Nose Breathing: Why it’s better to breathe through your nose

Nose breathing. Babies do it. Dogs do it. In yoga, they call it Pranayama, or breath control. Conscious breathing is the link between the body and the mind. It can help control our emotions. Notice your breath the next time you are anxious. It will be fast and shallow. When you consciously slow and deepen the breath, especially when breathing through the nose, anxiety lessens.

According to DoYouYoga.com, “The cerebral cortex is activated through consciously slowing down the release of breath. Then the cerebral cortex sends inhibitory impulses to the respiratory center in the midbrain. These inhibitory impulses from the cortex overflow into the area of the hypothalamus, which is concerned with emotions, and relax this area. This is why slowing down the breath has a soothing effect on your emotional state.” (https://www.doyouyoga.com/why-is-breath-so-important-in-yoga/)

The most effective way to slow down and control the breath is through Nose Breathing. Nose breathing benefits the breather in the following ways:

  • it relaxes the stress response
  • it increase blood flow
  • it increase mental focus
  • it helps fight infection
  • it helps maintain body temperature
  • it removes toxins from the body
  • it relieves blockages in the body
  • it increases oxygenation during exercise

“Nasal breathing (as opposed to mouth breathing) increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes.” (Swift, Campbell, McKown 1988 Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation. Lancet 1, 73-75). When you breathe through the mouth, you bypass important stages of of the breathing process, such as proper oxygen uptake.

But wait, there’s more. According to a resent article in Forbes, nose breathing affects our memories! “Our study shows that we remember smells better if we breathe through the nose when the memory is being consolidated – the process that takes place between learning and memory retrieval…The results showed that when the participants breathed through their noses between the time of learning and recognition, they remembered the smells better…”
(https://www.forbes.com/sites/robinseatonjefferson/2018/12/19/babies-do-it-so-do-fitness-trainers-now-scientists-say-it-might-even-improve-memory/#5e7362b4ddbc)

So take a deep breath – through your nose – you’ll feel better. You might even remember more!

Photo by Carlo Navarro on Unsplash