Normally, breathing is something we don’t take notice much. It’s an automatic, involuntary function, but does breathing through the nose or mouth make any difference? Do all of us just breathe the same? How we actually breathe makes a difference!
Via the nose, the air we breathe is first processed. The nose is a miraculous filter, called cilia, lined with tiny hair. The cilia have several functions: they filter, humidify and warm or cool the air until it reaches the lungs (depending on the temperature). It is estimated that cilia shield our bodies every day against around 20 billion foreign matter particles!
Air travels into the mucus-lined windpipe until it leaves the nose. This is another avenue before they enter the lungs to capture unwanted particles. Next, air reaches the lungs, where oxygen is pumped and circulated through the body into the bloodstream. The air leaving the body, in return, takes carbon dioxide from the cells with it a waste substance that is released by exhalation.
The way our bodies have been built is by breathing through the nose. In fact, breathing through your mouth has been said to be just as realistic as trying to eat through your nose!
Most individuals breathe at 10-20 percent of their maximum potential, according to experts. Restricted breathing reduces respiratory activity substantially, which in turn reduces the body’s energy levels. Because oxygen is our primary source of life, and exhalation is the primary way to remove contaminants from our bodies, inadequate breathing, from high blood pressure to insomnia, may lead to a multitude of health problems.
During our everyday lives, many of us feel stressed out, overworked, and overstimulated, which leaves us in a constant state of fight or flight response. Via the nose, breathing in and out allows us to take fuller, deeper breaths, which encourages the lower lung to disperse more oxygen across the body. The lower lung is also rich in parasympathetic nerve receptors associated with relaxing the body and mind, while the upper lungs, activated by breathing in the chest and mouth, prompt us to hyperventilate and activate sympathetic nerve receptors, resulting in a fight or flight response.
What other advantages? During exhalation, in addition to inhalation, the lungs directly absorb oxygen from the air. Since the nostrils are wider than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose allows air (and oxygen) to flow back into the lungs. And because we exhale through the nose more slowly than we do through the mouth, there’s more time for the lungs to absorb oxygen from the air we’ve already consumed. The blood can maintain a healthy pH when there is sufficient exchange of oxygen-carbon dioxide during respiration. If carbon dioxide is lost too rapidly, as in mouth breathing, oxygen absorption is reduced, which may lead to dizziness or even fainting.
Air moves through the nasal mucosa that we inhale through the nose, which activates the reflex nerves that regulate breathing. Breathing from the mouth bypasses the nasal mucosa and makes it difficult to breathe regularly, which can lead to snoring, irregular breathing and sleep apnea. Breathing through the nose forces one to slow down before proper breathing is exercised; hypertension and stress are also minimized by proper nose breathing. It also helps keep us during a workout from overexerting ourselves.
When it reaches our bodies, our nostrils and sinuses filter, and warm/cool air.
Our sinuses create nitric oxide, which combats dangerous bacteria and viruses in our bodies when brought into the bloodstream via the air, controls blood pressure and boosts the immune system.
Mouth respiration accelerates the loss of water, leading to dehydration. Olfactory bulbs are located in the nose, and are direct extensions of a portion of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, especially those that are automatic, is responsible for many functions in our bodies, such as pulse, blood pressure, hunger, appetite and sleep cycles. It is also the duty of the hypothalamus to produce chemicals that affect memory and emotion. Energy and vitality are increased by the increased oxygen we get from nasal air.
Breath practice is unique among all natural self-healing methods because breathing is the only deliberate means of enhancing, sustaining, and restoring the other processes of the body that run unconsciously. Through proper breathing habits, heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, digestion, hormone secretion, and even our mental and emotional states can all be managed, regulated, and healed.
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