Until a few short years ago I was not as familiar with how powerful our breath can be for so many functions of our mind and body and how powerful it is to health and immunity.
I remember learning about mouth taping at night many years ago at courses as a personal trainer but at those times I was more interested in other aspects of those courses and found I focused my attention there.
A few years ago I wanted to delve into knowing more about breath work, specifically to see how it could improve my mindset and personal performance. Since then it has taken me down a few roads of exploration of learning and studying.
Last year I became a Soma Breath certified instructor which inspired me to eventually, this year, follow my heart and open a studio dedicated to teaching others the powerful benefits this has on all aspects of life and well being, naming the studio ‘ The Breath Works’.
What do you mean teach me how to breathe? I've been breathing all my life without a thought? It might be what you are thinking and you would be right, and also right about breathing without a thought, not conscious of how you breathe and the impact that it has on your health and mental well being which is how I was before.
I have been coaching people in health and fitness and personal development for a long time now and I am always intrigued to keep learning and knowing more, which took me down the path of breath work in particular.
Now breath work isn’t something new. It has been around for thousands of years. Ancient yogis have taught and practised the importance of breathing and in specific ways through functional breathing patterns, and most new breath work practises originate from those early teachings of Pranayama which is sanskrit for Prana = “Life energy” Yama = “ Control”, Breath Control.
Our breath is life energy but we take it for granted, never giving it a second thought. It is automatic from the day we take our first breath and until we take our last but how those breaths impact us is something I wanted to learn more about and to help teach people why we should be more conscious of how we breathe.
Dysfunctional breathing is unfortunately the norm for us and the negative impact those dysfunctional breathing patterns have on our health is not taught enough or known enough. Unless you go looking for it you won’t find much on it.
How we breathe impacts our immune system, our teeth and how they grow, jaw formation, it affects cognitive performance and how well we are able to think and process information. How we breathe impacts our sleep and our ability to fight off colds, flu and viruses. It impacts your nervous system and levels of stress and anxiety. Yes; how we breathe influences all of the above.
When we breathe we should breathe through our nose. Nasal breathing should be the only way and in most minutes of our lives how we breathe unless at times of extreme exertion or obviously when speaking. Why? Nasal breathing has been studied in so many ways to find the benefits it has on our physiology and also psychology and one of the most important reasons why we should be nasal breathing is because of a powerful gas called ‘Nitric Oxide’ and the benefits that it has on our health and natural immunity.
In 1992 it was named 'Molecule of the year' by Science magazine and in further studies in the 1990s it was shown to be 100 times more present in the nose than in lower airways. So what's the big deal?
According to Jon Lundberg, a professor of NO (Nitric oxide) pharmacologies at Sweden's Karolinska Institute; “Nitric oxide is constantly being released into the nasal airways as we breathe. Every time a breath is taken in through the nose, NO (nitric oxide) follows the airflow down into the lungs where it opens the airways and increases oxygen uptake by the blood” (The Breathing Cure - Patrick McKnown).
Our nose is the first line of defence in so many ways as it helps protect us by filtering the air that we breathe.
Nitric oxide has also been shown to protect against various viruses and bacteria and in the current times we are in it is a really important natural tool of immunity that we can all tap into, easily.
A 2013 paper; “Evidence for the cure of 'flu through nose breathing” reported that nasal breathing benefits patients with 'flu.
This is consistent with previous studies that showed nitric oxide has opposing effects in infections including pneumonia and 'flu. (The Breathing Cure, Patrick McKeown) A wave of clinical trials during the 2020 pandemic has continued to explore the antiviral properties of nitric oxide.
Research teams all over the world have studied inhaled nitric oxide for the treatment of Covid-19. Scientists theorised that high concentrations of inhaled NO, when administered in the early ages of infection would have a virucidal effect and prevent the progression to a more severe form of the illness.
Research also hypothesised that Nitric oxide might reduce the severity of the illness of patients' recovery time (McKeown). So by simply learning how to breathe better and more specifically breathing through our nose more we can reduce the symptoms and severity of colds and 'flu and of covid, but again this isn’t something you will hear much of until you research, read and look for it.
I would also recommend anyone looking to deep dive into knowing more about the science and the mechanics behind how we breathe to read the book cited above. As we can start to see how we are breathing, if we become more conscious of it can have profound effects on our health, mouth breathing in general is linked to so many health issues like asthma, allergies, sleep apnea and more.
The biggest feedback I get from clients and that I've worked with at my own practice is that breath work has helped them create an inner sense of calm and a deeper sense of connection. When we breathe in certain rhythmic patterns with specific counts and also with added music that heightens the senses, it brings our nervous system back under control activating more of a parasympathetic response which helps us relax and unwind.
Let's face it, most of society right now is stressed, overwhelmed, or in a state of uncertainty and fear which has so many feeling anxious and disconnected this has a negative impact on health mentally and physically but it has been shown for thousands of years that the benefits of breathwork can bring a more holistic health approach to all areas of health, mentally physically and spiritually and this is what I want to encourage everyone who comes to our new studio to learn more about through our sessions and workshops. More importantly to feel the changes and tap into those feelings more.
There is so much I could write about on this topic alone on why it is so important but I might leave that for another day or leave that for you to come and experience and try out this year at The Breath Works studio.
Check out The Mindset Junkie podcast here where I discuss why so many resolutions fail, and how to avoid it.