Monday, April 7, 2014

Breathing Through Both the Nose and Mouth Simultaneously


I have pondered for a long time about the most salutary method of breathing. I have read sensible rationales for breathing in different ways, especially for breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. For a while, I thought it was best to breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose because breathing out through the nose takes longer, and thus extends the exhalation relative to the inhalation, and must therefore activate the vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system (the resting branch). Now I prefer breathing in and out through both the nose and the mouth at once, allow me to explain how and why.
To do this, simply breathe in a way that you can feel air passing through both your nostrils and your teeth and lips. At first the only palpable sensations seem to come from these areas, but after a while you notice the pharyngeal structures in the back of the throat that are responsible for this kind of breathing. Not only do you learn how to control them, but you learn how to relax them. Usually when you breathe through your nose the passage way between your trachea and mouth is cut off by your uvula. Look in the mirror and open your mouth wide. When you look into the back of your throat you can see a fleshy, finger-like structure above the back of your tongue. Keep your eye on it and breathe through your nose. You will probably notice that the tongue rises up and obscures the uvula sealing off your mouth from the breath. Now practice breathing through the mouth and nose while keeping an eye on your uvula. It will feel unnatural at first, but keep at it.
 
When I breathe in through both nose and mouth it feels like I am relaxing muscles throughout my face, pharynx, and throat. While doing this, the tension in my nose and around my eyes dissipates. I think that the main reason why people don’t do this habitually is because we are afraid that we look strange to others while doing it. Your face goes dead and you look “too calm.” I believe though that after using this form of breathing over hours, days, and weeks, that the face changes subtly. Bags under the eyes disappear and the eyes look more open, “clear” and happy. Chronic inflammation from the fatigue of your facial muscles disappears, leaving you feeling and looking better. When I first started doing this it felt unnatural and it looked unnatural to others. Now it feels great and looks normal as well.

After you have practiced this for a few days you might notice that you can breathe through both the mouth and nose even when the mouth is closed. By this I mean you can breathe through the nose while still relaxing the pharynx, as if the mouth were open. I started doing this because I was influenced by Taoist and yoga breathing techniques such as ujjayi breathing where one tries to breathe using the back of the throat. Ujjayi breathing makes a hoarse sound and has been called “ocean breath” because it involves vibrating the glottis as air moves in and out. I think that breathing through the nose and mouth together teaches us how to breathe properly and captures the benefits of the ujjayi breath without the costs (glottis tension).

I believe that the most efficient and effective way of breathing is to breathe through both airways simultaneously, anything less than this, and you are handicapping yourself. I also believe that breathing through either one or the other is a form of social submission and expression of desperation used by mammals to communicate rank and fear. It seems clear to me that the more I keep this up, the calmer I look and feel.

2 comments:

  1. I naturally breathe this way. I've recently started therapy and they've been teaching us breathing relaxation techniques. In through the nose and out through the mouth. It feel so unnatural but they say it's the healthiest way to breathe.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I naturally breathe this way. I've recently started therapy and they've been teaching us breathing relaxation techniques. In through the nose and out through the mouth. It feel so unnatural but they say it's the healthiest way to breathe.

    ReplyDelete