As a yoga practitioner and teacher, I was always taught to breath through the nose during asana. In fact, in our everyday natural state, awake or asleep, we should always breathe through the nose. There are many benefits for nose breathing as opposed to mouth breathing and here’s why.
The nose has an innate immunity and eliminates airway pathogens. When bacteria is inhaled into the nose, exosomes are released that directly attack the pathogens and shuttle the protective anti-microbial proteins from the front of the nose to the back along the airway, protecting other cells before they get too far into the body. So nose breathing can act as an early warning and defence system for the rest of the body.
Did you know that when we mouth breathe pathogens such as dust mites enter the lungs and can live within them for up to three or four months. When breathing in through the nose, the nose can kill these dust mites in just fifteen minutes!
Nose breathing also slows the airflow movement, which comes in through the nose and down in a circular pattern due to the inside shape of the nose. This slow movement is beneficial for the lungs. Lung tissue is sensitive and when cold air comes in through the mouth it can stress and damage it. If lung tissue is damaged it affects the whole nervous system.
Nose breathing allows air to move deeper into the bottom of our lungs due to the vacuum that is created within it. The air is sent deeper into the lungs where there are more alveoli and more efficient air exchange within them. Alveoli are tiny air sacs in your lungs that take up the oxygen you breathe in and keep your body going.
Nose breathing also produces nitric oxide, which is a natural gas of respiration. It is produced in the paranasal sinuses and if you don’t breath through the nose, you aren’t able to take that nitric oxide into the body. Nitric oxide is something that our body needs, and it does a lot of amazing things. Firstly it is a vasodilator, which means that it regulates blood pressure by dilating and opening the arteries. Nitric oxide is also a bronchodilator, meaning that it opens the bronchioles, the little branches in the lungs that allows airflow movement through them. And interestingly, nitric oxide is a neurotransmitter regulator, helping to regulate serotonin, a key hormone that regulates our mood and feelings of well-being, glutamate and GABA. So by breathing through your nose you are:
allowing better blood flow
allowing better air flow
Helps regulate your mood. WOW!!!
And the best bit of all, did you know that humming increases nitric oxide by 15%. No wonder we feel so good after chanting long OM’s and practicing Brahmari pranayama (bumble bee breath)!!!!!!