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A Transformative Journey at the James Nestor Breath Retreat in Costa Rica



Embrace the transformative power of breath in the heart of Costa Rica! As a dedicated yoga teacher, my recent experience at the James Nestor Breath Retreat was nothing short of life-changing. Nestled in the serene landscapes of Costa Rica, this retreat offered a unique opportunity to delve into the profound wisdom shared by James Nestor in his groundbreaking book, "Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art."

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The Setting:

Costa Rica provided the perfect backdrop for a deep dive into the practice of conscious breathing. Surrounded by lush greenery, pristine beaches, and the sounds of nature, the retreat offered a serene and rejuvenating environment conducive to self-discovery and growth.

Here are the learnings and takeaways:

1. The Evolution of Breathing:

Nestor delves into the history of human breathing, explaining how modern lifestyle changes have affected the way we breathe. He argues that many people have lost the ability to breathe optimally due to factors like mouth breathing, sedentary living, and dietary changes.

2. Mouth vs. Nose Breathing:

Nestor highlights the importance of nasal breathing over mouth breathing. Nasal breathing filters humidifies, and warms the air, while mouth breathing can lead to a range of health issues. We got this awesome kit including mouth tap to try and put it in the night.. 

3. Sleep and Breathing

Nestor emphasizes the impact of breathing on sleep quality. He suggests that improving your breathing can help reduce snoring and sleep apnea, leading to more restful and rejuvenating sleep.

4. The Mind-Body Connection

"Breath" also delves into the connection between breathing and our mental and emotional states. Proper breathing can have a calming effect on the nervous system and help alleviate stress and anxiety.

5. Historical Insights

Nestor weaves in historical anecdotes and stories about individuals who have explored the art of breathing, from ancient yoga practices to modern scientific discoveries.

6. Research and Case Studies:

Nestor incorporates scientific research and case studies to support his claims about the importance of proper breathing. He cites studies and experts in the field of respiratory science.

7. Mouth Tapping

Mouth taping is exactly what it sounds like—gently taping your mouth so that you breathe through your nose instead of opening your mouth during sleep. "When you think about breathing through your nose during the daytime, it's a lot easier because you can consciously tell yourself to do it," says Nestor

 Workshops and Sessions: 

The retreat was based on the principles outlined in his book and we engaged in activities such as guided breathing exercises, discussions on the science behind breathing, group activities, meditation sessions, and practical tips for incorporating better breathing habits into their daily lives.


 It was an immersive experience for us to interact directly with him and other Breathwork coaches, ask questions, and receive personalized guidance. From exploring the science of breath to hands-on breathing exercises, each session provided valuable insights and practical tools that I, as a yoga teacher, have integrated into my own practice and teachings. Here is the video of the taping which I learned and now guiding in my class 🙂

What did I learn:


Coherent breathing involves breathing at a consistent rate, typically at a rate of 5 breaths per minute. This rhythmic and controlled breathing pattern aims to balance the autonomic nervous system, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation. We were suggested to do 3 times a day, 6 sec inhale, 6 sec exhale for 5 mins.



Coherent breathing is often used to reduce stress, and anxiety, and promote overall emotional well-being.

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Coherent Breathing


Breathing Light is a technique that involves visualizing and imagining breathing in light or positive energy with each inhalation. As you exhale, you may visualize releasing any tension, negativity, or darkness.



This technique combines breathwork with visualization to enhance a sense of mental clarity, positivity, and energy flow.

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Breathing Light


Kundalini breathwork often involves specific breath patterns and sometimes incorporates meditation or mantra chanting. We have not done much in Kundalini but mostly Sudarshan kriya :)



Kundalini practices aim to awaken spiritual energy and enhance awareness. The use of a Guru Dev recording may add a sacred or guided element to the breathwork.

Sky Breathing
(Kundalini with Guru Dev Recording)


The Wim Hof Method involves a specific breathing pattern characterized by deep inhalations followed by passive exhalations. This is often combined with cold exposure and mindset training.



