I recently read a book on breathing by James Nestor.
It has inspired me to ask more clients about their breathing and to talk about breathing exercises. There are so many people who are for many reasons not breathing well. This can influence so many things.
Most people talk to me about breathing when they are congested, have asthma, hayfever or snoring issues. Yet there are so many other aspects of our health that can be improved when we learn to breathe better.
We already know that when nasal passage gets congested, airflow decreases and creates the perfect environment for bacteria to flourish. Then bacteria can replicate and before you know it the infection starts and then you are more congested and then forced to mouth breath. Mouth breathing is not a healthy way to breath and can effect an array of conditions.
Historically when we look at ancient skulls – we see enormous forward facing jaws – expansive sinus cavities and broad mouths and straight teeth. These people were very unlikely to have sleep apnea, sinusitis or snoring problems. In contrast we see in the modern skull chins have recessed behind the foreheads, jaws are slumped back, sinuses shrunken and all have some degree of crooked teeth. This is due to mouth breathing. Of 5400 species of mammals on earth humans are the ones you see with misaligned jaws, over bites etc. When I read this it makes me want to be very aware of breathing through my nose.
Breathing is the first thing we do when we come into life and the last thing we do at the end of life. It is such an important part of our health. Have we lost touch with one of our most basic and one of the most important biological functions? Are there more people with breathing problems than we are aware of?
Do you mouth breath?
Do you snore?
Have you got jaw problems and crooked teeth?
Do you sigh a lot and get shortness of breath or anxiety?
Do you have asthma?
Do you get recurring lung infections?
Do you have emphysema and cannot get stale air out?
I love how James Nestor, brings to life the breathing process so I have shared the following extracts from his book. It truly helps us understand the process of breathing.
EXTRACTS OF HOW JAMES NESTOR EXPLAINS BREATHING
In a single breath, more molecules of air will pass through your nose than all the grains of sand on all the worlds' beaches - trillions and trillions of them. .... What directs this rambling path are turbinates, six maze like bones ( three on each side) that begin at the opening of your nostrils and end below your eyes. The turbinates are coiled in such a way that if you split them apart they'd look like a seashell, which is how they got their other name 'nasal concha', after the conch shell. Molluscs use their elaborate designed shells to filter impurities and keep invaders out. So do we.
The lower turbinates at the opening of our nostrils are covered in pulsing erectile tissue,... that moisten and warms breath to your body temperature whilst simultaneously filtering out particles and pollutants. ... Like a giant conveyor belt, it collects inhaled debris in the nose , then moves all the junk down the throat and into the stomach, where it's sterilised by stomach acid, delivered to the intestines and sent out of your body. This conveyor belt doesn't move by itself. It's pushed along by millions of tiny, hair like structures called cilia. Like a field of wheat in the wind , cilia sway with each inhale and exhale.
What influences much of the speed of this circulation is the thoracic pump, the name for the pressure that builds inside the chest when we breathe. As we inhale, negative pressure draws blood into the heart: as we exhale blood shoots back out into the body and lungs where it recirculates. ... And what powers the thoracic pump is the diaphragm, the muscle that sits beneath the lungs in the shape of an umbrella. The diaphragm lifts during exhalations, which shrinks the lungs, then it drops back down to expand them in inhalations. This up and down movement occurs within us 50,000 times a day.
Let's say you're about to take a river cruise. ... You pass through security, board the ship and head off. This is similar to the path oxygen molecules take once they reach the alveoli. Each of these little docking stations is surrounded by a river of plasma filled with red blood cells. As these cells pass by, oxygen molecules will slip through the membranes of the alveoli and lodge themselves inside one... In your blood cells, those rooms are proteins called hemoglobin. Oxygen takes a seat inside the haemoglobin; then the red blood cells journey upstream, deeper into the body. As the blood passes through tissues and muscles, oxygen will disembark, providing fuel to hungry cells.. As oxygen off loads, other passengers namely carbon dioxide - the "waste product" of metabolism- will pile aboard, and the cruise ship will begin a return journey back to the lungs.
