridge those two things? I want to be clear. They’re comfortable with their insanity and I’m comfortable with it, too.

I wrote about it but personally, I was more interested in these people who were there and they told me, “You’re seeing this one side of freediving. Once you come with us, I want to show you this other side, this underwater yoga, this underwater meditation, this way that you can connect not only with yourself intimately but with other oceanic life. When you’re freediving, you’re totally silent. When you’re totally silent, everything comes towards you.” That immediately interested me. About 1.5 or 2 months after that, I was out on another assignment to write about freediving in a different way.

I want to get into The Click Effect because letting people see how this being there quietly does invite all of these other creatures to come towards you, near you, and with you. How do you then go, “I write magazine articles and now I’m going to write a book.” Where does one begin to even understand how to organize? You have an editor and that’s helpful because they’re great guides. A great editor is gold. How do you think, “I’m going to start my book.”

When I started looking at free diving, not just as free diving, but as this other way of understanding the human body, I thought a book about freediving was going to be unit dimensional. It was a great article. A magazine with 10,000 words, no problem but for 100,000 words, that’s a lot of words. I thought that if I was able to extend that and to relate it more to people who would never free dive, relate it to people who were in the water who love the ocean. Then I could expand this story in more directions and make this more of a universal tale.

A lot of people think that Deep is about freediving but it’s not. It starts off with that because what it’s looking at is the human connection to the ocean from the surface to the deepest ocean in the whole world, the Marianas Trench. Every chapter is going deeper. Towards the surface, there’s a lot of freediving. Throughout the rest of the book, there are little parts of freedom because it allows you access to these other elements in the ocean.

Most of it is not about free divers. It’s about the reader and that’s what my editor kept saying. He’s like, “Every page should have a little mirror back on the reader to help them understand their body in a different way.” I liked that and I said, “I can’t do a book on freediving but I can do a book on that,” then I go out and try to write it.

How many years did that take you?

They put me on a crazy deadline because they thought it was hot stuff, which was exciting and I like the pressure. When you’re working with constraints, it requires you to work more creatively. For about 1 to 1.5 years, I was on the road all the time and I loved it. I love going out and having an excuse to meet with people all over the world, learn their stories, and quietly listen.

Where it got problematic is you come back and you’ve got 4,000 pages of notes. It’s like, “Now I need to put this into 300 pages and it needs to make sense.” That’s where it became a real struggle. Not that process but the pressure cooker of, “We need this out as a summer book. This needs to be a beach read.” If you don’t have it out, there goes your advance. When you don’t have a big fund to lean back on, it’s a great motivator.

Survival is still quite excellent. All of a sudden, I feel creative.

It’s that writer’s block. It disappears and it’s weird. For sixteen hours a day, I don’t have it.

I watched one of these shows on Netflix. I wish I remembered the series name. It was great. One of the guys was a cartoonist and he went every day to his office at 9:00 AM. He’s like, “If you think that creativity is going to come and hit you…” He goes, “It hits me when I sit at my desk every day at 9:00 AM.” There’s something to be said for discipline. People don’t realize that even around creativity, discipline is there, as well in pressure, necessity, or things like that.

It’s not only that, but it has to be a genuine interest in the subject. You can show up every day for twelve hours a day but if you’re like, “This sucks. I don’t want to be here,” that’s going to come out in a negative way, especially when you’re writing something that is supposed to be easy and fun to read. I can read books now and say, “This chapter was rushed.”

You can feel it. 

You can see that with magazine stories.

Because now we’re writing it for them. This is now that people hopefully are going to start traveling again. When I hear, “I go on the road. I’m on the road for a year or longer,” how do you take care of yourself during that time? Do you have small practices because you could be definitely in different time zones and have access to all kinds of food? I’m always intrigued by the ways that people figure out how to take care of themselves. You hear people all the time go, “I’m on the road and it all goes out the window.” How’d you do it? You look healthy.

Back then, I was more scrappy. This was years ago. Maybe a little tougher. I was sleeping in airports. I was trying to eat well. This is so cliché but it is true. I’m not trying to eat airplane garbage food and maybe fasting for that time and eating when you get there. Bringing your own food is important. Trying to keep track of your sleep schedule is another important thing, which is hard when you’re bouncing time zones over and over again. You certainly know this.

95% of the diseases that we contend with are diseases of “civilization.” They’re diseases we gave ourselves. Click To Tweet

The joy and excitement of being in a place, even though you’re denied proper nutrition, even though you’re sleep-deprived, you’re hanging out with this person or with this culture that you’ve been studying for a long time. You finally landed the interview. You’re thrilled. There’s a different set of hormones that takes over and compensates for all the deficiencies you have. When you get older and you’re able to have a little more luxury, then you get a little more pickled and spoiled, which is fine because you have to. Your body’s aging and you get a lot more picky about the foods you’re eating and bringing your own tea with you, which I do.

You start talking about the pillow and stuff at the hotel. It’s like, “What is wrong with me?” The other side of that is your real life. You’re single, right? 

No, I’m married.

Your wife is able to be like, “I’ll see you in a few weeks.” 

She’d love that. She loves us seeing ten days. She works from the house. Since the pandemic, she moved her business into the house. We’re around each other 24/7.

Tell me about it. I was joking with my friends, I go, “Today could have been a day that’s like, ‘Let’s wrap it up. I loved you for over 25 years. I see the way you’re looking at me and you feel the same way.’” It isn’t even the person. It’s the amount of time together. I can barely be with myself. I know how to ignore myself in a way like, “Oh.” That’s interesting that you can navigate a real life because sometimes people feel it’s an either/or but it’s also being with the right person who’s like, “I totally get it and I get you. This is who you are and I back you.”

She met me when I was already doing this and I said, “This is part of what I do.” It’s interesting because we’ve been married for more than five years, but she had never seen the process of someone writing a book. She’d seen a little bit of the research, “I’m going to be away for ten days. I’m going to be in Mauritius for a few weeks.” “Cool. Come back and everything’s fine.”

She hadn’t seen the unglamorous process of self-hate and complete lack of self-esteem that goes on for about 1.5, 2, 3 years, where you’re like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I have to give up. There’s no way I can finish this. All the research is here and there’s a cool story. I can’t do it.” “If I keep working away, there’s a little crack in this. There’s the light. I’m going to go towards that light.” “It turns out I have to scrap this entire 125,000-word manuscript and start over again.” She hadn’t seen that because I had been single during those stages of the intense and that’s a great time to be single because you can become a complete neurotic. It comes with a balance.

Was Breath her first?

Yes. During Deep was much easier. I would go up to Inverness, which is north of San Francisco, and rent a house for a couple of months and do the cliché thing with my dog and work all day.

Not answer the phone.

There’s no service and it’s so awesome. It was good.

Susan Casey is a friend of ours. I’m scared of her. When she’s going through it, she’s like, “Gabby, I have a deadline.” I’m like, “See you in six months.” I would never even have the courage to call her. It’s like, “You call when you want to call,” because you just know. If you’re a real friend, you do not call.

Here’s a real journalist who delivers the goods.

That’s what I mean, I don’t mess with her. 

You have to do the work. There’s no way of getting around that and she knows how to do the work. She was outside for a while, got her chops there, and now her books are huge.

In a few years, she’ll say top to bottom to do a book for her. She’s like, “I cannot do a book quicker than three years.” 

It depends what kind of book it is. If it’s a history of Lincoln, you’re not traveling too much. There’s a lot of good history of Lincoln out there. You’re sitting at the desk every day and you’re doing research. It’s different if you were forced for every chapter to go out in the field exactly what she does. That is chipping away your time to write. That time to sit and become a neurotic weirdo shrinks and shrinks, which means it’s going to be that more intense. If someone hasn’t seen that process, they’re like, “You were short and clogs and you do this for ten days in a row?”

What she said from promoting and pitching and doing all of that is five. That’s what it was. It was selling it, hopefully, in advance, getting a deal, doing the book process, and doing the promotion. It was five years for one book.

