Last Dazzling Blue we heard from the good Dr. Tim Brown about Alignment. This Dazzling Blue he edifies us about Breath, or more specifically, why it is good to breathe through the nose—
“Breath is a very powerful and underutilized skill. It’s not just as simple as inhale and exhale. We average around 23,000 breaths per day—more than 72 million in your lifetime! As kids we naturally breathe through our nose and into our bellies. This is known as ‘diaphragmatic breathing.’ This method naturally keeps the body and mind calm, allows oxygen to be taken into the lower lobes of the lungs (typical mouth breathers only use upper lobes of lungs which decreases oxygen intake to brain and body), and therefore creates more oxygen availability to be absorbed by the blood so it can be circulated to the muscles. Muscles need oxygen to function!
Why breathe through the nose? In 1993 the Pulitzer Prize for Medicine was given to three scientists who studied the effects of nose breathing. What they found was that there is a gas we store in our sinuses called nitrogen oxide, or NO. When we breathe through the nose the gas is released and mixes with the oxygen. This process helps sterilize the oxygen before it is then absorbed by the lungs. Next, NO dilates and opens the airway increasing the ability of your lungs to absorb more oxygen.
What was also discovered was that having NO mixed with the oxygen assists in pulling blood from lower lobes of the lung to the upper, which helps pull more oxygen into the blood. Nose or nasal breathing increases oxygen uptake by 10-15%. That’s huge when it comes to endurance!
This oxygen super-charger response doesn’t happen when you breathe through the mouth. On each breath we take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is like our lungs’ (think car) exhaust, but we need to control how much we exhale because it is actually another key that ‘opens the gate’ to allow oxygen to get into the muscles. If we nose/nasal breathe we can maximize this absorption, but if we breathe out too much exhaust (CO2) the oxygen can’t get into the muscles.
Work towards improving your nose breathing! Like any type of exercise or skill, the more you work on it the easier it becomes. As you work on your breath you can also slow the release of carbon dioxide by breathing in through the nose and into the belly and the back. Hold for 5-7 counts, then with tip of tongue touching roof of mouth, slowly exhale in 8-12 counts. The longer the exhale, the calmer you become, as your nervous system is triggered to move into the parasympathetic mode, which is your most relaxed, Zen, focused, flow mode.
Breathing is a skill. It will take time to restore and retrain your breathing muscles (the main one is called the diaphragm and it moves just like a jellyfish upon inhalation and exhalation!), but I can think of few things that are as important for your health, vitality, and fitness!”
For more of Dr. Tim Brown, go to IntelliSkin.net