As I was explaining Ujayii breath last week in my Tuesday night beginner class, a student asked why? Why do we breath through our nose? Why can't I breath through my mouth? I feel like I'm not getting enough air through my nose. I forget to do this once I start flowing.
Explaining Ujayii pranayama - how to do it, where you should feel it, what it should sound like, what body parts to engage and disengage - that has become somewhat routine to discuss in class but the answer to why hasn't so I started digging and here is what I found.
Improper, shallow, mouth breathing can lead to all kinds of medical problems. Inhaling pulls oxygen into our bodies and all of our vital organs. If you inhale through your mouth there are no "booby traps" so to say where the toxins in the air get trapped before making through the rest of your body. In other words, breathing through your mouth allows all the bad things in the air straight into your body. A deep inhale through the nose 1. allows you to get enough oxygen throughout the body 2. traps the bad stuff in the air before spreading it to all your vital organs. The first trap are your nose hairs to catch any particles in the air, the second is a mucus filled passageway down to your lungs that can help warm very frigid air and lastly, the inner nose contains glands and the Ol-factory that can detect poisons and eliminate remaining bacteria. If we breath in through our mouth all of these bacteria eliminating mechanisms are skipped. If our breath is shallow on the exhale we do not release all of the carbon dioxide in our bodies and our cells become oxygen deprived.
We come into the world breathing correctly as infants and as we grow older we unlearn the proper way to breath. Our emotions and the stresses of life start to take over and as we move faster throughout life our breath also picks up the pace. If you take notice the next time you are frustrated or angry or upset, you'll see that your breath is short and quick. Slow down, take a deep breath and try to find the same length inhale as you do exhale. Seal your lips, from the back of your throat pull the oxygen in through your nose, expand the belly and count to 4. As you exhale engage, your diaphragm, deflate the belly, and push out every last drop of carbon dioxide as you count backwards from 4. Overtime, start to increase the length of each breath.
Proper Breathing can:
- Decrease blood pressure
- Decrease heart rate
- Increase circulation
- Improve the quality of your blood
- Decrease heart disease
- Improves digestive & respiratory functions
- Helps with healthy skin and decreases facial wrinkles
- Fights against mental disease in newborn children
- Fights thyroid disorders
- Helps the nervous system
- Relaxes the mind
Fun Fact: Animals that breathe the slowest, live the longest - can you guess which animal? ELEPHANTS!