She’s a machine, though. Some people can kick them out quicker than that but then there are some superhumans where you’re like, “How the hell do you do this? Every single year, you kick something out.” Five years, including the promo, is a little aggressive. You have to be a pro and have a lot of discipline. I don’t think you don’t want it to go on much longer because when it does, then you start cutting yourself excuses for saying that.

I want to mention The Click Effect because to me, it feels like it’s that representation of one thing leading to the next. I even feel that Breath comes from Deep. It’s so tied together as far as the essence of life and air. Maybe you could share about The Click Effect and what your hope was with that.

Once the book came out, I got a lot of interest from some marine biologists saying, “This is what we’ve been talking about for a long time.” Part of the book is exploring when you’re looking at human connections. It’s also exploring communication that these animals, especially marine mammals, all animals, jellyfish are communicating in ways we can’t even fathom. They’ve been on this planet for tens of millions of years, which means they’ve developed communication systems far superior to our own than vocal language.

We’ve known this for over 70 years. It’s been scientifically studied but still, a lot of people think this is New Age woo-woo stuff because they are associated with crystals and rainbows. All that stuff is great but from a real scientific perspective, I was so floored by the depth of knowledge that some scientists had in this field that they spent decades. It’s like, “What if you could talk with another animal? What if that animal was a water animal and not a terrestrial animal? What do they experience? What’s that like if there is a consciousness that we could connect to?”

I realize this sounds a little flaky, but I took it from a scientific perspective. When the book came out, I got some interest from marine biologists who wanted to start doing more research in this field. I also got some interest from a filmmaker who said, “This would be a good VR subject.” I said, “Yeah.” VR was booting up then and it was also a great excuse to go out and dive with some friends and to explore their work in a different way. One of the reasons VR didn’t take off is a lot of people were doing VR films inside a closed room. It’s like, “I can turn around and see your bookcase.” What’s the point of that?

Go to my house and look around. 

Many of the pieces were like that. When you’re freediving, you’re in inner space. It’s like outer space but you’re here on Earth and it seemed like a good medium to be used to try to take people down into what it feels to be clicked by these whales that vibrate your chest and warm your body. They’re looking at you with eyes that are this big. They have this ancient knowledge and they’re trying to send you a hello. We know this. I said, “This is a cool thing.” We went out and shot this thing, which was fantastic. Partly because I didn’t have to do much. I had already written it so I got to go freediving with these guys and free dive with some dolphins and stuff which is great for a day job gig.

When I hear stuff like that, it almost makes me weepy to think of these animals that are willing to come that close to you. The fact that you’re quiet, you’re not on air, and that you’re there in their world in their way, I feel like we underestimate it so greatly. To even have the opportunity to either see it in the VR or hear you talk about it is a reminder about how connected and intuitive they are because we don’t see them all the time, we don’t give it that credit.

James Nestor

James Nestor – The good thing with knowledge and acknowledgment is we don’t have to keep making the same mistakes.

A lot of conservation efforts have been placed on the negative side of it, which is good to educate people on dolphin slaughters, whale slaughters but I’m not sure how effective that’s been. If we’re able to take people down and see the real magic of these animals, see how intelligent they are, and see that we have so much to learn from them. Maybe they would be able to appreciate these animals and other life in the ocean more.

Every single person I know who has had the experience of diving with a whale that’s the size of a school bus think of what we’ve done to them in the past. We hunted them to the brink of extinction. We’re terrorizing them with sonar. We’re terrorizing them with boats. This is what we’ve done and yet, this animal who could come up and chomp you with its eight-inch-long teeth that you can see could kill you in 400 different ways. Instead, it chooses to grab its calf, nudge its calf over to you, come up as close as I am to you, and start sending out clicks and looking at you.

I know this sounds spacey but go out and do it. Once you have that, you’re like, “I totally get it now.” People I know who are the most conservative people on the planet have had this experience. Once that door opens, it never closes. The Click Effect was a way of getting this out to other people, to my mom, who never do this stuff. Hopefully, to help bolster some conservation efforts, which is exactly what it did.

Project CETI, Cetacean Translation Initiative, was now funded and got the TED Audacious Prize and it’s the largest community interspecies communication project ever done. I’m the batboy on this. I’m on the outside trying to help them when I can. The rest of the people work at MIT and Harvard, and they’re the top of the top. If anyone’s going to do it, it’s going to be them. The world needs this now more than ever.

It’s interesting because we can talk to each other and yet we’re becoming less connected. I feel like in every front, to be more connected with every living creature here, not only each other. It’s a joke. My dog walked in.

I was petting him.

He’s like, “There’s a new guy. Maybe he’s got some meat that he wants to give me.” I look at him and I go, “This dog is appropriate all the time.” If we came in a group and he hadn’t seen you in the longest amount of time and he knows you, he will spend the most time with you. He would be like, “James, I haven’t seen you in so long.” When it’s time to chill, he chills. If it’s time to get up and go, he goes. When you think about sea mammals, I feel like they show us all the time, “This would be a good way to be.”

This is something a marine biologist told me and I would love to steal it but I want to give this guy credit. Whales and dolphins are so smart. We know they are six times our brain size, have a neocortex, spindle cells, and all of that. We know all that, but a lot of people say, “If they’re so smart, why are they running the world? Why aren’t they building an Eiffel Tower?” His response to that was like, “I wouldn’t predicate being able to ruin your environment and take over the world and make a planet that is unsustainable for future generations a sign of intelligence. If that were the case, cancer would be the most intelligent life form on the planet because it’s devastating everything.”

You look at an animal like how a sperm whale has been around for 50 million years, they have a perfect system. They’re perfect stewards of this planet. Their populations were in check for millions of years. They had a system so they would never overpopulate and they would never ruin their environment. You look at other animals that also have the same system. Ancient cultures had the same system. How long were Native Americans in the US? For thousands of years. They had perfect systems of sustainability. There are different levels of intelligence. There is mathematics. There are different kinds.

The word would not be humanity. It would be the ability to coexist and exist correctly with your environment. We don’t give that kind of IQ a lot. I was listening to some reporter who was saying, “Let’s face it. If you want it to be empowered, if you want to be the guy or the girl, you’re probably a little bit of a sociopath. Why would you want to take that on?” Unless it was like, “I’m a steward for change,” but that’s also still a little bit different. I appreciate that. Breath made everyone cross so many categories of people. This book hit a mainstream line. Why did you write this book?

It wasn’t something that I set out to do. It seems like this logical transition.

That’s what I thought. I was like, “Perfect.” 

Years ago, one writer told me, “For nonfiction, it’s lighting one cigarette of the other cigarette,” which is probably a bad analogy for a book about breathing and deep diving. I said, “That’s interesting. I wonder what my next book is going to be,” because I did not know. Once I started finding some science on this stuff and I started exploring breathwork and having some weird experiences that no one else could explain, my doctor and none of my other friends who were medical researchers could explain. I thought, “This is interesting what happened to me, but I don’t write memoirs. I don’t want to write books about me. I want to write books about the reader.”

When you said that, I remember you lowered your blood pressure. What are some of the things that you went through that people couldn’t explain?

I was in a state of having a lot of stress in my life. I was rebuilding my house. I was under work stress and all that. A doctor friend suggested I check out a breathing class. In San Francisco, these things are on every street corner so it’s not too hard to find. I picked one at random. I did the whole intro class. It was okay. It wasn’t until a few weeks or it might have been 1, 1.5 months after that I did a follow-up session and sat in the corner.

You did it once and a couple of weeks later. 

I did it again and it’s this hour-long breathwork so it’s intense. When I first did it, I was like, “That’s interesting,” but it didn’t transform me. I thought the science was there. There were dozens and dozens of independent studies done at top universities showing what it did for blood pressure, showing what it did for even blood sugar, and what it did for autoimmune diseases. We know that but a lot of other breathwork practices can do the same thing. Yoga can do the same thing. Exercise can do that.

