Why You Should Breathe Through Your Nose

Breathing is something we all do (about 20,000 times per day), so who cares how we do it, as long as we do?
By SOAR Health & Performance
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September 18, 2023
Why You Should Breathe Through Your Nose

Breathing is something we all do (about 20,000 times per day), and something that we all know is important (more than 3 minutes without it, and we are...well, dead.).

It's not something most people even think twice about, and as long as you're breathing, who really cares?

You should! Let's talk about a few reasons why nasal breathing is the way to go.

There are two ways we are able to inhale oxygen: through our nose and through our mouth. Out of those two body parts, only one of them was built with necessary structure to filter out particles we should ingest and cool air as it enters directly into your lungs.

Yep, the nose. So, if we think about the fact that we breathe more than 20,000 times per day, ideally MOST of those breaths are through the nose so that the air we are actually breathing in is cleaned at cooled. This reason is pretty simple to understand. You can probably picture particles being cleaned as they inter the nostril and pass into the lungs.

The second reason is a little more abstract. It has to to do with your nervous system, and breathing in general as it relates to your nervous system is one of the most powerful tools you have.

If we know how to utilize our breath, we literally have the power to change our state. Our state describes our nervous system in an moment; think fight or flight vs. rest and digest. If you're being chased by someone with a knife, your state is in fight or flight (heightened). If you are laying on a beach without a care in the world, your state is in rest and digest (relaxed).

Those are two very extreme examples, and your state fluctuates throughout the day depending on the circumstances and how YOU are able to respond to them.

Back to the breath. If you think about running from some chasing you with a (hypothetical) knife, the type of breathing you would be doing in this (hopefully fake) scenario would likely be shortened, rapid, mouth breaths. Similar to if you were doing a hard workout or maybe something scared you. This type of breathing is what tells our nervous system to ramp up to help us stay alive and keep us on high alert.

Conversely, if you're laying on a beach without a care in the world, long slow nasal breaths would tell your nervous system that you're safe and there's nothing to worry about.

The problem arises when we breathe for the wrong situation. If you're a constant mouth breather, it's sending signals to your nervous system that you're in a somewhat heightened state. Even if the breaths aren't as dramatic as they might be if you had just been running, the state doesn't match the reality.

You should rarely be in that heightened state, and should be breathing through your nose 90% of the time. If you find yourself in a heightened state (maybe someone cut you off in traffic, or a child didn't do something you asked them to for the 100th time), using nasal breathing will allow you to get into a more calm state to react appropriately.

This becomes hugely important in situations where anxiety or panic attacks are present. If you picture someone having a panic attack (if you've ever had one or felt high anxiety you can relate), their breathing is rapid and they are breathing through their mouth.

Being able to self regulate and get back into nasal breathing allows their nervous system to recognize they are safe and there's no actual perceived threat.

There are MANY more benefits to breath, but the number one takeaway from this is that a majority of your breathing should be through your nose. If you are someone that regularly breathes through their mouth (snorers, we are looking at you!), you don't need to go from 0-100. Set a timer for 1 minute a day where you sit in a chair and intentionally breath through your nose. Increase it over time until it becomes a natural habit.

If you are someone who already breathes through their nose most of the time, you can start playing around with nasal breathing while exercising!

If this is something you have trouble with, or you find that you're always in a heightened state, have shoulder, back, or neck discomfort, we might be a perfect fit to help you as everything starts with the breath, and just like a muscle, it can be trained!

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