Breath is important and highly undervalued or overlooked. Animals breath through their nose unless they are hunting, being hunted, anxious or sick. If you have a dog then you may have noticed that they tend to pant and breath through their nose when they are anxious. When they are at peace, which is most of the time, they breath through their noses. This is important and I will explain to you why.
Humans, contrary to other animals, primarily breath through their mouths, which tells the brain to prepare for battle or run away. It did not start this way since infants and young children tend to breath through their noses and into their belly. Somehow, along the line people lost that connection between nose breathing and the diaphragm. Just as the length of the breath is important in maintaining a calm nervous system, it is also important HOW we are breathing.
By default, our nervous system is easily excited and tends to be more dominant with sympathetic stimulation also referred to as fight or flight. This means we have to be more diligent in stimulating the parasympathetic side of the nervous system for rest and restoration, which can be done by breathing through the nose. This simple action helps to stimulate our vagus nerve, which releases serotonin thus supporting the rest, restore and digest processes of the body. When breathing through the nose, it also creates a natural anti-inflammatory called nitric acid to lower blood pressure and increase absorption of oxygen by dilating tubes in the lungs.
Breathing through the nose also slows down the breath. When we breath slowly and deeply, it lets our brain know that we are safe. Cortisol levels are kept at lower levels when we feel safe which allows all the systems of the body to operate easily and peacefully. In addition, faster breathing makes our hearts beat faster. A faster heartbeat indicates to the brain that there is danger. Chronic states of fight or flight when at rest with no real threat or danger can be perpetuated by a fast heartbeat and fast breathing.
Stimulating your vagus nerve through nose breathing while engaging your diaphragm with deep belly breathing creates a blend of calming serotonin and dopamine needed for relaxed heart rate. In addition, only nasal breathing connected with belly breathing moves the diaphragm downward when we inhale, literally massaging the gut over 20,000 times a day. Emotions are stored in the gut and proper diaphragm breathing massages the muscles and organs associated with this area, keeping them flexible and open to opportunities in the present moment.
So you may be saying to yourself that all this sounds great but since my nose is always stuffed up then how is this possible? I get it! I have had sinus issues since I was a kid; infections, congestion, allergies, you name it and I had it. Because of this issue I have always sought out remedies. I am going to share with you some of the best I have used. The first is a nasal wash called Xlear. It is a simple wash with xylitol and is all natural. I like Xlear for regular maintenance and cleansing of the tissues inside the nose. You can click on this link and find it directly on amazon.
You may also have chronic inflammation in the tissues that just closes up the passageways and can even cause snoring. I have found that Sinus Plumber works great for this. I have to give a fair warning though… it uses capsaicin and horseradish for this. Sinus Plumber really clears out the sinus and reduces inflammation but it can make your toes curl. The discomfort is temporary and the relief in the sinuses and nasal passages do last for quite some time so I found it to be worth the initial discomfort. You can find the link for amazon here. There is also a capsaicin version of Xlear that is a bit less potent. I have tried the Xlear version and went back to Sinus Buster because it seemed to be more effective. You can find the link for Xlear capsaicin here.
Sometimes you need to just clean the whole sinus area and nasal passages out. There is a system for this. I first learned about this method from going to an ear / nose / throat specialist and he used a machine to rinse out my sinuses and I felt great for weeks afterward. I finally started doing it myself and have found that the Xlear system is the best. You can find a link for amazon here for the sinus wash system from Xlear.
The real game changer came when I discovered Natures Sunshine products and they have a fantastic product for helping promote healthy sinus and nasal passages called Seasonal Allergy (formerly ALJ). Do not be swayed by the name, as it is not just effective for allergy issues. For me personally I have found it reduces inflammation and mucus and makes my nasal and sinus passages feel clear and unobstructed. When I am having more issues around spring and fall I need to take more… up to 4 capsules 3x a day but it is worth it. There is also a product that they have to help reduce histamine production which is effective during allergy season and it is called Histablock. I love both of these products, Seasonal Allergy and Histablock, and use them regularly throughout the year and found I do not need the sinus buster or the sinus wash nearly as often. I still use the Xlear sinus cleansing spray several times a week though because it helps promote the natural cleansing process of your nasal passages.
Now you can sniff out some good relaxation with nose breathing! I personally have found dramatic improvements in my quality of sleep and feeling more rested and restored generally from practicing nose breathing, day and night. I always wake up feeling more rested if I am able to breathe through my nose through the night vs through my mouth. I hope it makes as much of a difference for you!