It wasn’t until I did a follow-up session, in which I sat in the corner of this room and breathed in this rhythmic pattern for a little while. Legs crossed because it was San Francisco so it’s freezing. After about 10 to 15 minutes, I started sweating a sweat I’ve never had in my whole life even while exercising, boxing, or whatever. There was sweat pouring out of me. My hair was sopping wet and went down my face.

What was the pattern in this sequence?

It’s called Sudarshan Kriya and it’s similar to Kundalini, which is similar to Wim Hof. They’re all the same thing, which is what I tried to explain in the book. They’re variations on this theme. It’s extremely intense breathing as fast and as hard you can, and slow and holding your breath and intense. It’s like these waves. You stimulate your body and you calm your body.

You learn by doing that how to control your nervous system function so you can stimulate stress and even better, you can reduce it. I had so much pent-up that I had a severe reaction to it, which is great. It felt great but nobody could describe it. I told my doctor and she said, “You had a fever. The room was too hot. You shouldn’t have been wearing that down jacket.” She knew it.

She’s just throwing it on the wall. 

She couldn’t explain it. Other people were there and saw me and they were a little freaked out. I didn’t do anything with that experience for a few years. I kept it in the back because I didn’t want to write a memoir about it but I kept finding research. That file folder in the back of the office kept growing, of how breathing turns out to be one of the most effective interventions for asthma, COPD, even posture problems, and ADHD.

We went from hunting and gathering to farming. The first incidents of widespread crooked teeth were in those cultures. Click To Tweet

All of this started building to the point where I talked to my literary agent, I said, “I have my new book. It’s about breathing. It’s about breath. This is what it’s about.” She said, “That is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. You need to go back to work and find an actual good idea that we can sell to a publisher.” I’m a little stubborn but I listened to her. I’ve known her forever. She’s my closest confidant.

Did you bounce it off your wife? 

I did and she was somewhat interested but not much. Her father-in-law is a pulmonologist. He’s been a leader in the field for a long time so I started talking to him. I was like, “I read this article that if you adopt different breathing practices, you can increase your CO2 and sometimes completely reverse asthma.” He’s like, “No.”

He’s like, “Why did my daughter marry this guy?” 

I started asking him, “What’s the healthiest way to breathe? Is it 4 in and 4 out? Is it 4 and 6? Is it 5 and 5?” He’s like, “I don’t know. That’s not what I do.”

He’s like, “I give you pills and get you other stuff.” 

He’s like, “If you get in a car accident, I’m the guy to see. If you get emphysema, I’m the guy you see.” Many doctors are like, “I deal with the working dead. We can only get them into the system once they’re so bad.” Some people are like, “You’re not bad enough. Come back when you’re bad so we can check you through.” Everyone was telling me, “No,” but I kept finding stuff.

What was popping up? Who was biting you if you were like, “Ugh.” 

It was the Herbert Benson stuff that I mentioned in Deep, where these monks can sit in the snow for eight hours at a time and melt the snow around them. They’re wearing a thin sheet and they’re sitting there breathing slowly.

I always like that and drying the sheets. It’s like, “Come on. Who are these people?”

It’s the same guys. No one would believe that if a guy from Harvard Medical School wasn’t there conducting the study, which was published in Nature which is the leading scientific journal in the world. I kept going back to that and I said, “Asthma is freaking child’s play compared to what they’re doing.” I found Swami Rama, this guy who flutters his heartbeat 300 beats a minute and changes the temperature on his same hand.

What was that? It’s 300 beats per minute for 30 seconds or something. 

He said that he can do it for an hour but they recorded him for under a minute. He was like, “You weren’t recording before because I’ve been doing this for a little while.” If you don’t believe that, the fact that he could look and focus on different areas of his body and change the temperature eleven degrees on the same hand was gray on one area and flush red with circulation. He could direct his blood flow from one area to the next.

If you think about that, “Can breathing help autoimmune disease ADHD?” Of course, it can if these people are doing this. He was written in the New York Times. Everyone’s forgotten this guy had done this and these studies were conducted. I came back to my agent months later. I was working on some freelance stuff and I said, “You’re wrong. There’s a book here. It could be of interest not just to weirdos. Breathing is something that we all do and we’re not doing it as well as we could. This could be an interesting story.”

We were able to sell that proposal. You spent months and months on this proposal. It’s 60 pages. Nonfiction is different. You write the mini book and I still didn’t know 90% of what is included in that book when I was doing that. I had to throw out that six months of work. Once I started getting deep into this research, I discovered, “We’re not just breathing inadequately, we’re destroyed from our decision to move into industrial food, how it has destroyed our faces, it’s destroyed our airways, it’s destroyed our breathing. This is why we have so many chronic diseases.”

Our heads were wider and bigger shaped and we were only nose breathing pretty much. You talk about the beautiful amount of space and the straightness of teeth including the oldest jaws found. You’d see this person and you would think it was somebody from one of the commercials like GEICO or whatever. The teeth are perfectly straight because there’s room. Years ago, processed food so we’re not chewing as much. We’re 1, 2, and down. Now our faces are getting more narrow and smaller, and so is our nose. 

A lot of people have read this book. Sometimes when you equip them with the understanding of what’s happened, they also understand how to participate in improving and that you can improve it all of the time. There are some interesting stories about when you block the nose passageways on some monkeys for quite a long time in an experiment, two years. 

I was not the person to do that.

Not you, I’m sorry. I’m reporting on this. They were sick, not feeling well, depressed, and had all of these issues. It was almost two years. Once they unplugged the nose, it took about six months, but the structure of the face went back to wider on the animals and things like that. People need to understand that maybe you could explain modern man’s face. 

We had perfectly straight teeth for the last 2.5 million years as long as the Homo species has been walking around the planet. That started changing centuries ago. What happened was we went from chewing for hours a day even when we were farming foods. Farming booted up around 12,000 years ago. This is a fascinating statement that didn’t make it into the book. We went from hunting and gathering to farming. The first incidents of widespread crooked teeth were in those cultures. The second we switched from farming to eating this mono-diet of soft food that happened, it didn’t spread out because we started diversifying our diet. Those were outliers.

After that, we were still farming. Our teeth were perfectly straight because the food was still relatively unprocessed. Fast forward, 11,500 years, we developed ways of ripping the bran and germ from wheat. The same thing with rice. All we have is this diet of stuff and jars, stuff and cans, stuff that is processed, stuff that is soft. If you look at industrialized cultures, the ones that took on this food Britain is one of the first ones. Look what happened to their teeth.

Not only that, but they started shrinking in size. There are reports from 150 years ago where they couldn’t find soldiers because everyone was too short. Because everyone was eating this food, they were shrinking and their mouths were shrinking. They were having the classic Dickensian smile. A hundred years before that, the Dickensian kid would have perfectly straight teeth. It’s so bizarre how quickly this happened and how widespread it became. 90% of us have some deformation in our jaws. Malocclusion is what it’s called.

I had braces, I had extractions, I had headgear, and I had all that crap. It was never if you were going to do it but when. Every single person I knew had those things like having wisdom teeth extracted. Do you think our ancestors were extracting each other’s wisdom teeth? This has become so widespread that we expect that it’s normal. You realize how divorced we become from our true nature. 95% of the diseases that we contend with are diseases of “civilization.” They’re diseases we gave ourselves.

A lot of those diseases, not all of them, can be linked in some cases to dysfunctional breathing. When you have a mouth that grows too small that your teeth have nowhere to grow into the growing crooked, you have a smaller airway. That upper palate of your mouth grows up in your sinus cavity. You can’t breathe through your nose so what do you do? You breathe through your mouth and your face grows this, it gets narrower, and your profile is changed. If you don’t believe me, go and look around or look in the mirror because the vast majority of us have had this issue.