Wim Hof Breathing is associated with increased energy, improved focus, and enhanced resilience to stress. It's often practiced in conjunction with the Wim Hof cold exposure method.

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Wim Hof Breathing


The 4-7-8 technique, popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil, involves inhaling quietly through the nose for a count of 4, holding the breath for a count of 7, and exhaling audibly through the mouth for a count of 8.



This technique is designed to promote relaxation and ease the transition into sleep.

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Sleep - 4-7-8


Tummo, or Inner Fire, is a Tibetan Buddhist practice that involves a combination of specific breath control, visualization, and meditation techniques.



Tummo is believed to generate inner heat and enhance spiritual insight. It's a more advanced practice and is often associated with specific traditions.

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The physiological sigh involves taking a deep inhalation followed by a longer exhalation. It is a natural reflex that helps reset the respiratory system.



This technique is a quick way to induce a sense of calm and relaxation by resetting the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body

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Physiological Sigh (Fastest Way to Calm)


This pranayama involves a specific breath pattern with pauses during inhalation to fill the lungs gradually, followed by holding the breath at the top.



Violona Pranayama is likely designed to enhance lung capacity, promote breath control, and potentially induce a meditative state.

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Violona Pranayama


This breath involves holding the breath at the top of an inhale for as long as possible.



Holding the breath in this manner can build lung capacity, increase oxygenation, and potentially induce a meditative or transcendent state.

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Receiving Kriya


The Body Oxygen Level Test (BOLT) is a self-assessment used in the Oxygen Advantage method, as outlined in Patrick McKeown's book. It involves a simple breath-holding exercise to measure the body's tolerance to carbon dioxide and evaluate respiratory health



The primary purpose of the BOLT test is to assess an individual's respiratory efficiency. By measuring the duration one can comfortably hold their breath after a normal exhale, the BOLT score provides insights into carbon dioxide tolerance. According to the Oxygen Advantage approach, a higher BOLT score is associated with improved respiratory function and can lead to various health and performance benefits.

                                                                                                                                  This self-administered test serves as a baseline measurement and a tool for tracking progress in respiratory training. The Oxygen Advantage program often includes techniques such as nasal breathing exercises and breath-holding exercises to enhance BOLT scores and overall respiratory well-being. It's a practical and accessible way for individuals to engage with their own respiratory health and work towards optimizing their breathing patterns.

Body Oxygen Level Test

How to do the BOLT 

       Here's a basic overview of how the BOLT test is typically conducted:



       Sit down in a comfortable position.
       Take a few normal breaths to relax.

Exhale Naturally:

       After a normal exhale, pinch your nose closed with your fingers to prevent air from entering.

Hold Your Breath:

       Start a timer and hold your breath until you feel the first involuntary urge to breathe.

Record the Time:

        Note the time it takes until you feel the first definite need to breathe.

Cold Plunge and Surfing

In Costa Rica, I embraced the invigorating contrast of a cold plunge, surrounded by lush greenery, and the exhilaration of surfing in the Pacific Ocean. The cold plunge refreshed both body and mind while surfing added a dynamic thrill, connecting me to the ocean's powerful forces. These contrasting aquatic experiences captured the vibrant essence of Costa Rica, where nature's wonders and the ocean's energy invite exploration and joy.

Costa Rican Culture:

Beyond the retreat, the vibrant culture of Costa Rica added an extra layer of richness to the experience. From the warm hospitality of the locals to the delicious cuisine, every aspect of the journey contributed to a holistic and immersive experience.

Community and Connections:

One of the highlights was the sense of community fostered during the retreat. Sharing this experience with like-minded individuals created a supportive environment for learning and growth. The collective energy of the group amplified the impact of the retreat, creating lasting connections with fellow participants.



Incorporating the lessons learned at the James Nestor Breath Retreat into my yoga practice has been a game-changer. This retreat not only deepened my understanding of breath but also provided a space for self-reflection and personal growth. I am grateful for the opportunity to have embarked on this transformative journey in the heart of Costa Rica.


Photos from the retreat and his signed copy of mine!

Photos from the retreat and his signed copy of mine!

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