For the many of you who practice Ashtanga yoga, breathing through your nose is a common practice as our core breathing style is Ujjayi Pranayama, a breathing technique where one inhales and exhales through the nose while gently lifting the roof of the mouth to slightly restrict the airway and create a soft humming sound.
But did you know how healing nostril breathing really is?
According to the research done by James Nestor which he lays out in his New York Times bestseller Breath, many of the illnesses which we believe shorten the breath, reduce lung capacity, or limit necessary blood oxygen levels may have reverse causation. This means, the disease isn’t affecting our breath, our inability to breath properly is causing the disease!
Diseases we consider mental disorders also show this link to poor breathing, including ADHA, anxiety and depression. Correct breathing eases the impacts of trauma.
That is the right way to breathe? Mainly, it’s through the nose. One should breathe through the nose not just during Ashtanga yoga or trauma informed yoga but all the time, including during strenuous exercise and while sleeping.
Nestor and the long list of specialists he interviews, urge us to breathe slowly and as little as possible which actually increases the amount of oxygen molecules that get delivered throughout our body.
It takes time to be able to breathe this way especially when stressed or triggered by previous trauma, but by incrementally training the body to breathe through the nose, slow down, and by increasing breath capacity by stretching and relaxing the muscles around the lungs we can reduce and even eliminate most illness. Tim Ferris’s latest podcast episode with Dr. Andrew Weil boasts the same advice.
The beautiful thing is that this is what we teach in my Ashtanga based trauma informed yoga classes at Three and a Half Acres. Our approach is to slowly increase breath capacity and get trauma survivors to use their nose! You can learn my approach to Ujjayi Pranayama, which is very subtle and less constrictive on my Intro to Ashtanga downloadable course which is also trauma informed.
Could curing our nation be as simple as breathing through the nose?
It’s something the medical industry doesn’t want you to know, but I think so.