We were all in this wave of when you’re looking at self-care, I don’t always call it health and fitness because that seems like you’re in the gym and you’re weighing your food. I’m talking about self-care and trying to be a human being that feels pretty good more often than not, getting good rest, and trying to participate and be kind to their neighbor. A good citizen. 

For me, self-care is to help us be our optimum selves, whatever that is for us. I appreciate this about Wim Hof because through these feats. I got people looking at breathing like, “It’s interesting.” It was Patrick McKeown for me. The Oxygen Advantage is what I was like, “This is so simple. It made so much sense.” I’ll explain it my third-grade way and I love to go deeper into patterns with you. 

My understanding was that your mouth is typically giving you about three times as much air as your nose. When people can’t get access through their noses, we become mouth breathers. We’re sitting a lot. We’re hunched over so our lungs don’t have a ton of room. We are scrubbing our CO2 all day long so it’s uncomfortable. 

Patrick talks about your BOLT score, your ability, your tolerance for CO2. I see it in a pool training. We do a lot of pool training underwater. I will say to people, “You’re going to come to a place where you start to think, ‘I’m out of oxygen,’ the reality is you’re not. You’ve got plenty of oxygen. You’re meeting the envelope of your CO2 and your tolerance for CO2.” 

It’s weird because when you say to somebody, “You’re not out of air. This is something else.” It almost makes them more comfortable because the idea of not having oxygen makes people anxious, understandably, especially underwater. It was an interesting thing to go, “This is interesting.” If we close our mouths, CO2 is present. For those of you reading, you’re breathing oxygen in and out through your nose. Typically, the nose gets it down deeper into the diaphragm so it gives you this long slower breath, bigger breath, deeper breath, which also can make you more relaxed and less anxious. 

Because you have CO2 in your system, you can absorb the oxygen that’s in your bloodstream into your cells and tissue. This is my third great understanding of, “I can’t absorb oxygen if I don’t have the presence of CO2 in my system. Now I have the opportunity to slow down the amount of breaths.” I know you write in the book, “5.5 breaths, 5.5 in, 5.5 out, leading to about 5.5 insets in a minute.” Most of us are thinking anywhere between 13 and 15 or something like that. I’m not sure. 

For me, I was like, “This is so funny. It’s free. You can do it everywhere.” The other thing is like, “How do we support everybody who’s too busy to figure it out, who is trying to keep the lights on? You say, “You need an extra two hours a day to exercise and you need extra hundreds of dollars to eat organic.” The thing that was so powerful for me is that you could do this anywhere. It was a tool. 

James Nestor

James Nestor – You can’t free dive if you’re not connected to your body and your breath.

That’s what got us launched into, “Now we can talk about performance and how do you down-regulate or up-regulate.” I do want to get into that. When I read the Oxygen Advantage, I was like, “Interesting. That makes sense.” Patrick wrote it because he had the same thing. His face is incredibly narrow. He’s like, “My teeth were a mess.” Who’s the dentist who wrote the book in the 50s? What’s his name? 

John Mew?

No. There’s another one who studied ancient tribes and the jaws worldwide. He talked about a lot of people. 

Weston Price?

Correct. Laird is sitting downstairs, reading a book years ago on Weston Price. He’s like, “Look at this.” He talked about deform palates, not being able to absorb minerals and nutrients. A lot of these people then either end up mentally ill or other. Based on that book, my youngest daughter’s face, when she was little, was tongue-tied. She nursed fine so I didn’t pick up on it but what people don’t realize is in the old days, the wet nurses used to have a nail. 

When the baby came out and if the tongue was not released underneath, they snipped it. That would also let the tongue rise to the roof of the mouth so the jaw could be opened in such. There are so many things that are in our history that we’ve become so disconnected from. That’s what I appreciate about breath. It’s a reminder that this is a tool for everyone.

Wherever you live, whatever your gender, even if you’re not interested, you’re like, “I don’t want to put on a pair of sneakers,” that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the tool of breathing correctly to support not only your physical but more importantly, your emotional well-being. Maybe we could do some of the basics. What I would love to start with is the diaphragm. Most people can’t. My experience has been, they go, “I don’t know how to get the breath into the diaphragm.” It’s so hard for them. 

Lay down first. I find that if I have them do things where you put the finger on the belly button right below and say, “Can you get your stomach to rise up and stick your belly out even if you can’t,” and tune up the diaphragm that way. Don’t even worry about the whole thing. That was a good start. That helped me a lot.

Patrick was right on and I discovered his book later on in the process of research. I was tongue-tied forever and it got clipped when I was 10 or 11.

Why did they clip it? Who clipped it? Was it your dentist?

Somebody noticed it and I had to go in and get a clip. That was the first surgery I’ve ever had so I remember it. I didn’t think anything was wrong with it but you’re a kid and you’re always sticking your tongue out at people. I could not do that. I don’t know why somebody noticed it then and didn’t notice it earlier. That affects the formation of your face. When your tongue is that and it can’t saddle the roof of your mouth here, you need that expansion and that pressure from the tongue every time you’re swallowing to go to the roof of the mouth. If it’s not, you’re going to push your teeth out of alignment and it’s going to affect not only how you look but it’s going to affect your airway and your ability to breathe.

I am so lucky to be good friends with Patrick. I was talking with him as well as Wim. Especially if you look at what Wim has done, he has brought to the attention the wondrous ways that breathing can affect the body, especially for illness. He’s got 26 world Records. All that stuff’s super cool and amazing but the real stuff to me is someone with an autoimmune disease that they were told was incurable or someone who has psoriasis or eczema or even MS.

He’s able to get these people and rebalance their bodies. Not everyone, but a large percentage of them show measurable gains by focusing on their breathing and taking a cold bath every once in a while. That ability to allow the human body to heal itself is his real gift to the world, and he would say the same thing. With breathing and CO2, if you talked about all the ways that humans are divorced from our breathing, we’re divorced from the biomechanics, we’re divorced from the biochemistry, we’re divorced in every way.

People say, “What do you mean by I’m not breathing correctly?” Look at how we’re sitting. Look at how we’re breathing at night, look at how we’re breathing in the daytime. You can get by doing this. This is something Patrick and I talk a lot about. He was still alive when he had asthma, sleep apnea, and allergies and was miserable but compensation is different from health. The body will find a way of keeping itself going but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be going in the right direction or in the right way and eventually, it’s going to break down.

A lot of us are getting by. We’re compensating. I can get by eating twenty Twinkies a day. I can get my calories. I could survive on that but after a while, things are not going to turn out too good for me. With breathing, the message I tried to get through to people was this isn’t about making another compromise in your life. This doesn’t mean you have to go to another market to get special clothes, to get more supplements, to get more minerals or anything.

Our breath is something we carry with us all the time. You can improve your breathing while answering emails, watching Netflix, and exercising at any time, and show measurable change to your body. We get the majority of our energy from our breath. Not from food and drink, but from breathing. If you don’t believe me, hold your breath for five minutes and see how your body’s going to function after that.

Hydration as well. It can go down brain function, hormone function, circulation, and heartbeat. Why don’t you take an inhale to 3 and exhale to 8 and feel what happens to your heart? Within a few seconds, we can fundamentally change how our bodies are operating. If you can do that in a few seconds, what’s going to happen after a couple of weeks or a couple of months? I’ll show you. I’ll show you people who have massively transformed their health and improved their lives by doing this.

Where we tend to be short-sighted, at least where I was short-sighted, is when you look at biochemistry. Biochemistry is important and CO2 is important but you also have to be looking at the biomechanics of it because the diaphragm isn’t the pump to allow air in and out of the body. It’s also pumping lymph fluid. If you don’t have that circulation and that lymph fluid circulation, your body is going to start to back up.

It turns out that the diaphragm, some researchers have said that it’s our primary pump. The heart is a secondary pump. You see these people that are breathing into their chests. Not only are they offloading too much CO2, which makes it harder for your body to get oxygen. They’re stressing their bodies out. It’s like when you’re rowing. That’s an analogy I use in the book. You want to row across a lake. Are you going to take a million teeny little strokes? You’ll get there. Or do you want to take some fluid, easy strokes and get there faster with less effort?

