Breathing: Don’t take it for granted

We breathe without thinking about it most of the time. It’s what keeps us alive.

Some are more aware of their breathing if they practice yoga or mindfulness but generally speaking, it just happens.

But did you know that the way you breathe can make a difference? Breathing through your nose has many health benefits to both mind and body.

Your nose filters and conditions the air you breathe. Imagine your nose as a super-efficient filtration system, preventing unwanted particles from entering your lungs. Thanks to tiny hairs called cilia and the intricate maze of your nasal passages, airborne debris like dust, pollen, and bacteria are filtered out, saving your respiratory system from unnecessary trouble.

Also, the nose is an exceptional humidifier. As air passes through the nasal cavity, it gets warmed and moistened. This process helps maintain optimal moisture levels in your respiratory system, preventing dryness and irritation.

Breathing through your nose can boost your oxygen intake. The nose acts as a fantastic oxygen delivery system. As the air enters through the nostrils, it encounters a clever network of blood vessels known as the nasal turbinates. These turbinates warm and humidify the air, while also increasing its surface area. This leads to enhanced oxygen absorption in your lungs, allowing you to maximize the benefits of each breath.

Most of us take deep breaths through our noses when we feel stressed and need to calm down. This acts as a sort of re-set button for your mind and body. Breathing in this way activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels.

I use deep breathing sometimes if I’m having trouble getting to sleep or feel anxious over something. By concentrating on your breathing, it takes your mind away from the problem and has the calming effect you need. I’m told that this is a small part of mindfulness which again can help with our daily lives.

Not only does nasal breathing help you stay calm, but it also improves your ability to concentrate. Research suggests that nasal breathing increases alpha brainwave activity, which is associated with enhanced focus and cognitive performance. So, the next time you find yourself in need of a mental boost, close your mouth, take a deep breath through your nose, and let the tranquility and focus wash over you.

Breathing through your nose whilst sleeping can contribute to better quality sleep. Nasal breathing during sleep ensures that the air you inhale is properly filtered and moisturized, preventing dry mouth and potential snoring. Great news for you and your partner if your snoring is bad (my wife says mine is but I don’t believe her!)

Moreover, breathing through the nose promotes optimal oxygen exchange, ensuring that your brain and body receive an adequate supply of oxygen throughout the night. This can lead to improved sleep quality, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the day.

It may seem strange to have to learn how to breathe, but look at it this way – we have never had to learn how to breathe before, it’s a natural thing that our body does – but through the power of science we can enhance what nature has given us by changing our breathing habits.

We can improve our physical health as well as our mental health by doing the most natural thing in the world – and it won’t cost us a penny or have a damaging effect on the planet. So take a few moments each day to practice breathing through your nose until it becomes normal, and feel the benefits.