Summary: We learn about nose breathing and its benefits to our nervous system, our breathing, and our tissues and cells. And we experience CONSCIOUS or 3-4-3 BREATHING to relax the stress response and especially when falling to sleep.
- [00:00] Introduction
- [00:24] Nose breathing is optimal
- [01:10] The nose is spiral-shaped inside
- [02:01] The nose warms the air
- [03:14] The nose moistens the air.
- [04:46] Nitric oxide in our nasal passages opens our breathing tubes and blood vessels.
- [05:56] The nose filters the air.
- [08:10] The Power of Your Breath by Anders Olsson
- [10:10] How to breathe
- [11:55] Most of us are overbreathing
- [12:54] Reduce allergies with nose breathing
- [13:46] How to do CONSCIOUS or 3-4-3 BREATHING
- [15:25] CONSCIOUS BREATHING or 3-4-3 BREATHING
- [17:38] Recap
- [19:57] Less Stress/More Comfort online course
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[00:00] Hello, Friends! And welcome to Move Into Coherence. I’m your host Pamela Stokes. In today’s episode we learn about the benefits of nose breathing. We’ll also experience CONSCIOUS BREATHING or 3-4-3 BREATHING. So let’s begin.
[00:24] Hello, friends. Pamela here. Today I’m going to be talking about breathing and very specifically using the nose, and all the reasons why it’s beneficial, and how it can really help us to be our healthiest self. So let’s get into it. You may think that because we have a mouth, we can breathe through our mouth optimally, but we’re actually designed to breathe through our nose. And there are many reasons for that.
[01:10] The nose is spiral-shaped inside.
The first reason is the nose has a special design inside of it which is spiral-shaped. When we breathe air through our nose, it goes through these spirals and it is directed down into the lungs. It also softens the air coming into the lungs by passing through these spiral passageways. So that’s one reason why breathing through the nose is helpful, because that’s where we want the oxygen to go—down into the lungs, and to have it land gently is nice for the nervous system to know everything’s OK.
[02:06] The nose warms the air.
The second reason for nose breathing as being better than mouth breathing is that it warms the air. When the air comes through the nasal passages it is warmed, and so when it enters the lungs it’s not frightening or alarming to the lungs. Breathing through the nose allows it time to move and be warmed up by the blood vessels that are on the very surface of the nasal passages. These are the capillaries, the very tiniest blood vessels. They’re very close to the surface and the warmth of the blood there makes it so that when the air passes through, it’s warmed up before it reaches the lungs. So giving our lungs warm air is a better message than giving them cold air.
[03:14] The nose moistens the air.
Another reason for breathing through the nose that’s helpful is because it moistens the air. Our nasal passages are lined with mucus. that’s what we call a mucous membrane, and this mucus is there to trap particles of dust and pollen and viruses. And as the air passes through the nasal passages and passes by this mucus membrane, it is moistened. This moistened air is a nice thing for the lungs to receive and again there’s no alert if the air is moist. If the air comes in dry, that sends a message to our nervous system that there’s an issue, there’s a problem. So having the air moistened by breathing through the nose you will send a message of “all as well” to the nervous system.
[04:26] Nitric oxide in our nasal passages opens our breathing tubes and blood vessels.
Another reason why nose breathing is advantageous is that when the air passes through the nasal passages, it mixes with a molecule there called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has the benefit of causing dilation. It’s a vasodilator, and what that means is all of the breathing tubes–your trachea and your bronchi and the little tiny ones inside, the bronchioles, all become expanded when the air is mixed with nitric oxide. Expanded tubes means more air can easily pass through and it sends a message to the nervous system that everything is OK when they’re expanded. The other thing that the nitric oxide does is it dilates or expands the size of our blood vessels. Expansion is a good thing because it allows the blood to flow easily through the vessels. So again another reason for nose breathing and how it mixes with this nitric oxide and causes the dilation of the tubes, the breathing tubes, as well as the blood vessels.
[05:56] The nose filters the air.