Blood will grow darker as the oxygen leaves. .... Eventually, the cruise ship will make its round through the body and back to port, back to the lungs, where carbon dioxide will exit the body through the alveoli, up the throat and out the mouth and nose in an exhale. More oxygen boards in the next breath and the process starts again
‘To breathe is to absorb ourselves in what surrounds us, to take a little bit of life, understand and give pieces of ourselves back out. Respiration is at its core, reciprocation’.
Once you read these extracts you start to get the full understanding of the importance of breathing and the importance of the function of our nose, lungs, diaphragm and circulation. Did you know that most people only use their diaphragm to 10% capacity. If you have any problems with your breathing, lungs or allergies please talk to one of our practitioners about this. From sinus to lymphatics to lungs it is all important to aid body function. I also want to emphasis the effects of mouth breathing compared to nose breathing. Mouth breathing might be something you have done for years but the sooner you can train yourself to emphasise nose breathing the better.
Mouth Breathing Can Aggravate:
Fatigue in athletes/ lower fitness
Chronic airway obstruction
Narrowing of the dental arch
Memory problems/ ADHD
Heart conditions/ BP
Dehydration – losing 40%more water
Lower vasopressin – so more need to release water/ maybe bedwetting
Mouth breathing leads to more mouth breathing
Benefits Of Nose Breathing:
Filters the air so the air is cleaner when it hits the lungs
Nitric oxide is increased naturally which aids circulation. Even nose breathing and humming increases the nitric oxide.
Moods are better
Weight is better
Erectile function help – by releasing nitric oxide into the blood steam which aids the blood flow to the penis. Interesting thing is Viagra helps erectile function by releasing nitric oxide.
There are so many people, (not to mention teenagers) with anxiety – wouldn’t it be simple if improving breathing could lower anxiety. Nose breathing and holding the breath longer helps anxiety levels.
90% of people have some degree of deformity in their mouths and noses
45% of adults snore occasionally
25% of the population snores constantly
Interesting information about breathing that is worth knowing
Take note of which nostril you are breathing out of at one time. Our nostril breathing is controlled by the autonomic nervous system and you will probably find that every few hours the nostril will switch from side to side. It is said that if you are right handed you may predominantly breath from your left nostril more.
Left nostril breathing is relaxing and good for anxiety.
Right nostril breathing is good for stimulation – great when logical decisions need to be made, you get hotter or warmer and things speed up, heart rate increases. One experiment done on a schizophrenic found that by increasing the right nostril breathing helped reduce hallucinations.
Did you know that the nose has a strong connection to hormones. This is logical if you think of the pheromones in animals being related to sexual arousal. Some people when they have sex get blocked up or the nose swells. This happens as the nose is intimately connected to genitals. When one gets aroused the other responds. Some people need to sneeze when they have sex.
Talk of breath would not be complete without talk of carbon dioxide. Most people know that when we breathe in we use the oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Most people know we need oxygen from the time we are born and most people think of carbon dioxide as bad or as waste however this is not entirely right. It is all in the balance. Then if oxygen is so good why do we take antioxidants to help keep well? Antioxidants are another way of saying anti-oxygen. They are the good things and this is where it gets confusing for many: oxygen, yes keeps us alive but it also ages us.
The lost art of breathing
Could breathing better lead to restoration. The first step is to consciously practise nose breathing as often as you can during the day and before bed and on waking.
Breath for thought- everyone in the world alive breathes and today few of us breathe well.
There are many ancient breathing techniques and practices from many cultures. The key is to be patient, consistent in practicing new techniques, and absorb what good breathing has to offer. It is not complicated and every good breath in ( fresh air), a slow hold and a good breath out is a bonus. It's a bonus to blood supply, longevity of life, balance and energy to our minds, balance of moods and energy flow to our whole body. With breathing better we can feel better, sleep better, run faster, swim better , live longer and evolve further.
‘Breathing is medicine. I forgot how to breathe, but I ‘m learning all over again.’
Quote Mandi Lynn
Ref: Book – Breath The New Science of a Lost Art By James Nestor