I read a couple of books by Belisa Vranich. For people reading, if they need a tool to practice, she has some directive things. They even talk about not only being a book for digestion and such, if it’s not moving fully up and down, the system works so beautifully. That’s another great tool for people to do. I’ve got a lot of people asking me and I was also interested in Homeoblock. Let’s say someone’s reading, if you have children, there are some clear directives on what you can do to help them move into their life because they’re malleable. Let’s say someone’s going, “I’m 40 and I’ve been sitting at my desk for twenty years,” where would you start?

This is going to sound so boring. I know that everyone wants a magical hot hack but I’m not going to give that to you. It starts with breathing awareness. It starts when you sit down and answer emails. Notice how you’re breathing or you can wear a wearable to help gauge your breathing for you. It starts when you’re walking around. Are you breathing out of your mouth? When you go to bed at night, do you wake up with a dry mouth? Are you drinking water all the time?

Once you become aware of that, what you will find is you are breathing in a dysfunctional way. Once you acknowledge that, you can make these baby steps. This isn’t about going totally turbo into this stuff, “I’m going to be the most awesome breather as quickly as I can.” Trust me, so many dudes have written, “We’re going all the way.” They’re going to kick their breath’s ass, which is great.

You can do that but it’s going to be a lot more constructive for you to softly acclimate your body into this stuff, especially if you’ve had bad habits. I’ve been a mouth breather at night for as long as I’ve known. That’s why I would go to bed with a glass of water, whether it’s a hotel room or whatever. I thought this was normal. I was like, “Why didn’t somebody tell me this years ago?” 60% to 70% of the population sleeps with an open mouth. That’s bad news across the board.

Start with those simple things and you can work up to Wim Hof Method, you can work up to Sudarshan Kriya, but start with nasal breathing. For advice for parents and for kids, their airways should be checked out at six months. Even before that, I’ve been talking with a lot of pediatric dentists about this and they’re starting this whole new initiative about breathing awareness. You would be so amazed by how many infants suffer from snoring and sleep apnea.

If you’re stressing out a kid for twelve hours a day while they’re sleeping, they’re not getting enough oxygen, they’re stressing, this is going to have bad downstream effects on every level of their health, mentally, physically, increased risk of diabetes, increased risk of neurological issues. I could go on and on because of course, it would. You’re developing so quickly if you’re not getting proper nutrition and we get a lot of our nutrition from air, oxygen. If you’re not getting proper energy, your body will keep itself alive but it’s not going to be able to develop in the right ways.

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You always hear inflammation. I hate to say it but it’s not protein right after a workout. If you do a deep breathing session, it could be ten minutes, these are the quickest ways to handle and manage inflammation in your body whether it’s from exercise or stress. I always thought it was interesting nursing my kids because you realize right then that’s your first practice of being a nose breather because you’re on. 

They latch on and you hear them working it all out and you think, “That’s interesting.” They’re able to do both simultaneously. When your kid gets stuffed up and they have to nurse and they’re irritated, you realize it’s a powerful thing. You said something important. I find this, especially with females. What I always say is that we always hold our guts in, our bellies in. We’re afraid to be soft and let the lower belly be soft and out there. 

Working against gravity is hard so I would say to people is laying down seems the most gentle way to start getting out from underneath gravity a little bit and slowly pulling that breath in. You’ll see people usually by the time they start it’s 2 and 3 seconds and they feel they can’t pull any more air in. That’s okay because this is not a competition. You will be able to get to the point we are at 7, 8, 9 seconds and you’ll feel how you can start to open up your ribs and there’s room for your lungs but it takes a little bit of time. 

All the tissue is developed if you’re sitting all day long and it’s tight, you might want to give it some time to let it open up from the inside. That’s an important suggestion because everything’s a competition. I was looking at my wearable and I recovered this quickly and it’s like, “Even that.” It seems counterintuitive to be like, “I’m going to hit my breath.” You can use it for performance at upregulating. If someone was going to go into an important meeting and they wanted to be alert, and maybe more on the offensive, if you will, what kind of pattern would you give them?

Everyone is different. I can tell you a few tricks that I’ve learned. As a journalist, I keep out of the advice. I don’t wear that hat too often but as you have certainly seen with the people that you’ve worked with, somebody who can hold their breath for five seconds is going to be responding differently than Laird or you or somebody who has focused on their breath for a long time. What you can do though is to build that foundation of awareness, that foundation of start holding your breath for five seconds. Next week, do it to seven.

If you’ve been sitting on a couch for twenty years, you’re not going to go out and run a marathon. It’s going to destroy your body so don’t try to push it that quickly. If you’re talking about people who are normally stressed or anxious or people who are sleepy who want to jack themselves up, it depends. What I’ve found is something everyone can benefit from is to even your breaths out.

You can think about your inhalation as the stimulating breath and we know that this is what happens. Because you can place your hand on your heart, every time you inhale, you’ll feel your heart rate increase. When you exhale, it decreases. That’s how heart rate variability is calculated. All those wearables, that’s what it is. That’s the magic formula right there.

Taking that premise, if you exhale longer than you’re inhaling, you’re going to be calming your body down, which is why you have box breathing, 4 in, hold 4, exhale 4, hold 4. What are you doing? You’re holding your breath or exhaling for 3/4 of the time. What’s going to happen to your body? It’s going to get calm. Sometimes you want that little burst of energy.

You can switch that and you can inhale more than you’re exhaling, which will stimulate the body more or you can do some quick nasal breaths where you can breathe in through your right nostril, which we found can increase blood pressure, can increase heart rate, and it can stimulate the left side of your brain. This has all been scientifically validated in dozens of tests. That’s what’s so cool about breathing. You have these.

It starts with awareness. You can’t fast forward. You have to start with a good foundation. You can pull them out at any time. You can breathe in ways to put yourself to sleep and if you don’t think it works, try it next time you’re on an airplane or sitting in bed looking at the ceiling. You’ll be amazed by how quickly and effectively the stuff works.

What was helpful for me was the longer exhales for sleep. I’m not a great sleeper and I’m learning how to use that as a tool. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of my sleep. I’m not necessarily a mouth breather when I’m sleeping, but I will be awake. Using that long exhale to help me relax and go back into a restful place was helpful. We hear a lot about anxiety. A lot of it is our life. We were too tired before. We were always moving and we weren’t inundated with all of these things that people are dealing with.

More and more you’re seeing people trapped inside with COVID and masks and re-breathing your CO2. It’s a lot of anxiety. This book is even more important because it feels like, “I can do nothing about it.” Without giving advice, where would you direct them about the right breathing pattern to see if you can take the edge off of the amount of anxiety someone’s experiencing?

One of the most interesting studies I was able to find was a study conducted by Alicia Meuret years ago. She was at Harvard before she was at Stanford and now, she’s at SMU. She’s the top of the heap here. She took a bunch of people suffering from panic and the only intervention that she used was slower breathing. By allowing them to breathe slower, they increase their CO2. One thing that asthmatics and people who suffer from anxiety, panic, anorexia, or other fear-based disorders seem to all have in common and this has been measured is they have low CO2 because they’re overbreathing all the time. They associate holding their breath with an attack.

What happens when you have a panic attack? You can’t breathe. That trigger to breathe is triggered by rising levels of CO2. They become acclimated, conditioned to constantly keep that CO2 down because they don’t want to have an attack. The more you over breathe, the more vasoconstriction that you’re causing your body, the more apt you’re going to be to have an attack. I realized that was a complicated path there.

It’s so basic and yet no one’s looking at their breathing. We’re looking at all of these other drugs that change the biochemistry of their brains, which by and large, work extremely poorly across that. This isn’t me saying this. Talk to the top researchers looking at SSRIs and their effects. Some people with extreme depression can benefit from that but for the vast majority of people given these drugs, they are not that effective, which is why they still are taking them 30 years later. That doesn’t seem like a good drug.

