The average adult breathes around 12 breaths per minute, each one of these unique breaths will have a positive effect on all of the bodily systems, yet we know little of our breathing unless we are into our yoga or breathwork.
Perhaps while you are reading this you have already started to count your breaths, it is also worth establishing whether you are a default nose breather or mouth breather, belly breather or upper chest breather as these will have quite an effect on your body, mind and wellbeing.
Certainly, in the current climate, breathing through the nose with its nasal passageways covered with small hairs and acting as vital filtering for the dust and irritants from the air we breathe would be recommended. I encourage my students to nasal breath as this also warms and humidifies the air before it hits the lungs, causing oxygen take up and respiration both easier and more efficient, something we promote in yoga, effortless effort.
Also, as we draw air in through the nose, it will pick up a wonder molecule in the nasal passage, nitric oxide. This neurotransmitter plays a role in every organ of the body, decreasing blood pressure, bolstering the immune system, acting as an anti-inflammatory for the arteries, enhancing memory and learning, influencing hormonal secretion, the list goes on and well worth investigating further on the web.
That is not to say mouth breathing is bad, when practiced in line with the many mouth breathing techniques available, can help us to tap into the subconscious part of ourselves and feel a sensation of bliss once mastered.
As far as breathing into the belly or higher parts of the lungs, it is probably no surprise that generally, we breath into our upper chests, with quite shallow breath. There is even a phenomenon called ‘email apnea’ where multitasking office workers breathe irregularly and shallowly – even at times holding their breath whist looking at their devices.
Again, in yoga we promote a good yogi breath, starting in the belly and filling up through the lungs, regulating and controlling our flowing movement through the practice. This alone reconnects us with belly breathing and it’s e huge benefits. A course of belly breathwork over several weeks has proven across many scientific trials to reduce anxiety across the participants and it is something we can all try. My personal triumphs with belly breath were each time I lined up for an interview or assessment, and at the build up to competing in races and even stuck at another set of roadworks!
There is so much on the internet about breathwork and worth further investigation, otherwise attend a yoga class and participate in some of the great breath awareness techniques you will encounter. Maybe just one of these techniques could improve your own wellbeing and it’s been there right under your nose all the time!