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Breathing through my Nose

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

“the greatest indicator of life span wasn’t genetics, diet, or the amount of daily exercise, as many had suspected. It was lung capacity.”

As a ginger, I underwent my fair share of childhood torment. So, as an adult, I never really took offense to the fact that some people hate "mouth breathers." Just like the color of my hair this was a feature that I felt I fundamentally couldn't change. I have always breathed through my mouth, unless I was in yoga where I deliberately (attempted to) practice nasal breathing. What likely started as allergies and stuffy noses is now a somewhat engrained habit to inhale and exhale through the mouth. At any given time one of my nostrils is blocked and breathing through my mouth had seemed more effective and less restrictive.

When I popped on the audiobook, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, I didn't anticipate the whole book would be about how bad my breathing was for me. How my face shape, teeth, endurance and psyche were negatively affected by my chosen/life given breathing style.

“Mouthbreathing, it turns out, changes the physical body and transforms airways, all for the worse. Inhaling air through the mouth decreases pressure, which causes the soft tissues in the back of the mouth to become loose and flex inward, creating less space and making breathing more difficult. Mouthbreathing begets more mouthbreathing.”

James Nestor, an author and journalist, examined history, science and culture of breathing and the impact on human health. After 10 years of research, the book was published in 2020 detailing a rise in snoring, sleep apnea, allergies, asthma and autoimmune disease could be linked to chronic mouth breathing and due to our soft food diet.

Over the last two weeks, I have made a concerted effort to alter my typical mouth-breathing. I attribute my ability to attend to my breathing as a direct result of the mindfulness routines I have implemented, including making daily activities more ritualistic, my gratitude practice and a more frequent yoga practice. While I can't say I have noticed any real difference in how I'm feeling, I did notice something interesting about the frequent blockage of one nostril (or the other). When I effortfully continued to breathe through my nose, despite feeling that I was only retrieving air from one nostril it began to clear up the other side.

I would highly recommend reading the book (or listening to it for free on libby). I would also recommend trying different breathing exercises for the purpose of exploration, relaxation and discovery.

Box Breathing is a great beginner technique for relaxation. Youtube Take a Deep Breath, appears to have a lot of resources available to explore for those curious.

Some breathing techniques are best explored under the direction of a practitioner at a "breathwork" class. I would highly recommend Breathwork and Beats with Mike G in the Bay Area, but would happily explore local options with you if you are living elsewhere.

Take a deep breath & enjoy your day,


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