Alicia Meuret started using slow breathing and that study is available for everyone, you can look it up. These people who had been suffering from panic attacks were no longer suffering. About 40% of them, within a few weeks, are no longer having panic attacks. A year later, after the study ended, 96% of them were either very much improved or much improved. So many we’re no longer having attacks. She did the same study with asthmatics. It’s the exact same result. For people with panic, with anxiety, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a breathing therapist, but the first thing that you should be focusing on when you feel an attack coming on is your breathing.

Number one, slow your breathing down. Don’t hold your breath for a minute or whatever. Breathe in at a balanced pattern, maybe breathe in the count for about 4 and out to 4, and start with that. Do it for three seconds if that’s easier for you. Slowly, you can start introducing small little breath holds at the end of that exhale. This is what Patrick McKeown does. This allows the CO2 to come up so often the panic can be abated and it’s measurable. Meuret was able to see a panic attack coming on an hour before it came on by looking at CO2. What astounded me is this research is out there. This is taxpayer money. It went to fund it. Who’s talking about it? I couldn’t find too many people, even though it’s all checked out.

What I have found and I always encourage people when they’re going to take this on is sometimes, we think of only the front of our body as participating in the breathing instead of also allowing it even without it becoming a vertical breast. You don’t want to shrug your shoulders. It’s even thinking about, “I can blow air into the back of my back. There’s a roundness to it.” For somebody reading this, don’t limit yourself to thinking that the breasts are only in the front but that you can gently ask the whole round part, in the back part to open up. That circular breath is important. 

I used to watch Laird train at sea level altitude. He used the breath, an oximeter, and used breathing patterns that would mimic that you were at altitude. There are so many interesting things that we can do with the breath as a tool. When I think about the people who may experience anxiety, the idea besides physiologically having a response to know you have a tool to back yourself away from something that you think is imminent and so powerful. It’s like, “I can feel this coming.” Maybe you could share the breathing that you do in your training because I know you do a little bit differently with your exhales and inhales as another example.

That tool you were mentioning for asthmatics, people suffering from panic, and other issues, it’s a tool that doesn’t come in a pillbox either. I’m not a hater of Western medicine. There are doctors in my family. We talk all the time about how I wouldn’t be alive without Western medicine. It’s the same thing with so many other people. I’m a huge fan of it but I’m also a fan of using what is the most effective intervention for whatever comes up.

Breathing is something that is instantaneous. If you look at the science of asthma and breathing, Patrick McKeown is a perfect example. Here’s a with severe asthma and severe allergies now gone and they’ve been gone for over twenty years. He’s taught tens of thousands of people how to do this. If you look at the numbers, you realize what a huge impact this can make on your body. It’s free again. It depends.

The other benefits for people in higher levels of fitness, they can go for it more. They can work on breath holds for 3 to 4 minutes. There are huge benefits of doing that. You can do this sea-level altitude training in which you can increase your VO2 Max, you can increase your red blood cell count, you can increase so many other things. You can become a better athlete. We know that recovery times can be cut as well. Not a lot of controversy but for everyone else that foundation is building that solid foundation and working up from there.

James Nestor

James Nestor – Our breath is something we carry with us all the time. You can improve your breathing at any time and show measurable change to your body.

Since the book has come out, people think I’m now the breathing guru. I wear robes and mala beads but that’s my business. My role was to be an objective journalist that didn’t know much about the subject but was going to talk to everybody, including doctors, clinicians, but also, the weird guy in the desert who’s taught people for 30 or 40 years how to breathe properly and to try to get the real story here. I never wanted and I still don’t want to be an evangelist for this stuff but you can’t help but be influenced when you see people who’ve so massively changed their health to pick up a few of those cues. Of course, I use these things. I’d be a fool not to.

Every morning, I try to get up and do about 15 to 20 minutes of breathing. When I don’t do it, I absolutely feel it. I’m so aware, whenever I’m working out or at any time, of how I’m breathing. Luckily now it’s become a habit where I don’t have to be a neurotic looking at wearables and my pulse oximeter and looking at my notepad and which I don’t suggest doing but sometimes you need to do that to get over the hump. Break the habit. I know I’m breathing through my nose when I’m out walking, jogging, surfing, or whatever.

For runners, there’s a suspended time of faith. I have people come to me and say, “I’m a runner.” I say, “Maybe you cut down on your distance in the beginning because it is harder if you’re trying to switch over and give yourself some kindness and maybe even slow down a little bit.” It takes time to open up their nasal passageways, build moisture, open it up, and do things like that. Now you’re hearing stories of people running marathons completely with their noses. That’s pretty astounding.

If you look at Kipchoge, check out his breathing while he’s running a two-hour marathon. Even at the end, his mouth is open about two centimeters and he’s breathing through his nose. Look at how calm his body is. What we hate as Westerners is to take a hit to our performance because we view that as something that is going to continue to negatively impact us. When you switch from mouth breathing to nasal breathing, as a runner, your performance is going to go down

It’s that thing of going backward to go so much further. People don’t realize lactic acid and all these things that you can minimize or get to later so much later as a runner. The other thing with this besides that is a practice. Awareness is so important because you can slow it down. You can go, “My mouth is hanging open. I got off an irritating phone call now and I’m panting.” It gives you that opportunity to close your mouth and go back into nose breathing and slowing it down and having beautiful guides like 5.5 seconds in and 5.5 seconds out or whatever is close to that. This isn’t about perfection.

That awareness is big but then if people say hey, “I want to dive into this,” it is a practice and it doesn’t have to be Monday, Wednesday, Friday. You have to put it in there on a regular basis. It’s important. Are you training any fighters or some athletes? What I was curious about is that if there was something new because you’re going to write a book and 6 months or a year later, you’re going to be like, “I wish I’d known that. I would have put it in the book.” Is there anything floating out there that didn’t arrive at your doorstep until after the book was out?

I’ve been hanging out with a bunch of people who train fighters. I’ve been talking with Patrick McKeown, Brian Mackenzie, and other breathing pros who they’re working with the top elite athletes. You don’t think breathing is going to make an impact on your ability to perform. Especially, we haven’t even talked about the eleven pounds of respiratory muscles. We’re working out every other muscle. You see some dude in the gym working out every single other muscle and tendon. You’re not working on the muscles that provide you with energy every second that will build muscles, burning fat. That’s something Belisa Vranich talks all about how that’s been completely forgotten about.

The interesting thing with this book is I tried to go as deep as I could into this field. I read everything and did everything I possibly thought I could do, which is why the bibliography at the end if you want to go deeper, there’s about 400. I knew nobody was going to believe this. I knew that people were going to say, “You cannot affect scoliosis with breathing.” Check out the science. Here’s the video if you don’t still don’t believe me. Here are the pictures. Take a huge breath and look at what happens to your posture. It is hard to be stooped over when you’re breathing properly and when you’re breathing these huge breaths.

I thought I had vetted it as much as I possibly could and I did for that time but one of the things that have been thrilling and frustrating a little bit is that I’m now working with so many different researchers. Amazing people doing amazing stuff who had read the book and said, “Where’d you get this? These are interesting studies. I’m at Yale.” I was like, “That came from Yale. They’re in your medical library.” I don’t mean that to demean. These are people who have professional day jobs. They’re surgeons. I’m learning so much more about this.

This does not mean Breath 2 or Breathe Deeper is coming out. This is my one book on breathing. It’s not going to happen. I will be updating the paperback with a few little tidbits that are undeniable that I need to slip in there. As someone who’s been in this field for a while, I am interested in continuing this conversation. Will I do anything professionally? Probably not, but we’re working on a breathing conference. I’m working with a few different nonprofits to get breathing and education to kids in developing nations.

What about the global classroom? This is important. You’re working and the great position you have is you can be the collector of all the great experts. You don’t have to be like, “I’m in this camp or that camp.” You can say, “I’m working collectively with everybody.” Now you’ve been part of creating The Global Classroom. Maybe you can share that.

