(NaturalNews) Yoga is now widely recognized as a complementary health care tool in reducing stress, anxiety and depression and in lowering blood pressure. So, what is it about yoga that helps as an aid with these conditions? It`s the breath. While there are many different styles of yoga today, there is one thing they all have in common. They all incorporate nasal breathing into the movement. Those familiar with this practice will never see someone mouth breathing as seen in traditional exercise classes. Yoga students understand the nose is for breathing and the mouth is for eating.
Yoga breathing is called Pranayama. Pranayama means "to control the breath" or "mastering the life force." There are various types of breathing exercises from beginner to advanced. The techniques vary in degree of difficulty as do their healing qualities. Depending on the yoga style, some or all of these exercises are incorporated into a class.
By design, nasal breathing and mouth breathing facilitate totally different physiological responses in the body. Breathing through the nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and mouth breathing encourages the sympathetic nervous system. Your lungs deliver oxygen to your blood. If your lungs can`t get enough oxygen to your blood, you can feel short of breath, and mouth breathing begins which elevates the heart rate and encourages the release of more sympathetic hormones into our system.
Some pioneers in the alternative health industry are revealing that our traditional exercise programs are now adding additional stress to the body because of the mouth breathing. John Douillard measured the autonomic nervous system during exercise comparing nasal breathing versus mouth breathing. This revealed a significant increase in the sympathetic system and a significant drop in the parasympathetic system during conventional mouth breathing exercise. However, when incorporating nasal breathing during the exercise, the sympathetic system experienced only a 50% increase and the parasympathetic system, which declined in mouth breathing, saw an increase of 50%. "The opposite nervous systems were co-existing," said John Douillard.
In addition, breathing through the nose leads to a 10-15% higher oxidation of the blood. You get more oxygen in your blood by breathing through your nose. This happens from a physiological response from Nitric Oxide, which is formed in the sinuses of human beings. This discovery was made in 1998 by 3 American researchers, who won the Nobel Prize for medicine for this discovery. Prior to this discovery, Nitric Oxide was a gas that was originally viewed as an environmental pollutant. But research has shown this is an important function done naturally and organically by the body.
Nitric Oxide is a blood vessel dilator. When Nitric Oxide follows the air on the inhalation through the nose, the alveoli are expanded which means that a greater amount of blood can pass through the blood vessels and be oxidized. This CANNOT happen when breathing through the mouth; it CANNOT happen even when someone is hooked up to a respirator because nasal breathing is not part of the breathing process; AND it CANNOT happen even when Nitric Oxide is added to a gas bottle and we`re breathing through our mouth. It ONLY happens when air is inhaled through the nasal passages.
Nitric Oxide is also involved in the function of the nervous system. It also helps maintain, repair and defend every cell in the body. The positive effects of Nitric Oxide include:
- Blood Circulation (High Blood Pressure) - Helps Reduce Pain - Helps With Weight Loss - Increases Energy - Reduces Inflammation - Improves Digestion - Improve the Immune System - Aides in the Prevention Of Cancer - Helps The Brain
So, BREATHE . . . through your nose!
Sources 1) www.lifespa.com with John Douillard, March 2010: Enjoy Exercise Every Time!