You probably don’t give much thought to your breathing, other than when you’re out of breath after a run, on the yoga mat or deep in meditation.
Otherwise, your breathing is probably subconscious, right? Well, it might be time to change that.
Most people don’t give a second thought to the way they breathe, but the truth is, it has serious implications for our health. Specifically, it’s time to talk about just how detrimental mouth breathing can be and learn about the far-reaching benefits of nasal breathing.
If you’re routinely dragging and low on energy, pay attention to your breath – and how you breathe!
If you’re ready to make some tweaks to your breath – an act we perform 17,000 to 23,000 or so times a day – then, read on for major health payoffs.
After all, we all know how rejuvenating it feels to focus on our breath during a yoga session – so why not extend that same care to the other 23 hours in our day?
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Here Are 4 Facts About Mouth Breathing Vs. Nasal Breathing:
If you haven’t really given much thought to how you breathe, now’s the time to pay it some attention!
1. The Benefits of Nasal Breathing Include Lower Stress and Anxiety
In his book Breath, James Nestor uncovers the largely-lost wisdom of the benefits of nasal breathing. One of his methods included an experiment on himself and a colleague where they blocked up their noses and forced themselves to only utilize mouth breathing for 10 days.
The results? Their health went downhill, fast. Specifically, after 10 days he had higher blood pressure, terrible sleeping issues, increased snoring, and a mess of a nervous system.
Science backs this up! When mouth breathing, we take in too much air via fast, shallow breaths. And excess air isn’t a good thing – it can increase our level of anxiety and stress.
When we practice nose breathing, we properly regulate our levels of CO2, which leads to a decrease in our stress and anxiety.
Nasal breathing has also been linked to everything from improved blood pressure, better sleep, and increased lung health.
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2. Nasal Breathing Acts as a Natural Humidifier and Filter
Microscopic tiny nose hairs, known as cilia, play a huge role in our air quality but only if we use the correct route for our breath – our noses!
When we inhale through the nose, these tiny hairs filter out any environmental toxins and dust. They also humidify and change the temperature of the air so that it’s filtered and clean before entering our lungs.
3. Nasal Breathing Keeps Us Energized
The truth is that most of us are going through our normal days not breathing correctly, and it’s draining us!
About 30 to 50% of adults routinely practice mouth breathing instead of nasal breathing (as we’re designed to do).
If you’re routinely dragging and low on energy, pay attention to your breath and how you breathe! Nasal breathing results in 10-20% improvement in oxygen uptake.
This is because it’s a vicious cycle. Not only does mouth breathing decrease oxygen and energy levels, it also erodes the quality of our sleep and even the function of our muscles, meaning even less energy and decreased athletic performance.
4. Mouth Breathing Changes the Shape of Our Face!
In his book Breath, Nestor discusses how in many other cultures and throughout history, children were commonly trained to only breathe through their nose due to the health benefits of nasal breathing. This is largely a lost “art.”
And over time, our breathing habits have literally changed the shape of our faces! Everything from our facial shape to the alignment of our teeth can be traced to the way we breathe throughout our lives.
This means it’s never too early to start teaching children the benefits of nasal breathing to help them avoid issues down the road.
So Why Don’t We All Practice Nasal Breathing Instead of Mouth Breathing?
As Nestor points out in Breath, everyone from ancient Greeks to Native Americans, Buddhists, and the Chinese as far back as 400BCE all preached the importance and benefits of nasal breathing.
They considered it a primary form of medicine, and they considered mouth breathing to be a form of poison!
So why is it that 80% of us now breathe incorrectly? And struggle with breathing-related conditions like sleep apnea, asthma, or disruptive snoring?
According to Nestor, much of the lack of focus on nasal breathing is because scientists and doctors often dismiss the importance of breathing – considering it airy or woo-woo.
There have been many others, though, who revered breathing and proved the benefits of nasal breathing in their clients. Nestor shares stories of choral teachers who not only helped their students improve their voice, but also helped patients reverse the course of their diseased lungs with proper breathing.
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There have been Olympic athletes who harnessed the benefits of nasal breathing and didn’t need oxygen before or after races – even when all other teams did.
Despite all this, the benefits of nasal breathing isn’t a topic commonly taught to doctors today. Hopefully, this will change.
After all, ancient yogis (and yogis today) have known the benefits of breathing for centuries. Now, it’s time for the power of our breath to become a widely accepted truth in mainstream medicine too.
Stop Mouth Breathing! Here Are 5 Nasal Breathing Tips That You Can Implement Today:
Convinced about the benefits of nasal breathing yet? After reading Nestor’s book Breath, I was ready to start exclusively nose breathing like, yesterday!
If you’re ready to make changes, here are some steps you can take right away.
1. Align Your Posture
Adopt a posture conducive to good breathing! Shoulders down, back straight, and keeping your head and neck aligned can all make a big difference.
2. Use Tools
Consider using special mouth tape to literally tape your lips shut at night, forcing you to breathe through your nose. It might feel bizarre at first, but keep trying!
I felt a huge difference after I got past the initial weirdness and have been sleeping better than I have in years.
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3. Get Conscious
Take a nod from yoga! One of the most widely regarded best practices to retrain your body for nasal breathing is pranayama – the art of conscious breathing.
Pranayama Explained + 5 Techniques to Get You Started
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice! Just like you may have learned to regularly practice mouth breathing, you can train your body to adapt to nose breathing instead. Just be patient.
5. Seek Help
If you need, see a doctor or specialist. In some cases, things like deviated septums or other conditions may make it harder to correctly breathe through your nose.
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The Importance of Nasal Breathing Can’t Be Overstated
If you’re doing everything else “right” for your health like eating healthy, staying active, and caring for your mental health with practices like yoga and meditation, don’t forget about your breath.
After all, it’s an act we do tens of thousands of times each day, so make sure it’s doing you all the favors it’s designed to!
All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.