Quality of Breath = Quality of Life
How we breathe – fast or slow, shallow or deep, chest or belly – affects our mood, stress levels, blood pressure, immune function and many other bodily processes. Most people do not control their breathing. So, how to breathe correctly and with health benefits?
The first and most important rule of healthy breathing: always breathe in and out through your nose, even during exercise. Nasal breathing is the most correct and optimal, while breathing through the mouth increases heart rate and blood pressure, and has many other adverse health effects.
- Nasal breathing helps fight infections. Our nose is the only organ capable of properly “preparing” the air we breathe in. Passing through the nasal passages, the air is heated, humidified, conditioned and mixed with nitric oxide, which performs two important functions: it kills pathogens and acts as a vasodilator in the airways, arteries and capillaries. When breathing through the mouth, there are no barriers that prevent the penetration of pathogenic microbes into the body.
- Nasal breathing provides better blood flow and lung capacity. Nasal breathing (as opposed to breathing through the mouth) improves circulation, increases blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows breathing rate, and increases total lung capacity.
- Nasal breathing is involved in the thermoregulation of the body, helping to maintain body temperature.
- Breathing through the nose improves brain activity and the functioning of all organs and systems of the body.
- Nasal breathing helps with high physical exertion, including during training. In the lungs, oxygen is extracted from the incoming air primarily on exhalation. When we exhale air through the nose, resistance is created in the airways, which slows down the speed of the exhaled air, at the same time, oxygen uptake by the lungs increases. Thus, if we want to improve our physical performance, we should breathe in and out through the nose during physical exertion.
- Nasal breathing has a therapeutic effect. Proper breathing through the nose can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels. ⠀
Mouth breathing alerts the brain to an emergency. For example, during hypoxia, the body reflexively reacts to a lack of oxygen by starting to yawn, thereby trying to increase the amount of incoming air.
- Along with the tongue, the nose recognizes taste. If you hold your nose tight, you can easily swallow an unloved food or even a serving of fish oil. The same thing happens with a severe cold: any food seems insipid and bland. In fact, the tongue, which seems to be the main determinant of tastes, can recognize basic tastes, but not their shades. To perceive the whole variety of taste sensations, the participation of smell, that is, the nose, is necessary.
- The nose acts as a voice resonator, giving it an individual timbre and sonority. “French pronunciation” during a severe cold is a vivid confirmation of how much a violation of nasal breathing affects voice sound.
- The nose is the main and only odor recognizer, the olfactory organ that can capture the subtlest shades: the aroma of the first spring greenery and flowering lily of the valley, perfume and boiling broth, the scent of a loved one’s hair and the surf.
According to experts, this issue is relevant for at least every 4th person on earth.
Difficulty in nasal breathing is associated not only with diseases such as acute viral infections, rhinitis, sinusitis and associated complications, including hearing organs.
In fact, difficulty in nasal breathing can be caused by a number of reasons: the presence of polyps in the nasal cavity; atrophy of the nasal mucosa; chronic hypertrophic rhinitis; nose injury; curvature of the nasal septum; abscess of the nasal septum; foreign body in the nose.
A blocked nose causes discomfort, interferes with work and study. What to do if the nose does not breathe?
Ayurveda offers effective methods that were used long before the vasoconstrictor drops were invented..
- Breathe over the steam. This old method is quite effective. Pour warm water into a wide container, bend over it, remembering to cover your head with a cloth or a clean towel. After a few minutes, the nose will clear. Herbs or essential oils added to the water enhance the effect several times. Stock up on chamomile, eucalyptus, mint.
- A warm, damp towel applied to the face can relieve nasal congestion. Soak a towel in warm water, wring it out, and cover your face so you can breathe comfortably. The procedure also helps to keep the mucous membranes moist.
- Neti Pot. This is the name of small pots in the shape of a teapot. They are used in yoga as a means of personal hygiene and prevention of diseases of the nasopharynx. Neti well removes dirt and mucus from the nose, cleanses the sinuses, improves the condition with allergies, and bronchitis.
(See also: Nasal Cleansing – Jala Neti; Ayurvedic Healing of Colds; Ayurvedic Cough Remedies; Oil Pulling).
- Try pranayama, special breathing techniques. See articles previously published on this site: Kapalabhati Pranayama; Breath of Fire; Nadi Shodhana.
TODAY’S TIP: The intensity of sports activities must be adjusted in accordance with breathing. If you feel like you are short of breath when breathing in and out through your nose, you need to slow down the pace of your workout. This is a temporary phenomenon, rather quickly the body will begin to adapt to the increased level of carbon dioxide and you will be able to maintain a higher pace while breathing properly.