Health is Just a Breath Away

The De-Stress Button: health is just a breath away.

We all have this amazing gift that we carry with us everywhere we go. A tool that enables us to burst into a fast sprint if we came across a bear in the bush, or to instill a sense of calm, clarity and increased immunity within us. This gift is our breath. In ancient yogic tradition learning how to control your breath is called pranayama or breath control. As we begin to learn how to control the breath, we can ultimately learn how still the mind, lower blood pressure, decrease stress, anxiety, depression and increase our concentration. Lets explore this together:
Adjust your body so you are in a comfortable upright position, creating a posture of awareness. Notice the sensation of your inhale and exhale as it moves through out your body without changing its natural direction.
Now, open your mouth and breathe in and out through your mouth 5 times.
Now,closing your mouth and breathing in and out only through your nose 5 times.
Now, still breathing through your nose only, next exhale draw your belly button back to your spine to squeeze out any extra air. As you inhale, fill you belly first like a balloon and then guide that same breath up into your rib cage expanding your chest. Exhale, draw the belly back emptying out all air. Lets try that again, working you way up to 5 full complete yogic breaths.

How did your body respond to breathing just through the mouth?

When we breathe through the mouth it directs the air to the upper lobes of the lungs. This is where the lungs stress receptors and the connection to our sympathetic nervous system- the flight or fight response- is located. When you take a deep breath in through the mouth it fills the upper lobes of the lungs first activating the stress receptors and engages the flight or fight response. This is what gives you that quick burst of energy to run away from a Bear.
Our lungs have 5 lobes and a majority of people breath only into the two upper lobes, leaving most of their lung space dormant. If all, or a majority, of those 26,000 breaths we take in a day are shallow, upper chest mouth breaths, then these stress receptors will be continuously activated. This constant activation of the emergency stress response taxes our adrenal glands, compromises immunity and are degenerative for the body. Plus, during mouth breathing , air and its associated prana – the body’s energetic life force- are moved in and out of the body without entering the sinus cavity, resulting in less prana being absorbed into the brain and nervous system. (The breath has been associated with life force throughout history, in China it is called chi, and in India it is called prana. Prana, is carried into the body and cells through water, food and air. This is why pure water, fresh food, exercise and breathing techniques are fundamental components to perfect health.)

How did your body respond to breathing only through the nose?

Breathing through the nose, on the other hand, delivers the air deeper into the lower lobes of the lungs because of the structure inside the nasal passage and sinus cavity. Turbines, or turbinates in the nasal cavity, allow air to spin and move in a more thin rotating stream. This forceful and direct stream of air effectively penetrates the deeper, lower lobes of the lungs where the receptors for the Parasympathetic Nervous System are concentrated.

Ahhhh….Our De-Stress button!!
The nasal breath practices used during pranayama are teaching the body how to deal with stress , cope with fear and prevent the impacts of extreme stress problems such as immune compromising, disease producing and mood destabilizing physiological effects. Deep nasal breathing not only facilitates a feeling of calm, and offers health and performance benefits, but it is the key ingredient in the development and full use of our nervous system.
Breathing through the nose provides something else that breathing through the mouth cannot. With proper nasal breathing, the amount of prana (life force energy) available to the nervous system is increased and it directly accesses the brain. Prana is carried by oxygen and enters the nasal cavity with the breathe. While in the nose, the air is cleaned, warmed, and filtered before it enters the sinuses and lungs. While moving through the nose, prana moves through the olfactory plate directly into the emotional cortex or limbic system of the brain and connects with the cerebral hemisphere of the frontal lobes; the cognitive thinking part of our brain. A pranayama practice called Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) uses a technique where you alternate breathing in and out of one nostril at a time. By forcing the breath through opposite sides of the head, initiates a cycle of alternating cerebral dominance between the hemispheres of the brain. With depression and anxiety, one cerebral hemisphere of the brain is more active than the other. The right hemisphere shows greater activation in anxiety, while the left hemisphere is more active cause of depression. Healing powers of alternate nasal breathing prove to be significant in helping with these conditions.

By using yoga’s pranayama breathing techniques, plus daily nasal breathing and making them a way of life we can prevent the impacts of stress. The breath opens the doors giving us access to our full or enhanced human potential. Ang can you jazz this part up please:) I encourage you to visit us at Satya Yoga & Wellness Studio, a place to unfold the potential to heal, nourish and inform our lives. Visit for class description and upcoming events. All you need is a flexible mind……plus, your first class if free:)

Tricia Hohert
Co-owner/ Operator
Satya Yoga Studio
RYT200 ~Classical Ashtanga
RYT500 (in process) Mount Madonna Center, California

“Perfect Health for Kids,” Dr. John Doulliard
“Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,” Baba Hari Dass
“MMC School of Yoga Teacher Manual,” Mount Madonna Center

One Comment

  1. Put nicely, thanks for sharing!

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