The good part, the only use I have here is as a connector and as someone that can translate English in these studies to English to someone else who might want to read who’s not in the scientific community. That’s it. I’m not a researcher. That’s not what I do but I’m now privileged enough to be working with some of these people and now, helping them try to put together some research projects, I said, “You should study this,” because I couldn’t find anything on it.

Look at hypertension, breathing interventions, and nasal breathing at night with kids who have an increased risk of having diabetes. It’s weirdo stuff and they go off and do it. With Global Classroom, I had been contacted with them to do an interview and this is this amazing organization, a nonprofit, no one’s getting paid anything. They build these programs that are delivered to classrooms all over the world. They are tips that are free because of a lot of people in developing countries. Even if you say, “You’ve got to eat organic and paleo,” a lot of people don’t have that option. We, in California, do but in Thailand and Vietnam, they don’t.

I did a short interview with them and I mentioned to them, I said, “We should do a world breathing day thing that it’s all whole breathing but you shouldn’t be hearing from me. I’m just the reporter. Let’s get together some breathing experts and try to put together a package. I’m only going to do this if there’s no Coke logo on it or if there’s no Cheetos logo on this.” They said, “No, we don’t do anything.” No one’s going to take anything and they said, “We’re doing this for free,” and that’s what we did.

It was totally exhausting putting that together but a great experience and great feedback. I love their mission and what they’re doing. These people are selfless in their commitment to try to put out unbiased stuff that can help people take better advantage of this wonderful machine called our bodies that’s able to do so many wondrous things that we have forgotten about in the past.

It’s interesting, the disconnect. We used to go to the schools and do something called the Teaching Garden. The kids would grow the food, yield it, cook it, and eat it at the school. We would go in and it’s always the arm of, “We’re going to move around.” I’d say to the kids, “If your aunt or your grandma drove you to school and she needed to get gas, did she put potato chips in?” They were like, “No.” I’m like, “M&Ms.” They were like, “No.” I’m like, “You’ve got to put the right fuel,” so you try to talk to them.

James Nestor

Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves

Laird would say, “Do you know what’s the most amazing machine that’s out there? It’s your body because it can fly rockets and dive.” All sudden, I was like, “That’s so true. It can run and you can drive cars fast and it can do all this amazing stuff.” Because it’s so adaptable, I feel we take it for granted so easily. It is like, “You’re not doing that right but I’ll work with you on it.” It’s that reminder that it is this magical vessel. 

It’s not us per se but it is this avatar that if you take care of it here and there with breathing and other things, it does take you to amazing places. I did like the fact that say 50 out of 400 animals were the only ones with crooked teeth that all the other animals in nature have straight teeth. I thought that that was a great reminder.

Except for some, I got a little pushback. Even though I had included this in the book loudly and proudly, some Bulldogs, the dogs that humans have bred to have flat faces like our own faces, guess how they breathe? They sound exactly like humans. I had a hard time believing this and I went out and looked at the teeth of animals. Go do that on the internet. It’s really fun. They’re all over the place, millions and millions of animals, and then look in the mirror. If you’re like me, you’re like so many other people, we’re messed up. The good thing is with this knowledge and this acknowledgment, we don’t have to keep making the same mistakes.

We’ve known for over 120 years that industrial food is bad for the development of the human body. There are scientific studies and scientists saying, “Don’t eat this crap.” Michael Pollan and some other journalists like Gary Taubes get this message out. These things take a long time. I don’t imagine with all the knowledge we have about nutrition now that we’re going to go back and start buying canned string beans and creamed corn.

It got bad but we’re never going to go back. I feel the same thing with our understanding and appreciation of sleep. We’re not going to go back to where we were years ago of like, “I got three hours of sleep. What did you get?” “Two hours and I’m still here. I feel good.” That’s done. With breathing, it’s another one of those pillars of health.

We’re not going to go back to putting these braces and orthodontics which can destroy people’s faces. It’s not going to happen. We’re going to move forward. That’s wonderful to see and it was exciting for me to be entering into this field and talking to these people as so much of this momentum was moving forwards. It’s like this wave has been building in all of these different communities. With COVID, it started breaking. We’re like, “Maybe I should pay attention to my breath when I’m denied the ability to breathe.”

We get so far ahead that we have to be reminded to go back to do some of the basics, some of the essentials. Did you ever tape your mouth to sleep?

Every single night. I still do. I have to, but I don’t want to.

Do you have a special brand or a certain tape that feels most comfortable to you? Was there a period that you were agitated and you took it off and got used to it?

This is where I screwed up in life because a few years ago, I should have marketed Nestor’s Sleep Tape. It would have worked out okay. Instead, I used about twenty different kinds of tape trying to find the right one because I want it to be able to tell people, “I’ve vetted this stuff and this is the right one.” 3M does not sponsor me at all but the best one that I found was this is Nexcare 3M Sensitive Skin Micropore Tape. It’s not the stronghold.

This is the stuff that no weird chemical smell comes right off, which is what you want it to do. This is not about forcing your mouth shut. It’s a gentle reminder to keep your mouth shut. A lot of people need a couple of weeks or a couple of months and they learn how to keep their mouth shut. I’m not one of those people.

Your indication is that your mouth is dry.

I wake up with a dry mouth. I wake up with my mouth open and now I’m so paranoid that I will be able to know when that happens. I don’t have the jaw structure. It comes back to geometry and anatomy. Some people have a big jaw. My wife has never ever needed sleep tape. She sleeps with a closed mouth. She’s one of the rare few, but I need it. I travel with it. I can feel the difference. I can see the difference when I’m tracking my sleep on every level when I don’t have it.

This is the one thing I’ve heard from thousands of people that they said this little hack has so profoundly affected their lives. We know that it can help reduce snoring and sometimes reverse it entirely. It’s not for everybody, but some people, because snoring is complex. We know that it can help reduce some forms of sleep apnea for some people.

What is the statistic? Is it 50% of the people? How many people have sleep apnea? It was some crazy amount.

Sleep apnea is about 20%. Snoring is about 50%. 20% of the population is choking on themselves at night so much so their oxygen levels take a hit. This is such bad news. We know sleep apnea is directly connected to Alzheimer’s, adult-onset diabetes. How you breathe is connected to your chances of having diabetes. This is crazy. This is what happens when you stress your body out all the time.

Stanford is doing a big study. They finally got private funding. They couldn’t find it publicly, which is interesting looking at snoring, sleep apnea, and sleep tape. It’s interesting that so many people already know this works, which is why so many breathing therapists and dentists already prescribed it to patients but it’s great to see that there’s more interest in doing the studies.

I was interested in the Homeoblock. I thought that it was interesting. Do you have a thing for Wes Anderson? 

I don’t know how to respond to that.

If your wife was here, she would know.

I wonder what that’s about.

Maybe you got drunk and told somebody one time in your life like Wes Anderson.

I don’t know.

You like him, I’m sure. I’m off the Gabby lane.

What lane is this?

People have these things about you. They’re curious about your beard. Do you have a practice with your beard? 

Every night I put it to sleep. Every day I wake it up. We go walking together. We go out to eat.

I have a friend who never cuts his hair because it was a commitment type thing. 

This is what happens when you surf in San Francisco in January and it’s extremely cold and you come from Southern California where it’s a lot warmer.

You have a blanket for your face for surfing. 

It’s your best friend who never leaves you behind.

It’s genius. It’s handsome.

Thank you so much. There’s no magic to the beard, unfortunately.

When you wrote this book with this much care and attention, bringing awareness to the breath when you thought, “This is done and people are going to read this.” Besides awareness, did you have some secret hope about, “I want to nudge anyone who reads this book in a direction.” Or you thought, “This is up for their own interpretation.” On the most fundamental level, what were you hoping that somebody would bring more attention or refocus the importance of the breath?

