A simple question: Do you eat, consume food, through your nose? Everybody is probably saying “of course not”, why is this guy asking us such a silly question.
Well, my reply to that is, “then why do you breathe through your mouth”.
The mouth was designed for eating and the nose for breathing.
Breathing correctly will optimize oxygenation to your muscles, internal organs and your brain, and help you:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Reduce the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol
- Increase mood-boosting hormones like serotonin
- Balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system
- Improve athletic performance
- Improve mental focus and boost brain health
Do you now think breathing properly is worth the trouble?
You are probably thinking that you breathe all day long, and have been doing it for a long time, without giving it a second thought, so what is there to learn.
Common berthing mistakes are:
*Overbreathing (hyperventilating) and
* Mouth breathing
Usually both mistakes are made concomitantly, particularly during strenuous exercise.
If you train yourself to breathe through your nose during exercise, you will optimize performance, endurance, post-exercise energy levels, and even your ability to metabolize fat.
The following are some telltale signs that you’re not breathing as efficiently as you should:
* Frequent sighing
* Taking big breaths before you speak
* Chronic rhinitis (nasal congestion and runny nose)
* Upper chest breathing
* Noticeable heavy breathing during rest
* Sleep apnea
THE IMPORTANCE OF NOSE BREATING AND THE HAZARDS OF OVERBREATING
There are two very important GASES that you prevent from giving you their full and crucial benefits when you don’t breathe through your nose, or overbreathe.
* Nitric Oxide
* Carbon dioxide (CO2)
There is nitric oxide in your nose, and when you breathe through your nose a small amount of it is carried to your lungs. So what does the nitric oxide in your lungs do?
- Nitric oxide helps maintain homeostasis (balance) within your body
- Nitric oxide is a bronchodilator (dilates/expands the bronchi)
- Nitric oxide is a vasodilator (dilates/expands blood vessels)
- Nitric oxide has antibacterial properties that helps neutralize germs and bacteria
Lots of tricks under the hat; wouldn’t you say. The VASODILATOR property has profound implications regarding cardiovascular health and sexual performance, but that’s a topic for another post. Couldn’t resist; you must have read that watermelon has a very positive effect on male sexuality. Guess what watermelons, particularly the white part near the skin, have? That’s right NIRTIC OXIDE.
Now let’s take a look at CO2. We all think that CO2 is nothing more than a waste gas. Although we breathe to get rid of the excess, it is very important that our BREATING VOLUME IS NORMAL, because we need to maintain a certain level of CO2 in our bloodstream.
When one breathes too heavily, one looses carbon dioxide. This causes the smooth muscles around your airways and your blood vessels to constrict. Thus, you get less oxygen than you should be getting and this is very detrimental to your heart function.
During strenuous sports activity, like HIIT, when you believe that taking deeper breaths through your mouth allows you to take more oxygen into your body, which should make you feel better, THE OPPOSITE actually happens.
Try taking five or six big breaths in and out of your mouth. It is very likely that you will experience some light-headedness or dizziness. This is because you have eliminated too much CO2 from your bloodstream, which caused your blood vessels to constrict.
It can become a vicious cycle, where you feel dizziness and take in another big breath through your mouth to alleviate the problem, but it gets worse. This could even cause cardiac arrest or a heart attack.
The stress of modern living and even eating processed foods will make you breathe heavier.
A Russian physician named Dr. Buteyko, who had dangerously high blood pressure at the age of 26, discovered a method to address his own problem. His systolic was 22 and his diastolic 11; that is quite a PROBLEM.
You can look at the detrimental effects of incorrect breathing in the following website
The Buteyko Method teaches you how to bring your breathing volume back to normal.
Dr.Buteyko’s method includes a simple self-test for estimating your carbon dioxide levels. The assumption is that the level of CO2 in your lungs correlates with your ability to hold your breath after normal exhalation. You can use a stopwatch or count the seconds yourself. The process is as follows:
- Sit straight without crossing your legs and breathe comfortably and steadily.
- Take a small, silent breath in and out of your nose. After exhaling pinch your nose to keep air from entering.
- Start your stopwatch and hold your breath until you feel the first definite desire to breathe.
- When you feel the first urge to breathe, resume breathing and note the time. The urge to breathe may come in the form of involuntary movements of your breathing muscles, or your tummy may jerk or your throat may contract.
- Your inhalation should be calm and controlled, through your nose. If you feel like you must take a big breath, then you held your breath too long.
The time you measured is called the “control pause” or CP, and it reflects the tolerance of your body to CO2. Short CP times correlate with low tolerance to CO2 and chronically depleted CO2 levels. Below are the criteria for your evaluation:
- CP 40 to 60 seconds: Normal, healthy breathing pattern and excellent physical endurance
- CP 20 to 40 seconds: Mild breathing impairment, moderate tolerance to physical exercise and potential for health problems in the future (most people fall into this category)
- CP 10 to 20 seconds: Significant breathing impairment and poor tolerance to physical exercise; nasal breathing training and lifestyle modifications are recommended (potential areas are poor diet, overweight, excess stress, excess alcohol, etc.)
- CP under 10 seconds: Serious breathing impairment, very poor exercise tolerance, and chronic health problems.
So what is one to do?
BUTEYKO BREATHING EXERCISE
The first step to increase your CP is to learn how to unblock your nose with the following breath hold exercise. If you have any cardiac problems, high blood pressure, are pregnant, have type 1 diabetes, panic attacks, or any serious health concerns, then PLEASE DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH BEYOND THE FIRST URGE TO BREATHE.
The following exercise is very effective for decongesting your nose in just a few minutes. Repeat the following exercise several times in succession, waiting about 30 to 60 seconds in between rounds. Do the exercise on a regular basis. If you have nasal congestion, you will probably experience decongestion after about 6 rounds.
*Sit up straight
*Take a small breath in through YOUR NOSE, if possible, and a small breath out. If your nose is blocked, take a tiny breath in through the corner of your mouth.
*Pinch your nose with your fingers and hold your breath. Keep your mouth closed.
*Gently nod your head or sway your body until you feel that you cannot hold your breath any longer. (Hold your nose until you feel a strong desire to breathe.)
*When you need to breathe in, let go of your nose and breathe gently through it, in and out, with your mouth closed.
*Calm your breathing as soon as possible.
Once you have mastered breathing in and out through your nose gently, it will become your normal way of breathing. You will do with your mouth, what was meant to be done with it; EAT.
Seriously, I even do HIIT (sprinting and walking back, 8 times) while inhaling and exhaling through my nose.
I just remembered that in my previous post on MEDITATION, I only hint on proper breathing. One should, of course, use proper nose breathing while meditating. I think that after having made meditation part of ones daily routine, one automatically breathes properly. When you look at the benefits of meditation and proper breathing you will be struck by the overlap. So which affects which?? Something to ponder.
See you all in a couple of weeks; I think I deserve a short vacation.