If you already practice yoga, then you will be familiar with the importance of breathing in an out through the nose, for calming the mind and optimising oxygen intake throughout the body. Yes, we breathe out through the mouth sometimes in yoga, but the essence of the movement practice and the seated meditation is controlled nasal breathing.
Breathing steady and slow in and out through the nose helps increase the amount of oxygen delivered to our muscles and organs, including the heart and brain. The slow steady breath calms us down, or to paraphrase the yoga sutras of Patanjali: we still the fluctuations of the mind, and we increase our focus and attention.
Nasal breathing as opposed to mouth breathing, offers the following benefits:
- The nose filters, warms and moistens the air before it reaches the lungs.
- Breathing in and out through the nose helps us to take fuller and deeper breaths which stimulates the lower lungs to distribute greater amounts of oxygen throughout the body.
- The nasal passage releases nitric oxide, nitric oxide expands the blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow, and oxygen release.
- Breathing in and out through the nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, in particular the vagus nerve, which triggers the relaxation response.
Pay attention to how you breathe, if you breathe in and out through the mouth, or in through the nose and out through the mouth, try nasal breathing. It could take some time for you to get used to this, but it is well worth the benefits.
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