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Shut your mouth!


If you are reading this, please, with all due respect, close your mouth, unless of course you are eating or talking, because that is the only need to open the mouth. The nose is for breathing.

Nose breathing is healthy. It cleans, filters and humidifies the inhaled air. I have gradually become a nose breather through yoga and the awareness it. I am also aware of the fascinating construction of the nose with its tiny hair like cilia that act like tiny brooms, sweeping a carpet of mucus, our first line of defence, that picks up the fine particles and pollutants that enter the body and deposit them into the gut where the stomach acid will neutralise them.

The small bones within the nose are turbinates which are like miniature air conditioners within the nose. The turbinates ensure that inhaled air flows over as many of the cilia as possible, and they also humidify and warm the air to body temperature -- just how the lungs like it for efficient breathing.

The sinuses that surround the nose produce nitric oxide which is a powerful smooth muscle relaxant. It helps keep the airways and blood vessels open and relaxed, keeping asthma and high blood pressure in check. But that is not all. Nitric oxide also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties; so, nose-breathed air that is mixed with nitric oxide will help ward off infections, colds and flu.

You can appreciate why people who nose breathe get fewer colds and flu.

If your nose feels blocked and difficult to breathe through, the chances are it is because it has not been used enough. My mantra when I teach yoga is “Use it or lose it" which applies just as much to the nose. If you constantly breathe through your mouth the nose will block up. The best way to unblock the nose is to force yourself to breathe through it. This may be difficult at first as you will feel as though you are not getting enough air, but over a few hours to a few days of constant nose breathing it should become free and clear. Try it - if you can breathe through your nose for three minutes, you can breathe through your nose forever.

I like running, I have for 30 years now, when I gave up the ciggies. When out on a run, I have always breathed through my mouth, as I felt I needed to take in as much air into the lungs to keep me going. Lately though, after researching nose breathing and it’s benefits within endurance sports, I am now breathing in and out through the nose when I run. At first it was an effort and quite challenging, but the body works it out and I now run much better, more comfortable, and I am not going into the red as I did before.

I still get enough oxygen to the muscles and brain, but more important, I maintain a better balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, and this is why nose breathing works, my nose is perfectly formed to sustain respiratory functions for my body, (It may not be an aesthetically beautiful nose, but it is fit for purpose).

Mouth breathing and daily stress cause us to take in too much air, often in a gasping, irregular fashion. This air may not be entirely clean as well and especially with so many viruses circulating these days.

The mouth is designed for eating, drinking and talking; the nose is designed for smelling and breathing. Use it or lose it, so just breathe through it!

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