On the Nose
Well, in the nose, as that’s where breathing will serve you best.
Chris and I are in training to offer you evidence-based breathwork and nervous-system soothing techniques. These will be virtual sessions until it’s safe to resume the close-up work of massage.
As pandemic lockdown began, I felt lost, anxious, and fearful about the future. At times, I was terrified.
A review of a new book caught my attention. Chris and I read Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. The exercises and breathing guidance immediately helped calm my nerves. I cannot imagine how I’d have gotten through 2020 without making these changes.
Meanwhile, we needed pandemic-safe ways to get back to work. Chris and I enrolled in teacher-training certification for the Buteyko Method, along with studying other techniques compatible with what we’re learning. And what’s that?
Learning to Breathe Again
It sounds daft that anyone might be breathing incorrectly. I mean, they’d be dead, right? But how we breathe affects us long before the effects become lethal.
Many people habitually breathe through the mouth.
- Mouth breathing can begin after a period of nasal congestion and remain as a habit.
- Anxiety, asthma, and other conditions can cause people to mouth-breathe in an effort to get more oxygen, actually creating the opposite situation, which can lead to more gasping for air.
- Poor posture promotes mouth breathing, and mouth breathing promotes poor posture.
So why is that a problem? Mouth breathing and other disordered breathing can activate the fight-or-flight response, spike adrenaline, increase blood pressure, raise blood sugar, disrupt sleep, increase snoring and apnea, contribute to depression, and deplete the body’s energy and stamina.
“The science is very clear that nasal breathing and mouth breathing are vastly different things,” said James Nestor in a CBC interview.
Nasal breathing heats, pressurizes, filters, and conditions the air we breathe, leaving oxygen more available to our cells. Mouth breathing does none of this.
Breathing on the Nose, in the Nose: Slow, Low, Soft
Oxygenation of our cells happens only in the presence of carbon dioxide. Breathing too hard releases too much carbon dioxide, leaving you less able to get what you need from air, and likelier to breathe harder, creating a vicious cycle.
People have known this for thousands of years. It’s in the earliest recorded breathing technologies of yoga and Taoist practices. Scientists at Harvard, Stanford, and other institutions have been studying this for decades. Since COVID-19, their ideas are gaining mainstream attention, and practices with benefits are spreading.
If you’re reading this, you’re breathing, and you can help yourself. For habitual breathing, say 90 percent of the time,
- Breathe through the nose.
- Breathe slowly and into the diaphragm.
- Breathe softly and lightly, with less volume—deep breaths, not big breaths.
If you’ve got nasal congestion, there are ways to improve that. And if you’re laughing, eating, or doing a mouth-breathing exercise, that’s fine; just return to the habit of nasal breathing.
Got questions? We’d love to talk with you. Get in touch about breathing, in which we are all united.