“In an awe-inspiring way I am wonderfully made.”
As air moves through the nasal passages, it is warmed and humidified before it goes into the lungs. Breathing is an unconscious act. It provides necessary oxygen to your body and without this oxygen the cells of your body would quickly die. But are you breathing the “right way”?
The Proper Way to Breathe
Breathing through the nose is the way our bodies were designed. In fact, it’s been said that breathing through your mouth is about as unpractical as trying to eat through your nose!
According to experts, most people breathe at 10-20 percent of their full capacity. Restricted breathing greatly decreases respiratory function, which in turn decreases energy levels in the body. Since oxygen is our main source of life, poor breathing can contribute to a multitude of health problems, from high blood pressure to insomnia.
Many of us feel stressed out, overworked and over stimulated during our daily lives, which leaves us in a chronic state of fight or flight response. Breathing in and out through the nose helps us take fuller and deeper breaths. This stimulates the lower lung to distribute greater amounts of oxygen throughout the body. Also, the lower lung is rich with parasympathetic nerve receptors that are associated with calming the body and the mind. The upper section of the lungs are stimulated by chest and mouth breathing. This type of breathing prompt us to hyperventilate and triggers sympathetic nerve receptors, which result in the fight or flight reaction.
Breathing through Your Workout
What is another reason to embrace proper nasal breathing? It can enhance your workout! John Douillard, author of Body Mind Sport, says:
“To experience the zone in training is our birthright, and it is within the design of our human nervous system to access it. To push ourselves to exhaustion when we have the capacity to allow effortless, perfect performance to flow naturally, from the inside out, seems somehow primitive and a waste of time. I have never heard of a peak experience that was described as painful, grueling or exhausting. Rather, the descriptions always fit the original definition of exercise: rejuvenating, stress-reliving and accessing full human potential.”
Galina Denzel, coauthor of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well: 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week states, "We tend to hold our breath as a way to stabilize during certain workouts.” This is not good! We need regular oxygen to continue to feed our muscles. Poor breathing while exercising could result in health issues or even injury.
Herbs to Improve Breathing
There are times of the year when certain body systems take on more strain. Certain herbs can help support the respiratory tract during the colder months. A few herbs we turn to are marshmallow root, slippery elm bark and licorice root, which can be made into a soothing beverage to sip on throughout the season. To make your own throat soothing tea, we recommend making a traditional decoction.
Breathing Easy Tea Recipe
For two servings, in a cooking pot combine ½ teaspoon of licorice root and 1 teaspoon of cut and sifted marshmallow root and 1 teaspoon of sustainably-harvested slippery elm bark. Next add 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Strain herbs and serve.
YES! Breathe and make sure you’re doing it properly!