For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. ~Sanskrit Proverb
Yoga is all about breathing. This came as a bit of an eye opener and for years I really never understood why. Gradually as I did more yoga I collected some tips and facts about breathing which are useful even if you don’t practice yoga. I became a big believer in the power of the breath after a chiropractor pointed out to me that my shoulder pain of over a year was being caused by breathing through my mouth as I talked. With one simple breathing exercise the pain went away for good.
1) Ancient yogis believed we only have so many breaths for our life. If this is so why not stretch our life out a bit longer by taking slow and deep breaths?
2) Breathing is the only autonomous system of the body that we can also control. This means that the body governs it but we can change how we breathe through conscious breathing practices such as Pranayama.
3) Our breathe is an indicator of our mood and our mood is an indicator of our breath. This means that if we change how we breath we can change our mood. It also means that when our mood changes so does our breath.
4)We breathe in and out of our nose during a yoga practice for a few reasons but the main one is that when we breath like this we can’t take in so much air or expel so much air. So if we have to resort to opening our mouth to get more air it is an indicator that we have stepped into stressing or pushing our bodies. When we practice life/yoga we don’t want to stress out bodies by doing open mouth breathing. Our practice should be effort with ease.
The nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating. ~Proverb
5) When we breath we are either right nostril dominated or left nostril. You can find out which is more active by wetting your thumb and holding it to the right then the left nostril. The yogis believe that when the right is more open or breathing more smoothly we are more driven by the sympathetic nervous system which means we are more fired up, more active and aroused. Dominance in the left nostril tends to happen when we are relaxed and at ease. The dominance changes around every 20 minutes during the day. Single nostril breathing can help regulate left and right sides thereby creating balance in our nervous system
6) Breathing more slowly and taking longer breaths can reduce your appetite. People who breathe quickly or rapidly often overeat.
7) It is normal to take around 12 cycles of breath per minute. Asthmatics and people who hyperventilate can take in double this amount of breaths. This leads to taking in more oxygen but expelling too much CO2. When your CO2 is decreased you can’t get as much oxygen setting up a cycle whereby you breath even faster.
8) There are some common breathing habits that we have that we may not even know about. They are; Only breathing into the chest. Inhalations stronger than exhalations, breath holding, mouth breathing, reverse breathing ( where the diaphragm rises instead of falls on the inhale) and over breathing.
9) Mouth breathing can contribute to the following. misaligned bite, bad breath, snoring, sleep apoea and night-time urination.
10) The lungs are enormous. The right lung is larger than left lung.The left lung is made up of 2 lobes while right is made up of 3 lobes. If you laid out the lungs flat they would cover a tennis court ( about 70 m2!)