My first hope was that someone beyond my mom and friends was going to buy it. As an author, you never know what’s going to happen. The fact that this book was slated to come out in May of 2020, guess what happened in March? It’s why I read the audiobook in the shed in my backyard, surrounded by moving blankets. It’s not a conducive environment to breathing and talking about it. It’s hot with a lot of CO2 and a lot of toxins. Moving blankets from Amazon are not suggested to hang out with those. Even when you wash them, they still smell terrible.

I was extremely nervous. We were going to delay the publication for a year because of distribution problems but my editor’s like, “If there’s any time people need to think about that, maybe now’s the time.” I said, “What the heck. Let’s get it. I want it out and we’ll pick it up and I’ll do PR stuff in a year.” You know what a weird time that was for everything. We didn’t know if toilet paper was going to be available.

We released it and it’s been a total shock and such a privilege. The researchers and the scientists here, it’s their work that I was reporting on. That’s all I was doing. I was reporting on it. It’s helped a lot of people. They were helping people before, but they’re helping people that went to their clinic. A lot of these tricks you can do for free at your home. No one’s going to charge you anything for breathing. It’s still free. We’ll see what happens in a few years. I get so many emails. You never know what’s going to happen. When things happen in a way you don’t expect, it’s completely jarring and it’s exhausting. A year later, when you’re still talking about this stuff, you’re like, “What happened in this past year?” It’s also so exciting.

It gets me to be more interested in the subject. I’m so interested to continue talking about it. I know a lot of people get burned out after a while. You talk about the same thing over and over. I don’t know what it is. I get charged up because we’ve essentially been lied to a lot about so many things from nutrition to even sleep. We’ve been lied to about breathing, where it can take us, what it can do for us, how poorly we’ve been breathing, and to get this word out to people. If it can help them then that’s great.

Culturally, we typically seem to only believe things that are jarring and jolting and we overlook the subtleties of small practices throughout our days, weeks, and months to support us. William Sifu was talking about the use of Chinese medicine and herbs and has golden thread as a company. He said that it was a whisper to your health, these little whispers to good health.

When I do pull training, a lot of times, you’ll come up and you’ll be at the curtain a little bit. I’ve done it long enough that you’re trying to push the curtain out and you’re making peace with the curtain. You go, “If I don’t relax a little more, I’m going to get there quicker.” The water is so incredible because it tells you objectively like, “That extra little move you made, that was 2% inefficiency. You’re going to pay in a little bit.” That thought you had was 1%.

I have found that when I come up and use my teeth to offload my CO2 right when I come up or as I’m finishing the drill, I start to offload and get rid of my CO2 because I know I’m ready to come up and take a breath. In order to absorb the air better, I try to get rid of the CO2. I found other interesting parts of this and I don’t want to forget about it. You talk a lot in the book that out also is important as in. 

I want to remind people because I have a family member that probably would have survived longer if he was able to breathe out strongly when he got older, not just breath in. The reason I say my teeth is because I can grab my diaphragm and I’m in water to summon that pressure which also makes it harder so I’ll blow it out. Laird will do it with a snorkel. He’ll do drills where he’s got a snorkel. He said, “You get in there and all of a sudden, your big focus is trying to get rid of your CO2.” I don’t want to end the interview without reminding people that exhaling fully and correctly, and the ability to exhale is also important.

James Nestor

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

When you’re dealing with a situation in which you need to be functioning at a state of peak efficiency, when you’re holding your breath for the maximum amount of time, when you’re free diving. Freediving intimately connects you with your breath. You can’t free dive if you’re not connected to your body and your breath so you learn all those tricks when you’re coming back up at around seven feet or so. You exhale all of the air and it also releases the pressure so the first thing you do once you get above the water is take a nice enriching breath of air. There are a million different ways you can do that.

When you’re holding your breath that long, your CO2 is going up but after a while, your oxygen is starting to go down. We know that brain oxygen will increase after about a minute of holding your breath because the body is so smart. It optimizes that. After 1.5 minutes your CO2 is starting to go down. People who have acclimated to that know that feeling and they know that balance. For anybody reading, don’t go out into your pool or in your bath and try to do this. You do this under professional supervision. With any and all freediving, it’s vitally important.

That brings us back to the exhale. Many of us and for some reason, I’ve always associated this as a Western trait. We’re all into doing more and more. We learn to breathe. It’s packing air on top of air, on top of air. You can function that way but wouldn’t it be easier to take in fewer breaths, but deeper breaths. The only way to breathe in an enriching breath is to get all of that air out first. By doing that, this amazing piston in our bodies, this diaphragm is able to do its magic. It’s able to go up and down.

Carl Stough’s research in the 1950s absolutely blew me away. The only therapy he was using for people with emphysema was breathing. It worked better than anything. These people left for dead, walked out of the hospital after a few weeks because if you look at someone with emphysema or COPD, they often breathe differently 25,000 times a day.

When you’re doing that, you’re not using your diaphragm. You’re using your shoulders, you’re using accessory muscles, which are not designed to help you to breathe. For some reason, still to this day, these people are not taught how to breathe properly. When you’re breathing this way, the diaphragm is stuck in a position that’s low. Air gets packed on top of air on top of air. That CO2 builds up and the stale air can get out.

Stough thought, “If I can get these people to exhale. Inhaling is too easy. We all know how to inhale. It’s the exhale that we need to get them to do.” Not only does that help emphysema but it also helps everybody because we all breathe. This is breathing efficiency. I’ve been stoked enough to hear from several of Stough’s patients, these people who were left for dead. They were given an oxygen tank. They were pumped up with antibiotics. No one knew what to do with them. He went in there and saved their lives and these people have lived these long lives. They’ve been so offended that his work has completely disappeared.

With knowledge, we now have power. We’re empowered to take control of our health. No one can tell you not to breathe in a healthy way. If they do tell you not to breathe, go in the other direction. They’re a great example of how massively simple breathing, quiet whisper breathing habits can transform your health in some significant ways.

Are you allowed to share what’s next or is that a secret? We’ll wait and see.

I don’t want to curse it.

Let’s not. I’ll be excited. Did I forget something that feels important to you?

I don’t think so. Your Laird impression was something. I’ve never heard that before.

Which one? I have so many. Over twenty-five years.

Congratulations.

I do a lot. What’s funny is a family and then you add layers, more people, children, and things. I breathe quietly and deeply. Sometimes I will hold my breath a little bit because I’m also holding my tongue. I’m holding my reaction, I’m slowing it way down, but I’m still coming from an oxygen-y place. Throughout my day, certain members of my family come in or there’s something happening at work and I go, “Let’s hold for a second.” It’s quite effective.

It is because it stops you from talking as well.

You’re picking up. You’re like, “I’m going to hold. I’m going to shove my tongue to the roof of my mouth.” 

You call it breathwork but it’s to create a quiet moment. It’s sharp.

I’ve got to wear earplugs. I’m going to borrow your new stuff. I’ll be like, “What?” 

It’s a wonderful device but then you’re going to the guy in the hotel room with earplugs and sleep tape. You never thought you’d be that guy. Before you know it, you’re going to have the aluminum foil hat and the car that’s super blacked out and no one can see you. You have newspapers in your windows.

You have a cold thing on your head. 

That’s coming up. Next time you see me, I’m all tripped out.

You’ll look really rested. You can hang out with Ben Greenfield. James Nestor, thank you for your time.

Thanks a lot for having me.

Thanks so much for being here. If you’d like, rate, subscribe, and leave us a review. All of my music was graciously done by Frank Zummo and Tom Thacker. If you want to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, follow me, @GabbyReece. Remember, don’t miss new episodes every Monday.

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About James Nestor

James Nestor

James Nestor is an author and journalist who has written for Scientific American, Outside Magazine, BBC, The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, The San Francisco Chronicle, Surfer’s Journal and more.

He has spent the last several years working on a book called Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. It released through Riverhead/Penguin Random House on May 26, 2020 and spent 18 weeks of the New York Times bestseller list in the first year of publication.

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