Breathing Well…The Nose Knows!


Breathing is something we all do automatically without much thought. The breath is a very powerful thing, and using your breath correctly can have a great impact on your overall health, well-being and performance.

Just pause and take a breath.

What was it like? In through your nose or mouth, relaxed or tense, from the diaphragm or chest?

Our mouths are designed for eating and talking, breathing is a primary responsibility of the nose.  You can use your mouth as a backup when you are exercising hard or if our nasal passages are congested but efficient effective breathing is in and out through the nose.

I started researching breathing because I was instructed by my wife to stop snoring. I realised I was mouth breathing and began a breath training program which has greatly improved my capacity to nose breath at night. My wife is a lot happier now.  

Why is it so important to nose breathe?

There are very convincing reasons why nose breathing is essential for our health.

When we breathe through our nose we release a gas called nitrous oxide from our paranasal sinuses. This does a number of things:

  1. It sterilizes the air we breathe in and assists airway opening to allow  more air to get to our lungs.
  2. It also enhances our performance in sport and bringing up blood from the lower lobes of the lungs to get better oxygenation to the blood and to our tissues.
  3. Nose breathing can improve the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the blood by 5 to 15%.

One of the most critical aspects of nose breathing is that it controls the amount of carbon dioxide(CO2) we breathe out (different to nitrous oxide). This is a bi product of our normal metabolism. Carbon dioxide acts as a doorway between the blood and the tissues. If we over breathe through our mouth or breathe too fast, that doorway stays shut and prevents us from getting oxygen from the blood to the tissues. However if we breathe in a calm controlled manner that doorway remains open and oxygen flows more freely into the tissues.

The background to nose breathing.

A Russian physician, Dr Vladamir Buteyko researched breathing through his professional life. He found that one of the reasons that asthmatics have problems with breathing is that they tend to over breathe.  A central part of his approach is to teach a relaxed breath pattern that doesn’t blow out (exhaling) too much carbon dioxide. 

Interestingly further studies have shown chronic over breathing correlates with chronic disease states, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes. Good health is linked to a relaxed breathing pattern.

How to start breathing better

Your breath is a truly amazing thing and integral to life. Take advantage of the power of your breath. All you have to do to begin, is gently inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through your nose, taking mindful small, barely perceptible breaths in and out. This has a very powerful effect on your state by activating our calming parasympathetic nervous system as opposed to being tense and anxious and over stimulating the opposite system -the sympathetic.  How have you felt when you have been angry or tense? Tight and tending to breathe quickly and over breathe?

So by switching to a relaxed nasal breath pattern you can reduce those responses and help your body adapt to stress.

Added benefits

1.    Nose breathing moisturises the incoming air, which improves transference of oxygen in the lungs.
2.    It triggers the release of antibacterial molecules to improve function of the immune system.
3.    Nose breathing brings air to the paranasal sinuses that assist the pituitary gland to regulate body temperature.
4.    It helps regulate sleeping patterns.

Nose breathing is an essential part of life and adds quality and calmness to your life.

Try it, it is a very small  change to your routine for potentially significant benefits to your general health and well -being.


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