Breathing is easy, it’s natural, you just do it don’t you? But wait a minute, a new book by James Nestor entitled “Breath” points out that it’s not quite so simple!
It turns out that there is more to breathing than just letting it happen and the consequences can be damaging. We all know that if someone gets into a panic, they can start what’s called, hyperventilating, where they breathe deeply and rapidly- with the result that they can feel faint. And sometimes just thinking about a scary or highly stressful incident can induce the same reaction.
In both cases we breathe through our mouths and that we calm down by slowing the breathing down it will reduce the stressful sensations we go back to breathing through our noses-or do we?
Quite often, if the stress is low level and near continuous, we end up mouth breathing more than is healthy. But what’s wrong with breathing through the mouth you ask? Well according to James Nestor, breathing experts point out that nose breathing is the optimum way to breathe, except when undergoing physical exertion.
Why? Because amongst other benefits the nose is our own in-built air filtration and air conditioning system. Catching all the dust, dirt and germs floating around in the atmosphere. Which would otherwise be drawn deeply into the lungs when we breathe with our mouths. Also the air coming in via the nose is warmed and humidified, whereas it isn’t when coming in via the mouth.
Benefits such as these and many others are explained in his book, which whilst fascinating and is highly recommending reading, it doesn’t give any details of practices you can do to alleviate the situation. It appears that nearly all the techniques Nestor mentions are similar to a Yoga teachers handbook of Pranayama together with some of the physical exercises/practices utilised are also taught in a Pilates class. In view of this check out our short and entertaining theory and practical workshop on breathing efficiently for interested people to come and learn more about how the body breathes, how you can improve your breathing via some simple exercises from Yoga and Pilates and understanding what benefits you can gain.
Nestor, J (2021) Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art.