Another reason for nose breathing is that it filters the air. When we pass through the nose. there are little cilia inside the nasal passages, little hairlike projections there, and these can trap particles of dust and pollen and viruses. So breathing through the nose allows the air to be filtered before it gets into the lungs. Not only breathing in through the nose but also out through the nose is ideal. Breathing out through the nose causes the air to slow down because the passageway is much more narrow, and this slowing down allows for the oxygen in your blood to actually be released into the cells, into the tissues and cells, by slowing down through the nasal passages as you exhale. What is happening is we are building up carbon dioxide. Now we learn when we’re in school that carbon dioxide is a waste product, which is true. However, there are some very important benefits to having enough carbon dioxide, and one of those is the exchange of oxygen into the cells. If the carbon dioxide isn’t at the right level, the oxygen won’t actually be able to be exchanged, and so our cells and tissues won’t get the oxygen that they require. This is a signal to the nervous system that there is a big problem. When we have too much oxygen, we are overbreathing.
[08:10] The Power of Your Breath, by Anders Olsson
I will put a link in the show notes about the book that I’m getting this information from. It’s called The Power of Your Breath and it’s very interesting. There’s been a lot of research that he cites, and he’s also done some of his own, the author Anders Olsson. So this part about the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange is very important for our nervous system to know all is well. And in his opinion, and I would agree with this, most people are overbreathing. And what that means is we are taking in more oxygen than is actually going to the cells. The way that we get the oxygen to get into the cells is to build up carbon dioxide by having it slowly go through the nose, by slowing down the breath so that we are in a more calm state, in that parasympathetic state of rest, digest, and repair. This allows for the carbon dioxide to be exchanged with the oxygen so that the carbon dioxide will then leave the body. Carbon dioxide, yes, it is a waste product, but it also has a very important function, which is that it is anti-viral, and it is also one of these vasodilators, which means that it expands the blood vessels so that blood flows more easily.
[10:10] How to breathe
All of these things together indicate good breathing technique, and if we are conscious more frequently about how we’re breathing, making it purposely going through our nose, in an out, slowing down our breath, and also having a quieter breath. That is also helpful to the nervous system to know everything’s OK. When we breathe through the nose and it comes through the nasal passages, it’s spiraled down and it goes into the deep parts of the lungs. The way that our lungs are designed is that most of the alveoli, which are tiny sacs to receive air, most of them are in the bottom part of the lungs. And there are more capillaries there, which are these very tiny blood vessels, so that when the air comes in to the low parts of the lungs, the blood can receive that oxygen. The alveoli mostly are there in the bottom parts of the lungs as well the back parts of the lungs. So by breathing through the nose, we are causing the air to go down to the lower parts of the lungs, which is where most of the oxygen can become exchanged.
[11:55] Most of us are overbreathing.
So this idea of overbreathing comes from us breathing too high up in the lungs. Keeping it up here in the top parts of the lungs, shallow breathing, will, when we breathe through the mouth or the nose, but shallowly, just using the top parts of the lungs, actually sends a signal to the nervous system that there’s a problem. Because if you look at someone who’s anxious and having a panic attack, what they will be doing is breathing up in the top parts of their lungs and maybe quickly, and maybe with their mouth too. So all of those things indicate something is not right and so we go into a stress response. All of these things together point to the fact that we should be breathing through our nose as frequently as we can.
[12:53] Reduce allergies with nose breathing
And I understand that if you have chronic allergies, it’s hard to get a breath through, but the more we practice breathing through the nose, the more the carbon dioxide, as well as the nitric oxide, will dilate the tissues, dilate those nasal passages. We will filter out these allergens. We will turn off the stress response which is what’s causing the inflammation and the allergies in the first place, because it thinks it’s an invader. So all of these things together can contribute to clearing the sinuses and allowing more air to pass through.
[13:46] Intro to CONSCIOUS or 3-4-3 BREATHING
Today’s activity is a breathing one and we’re going to be using the nose. It’s something called CONSCIOUS BREATHING. I have it in my MINDFUL MOTION program, and I like to call it 3-4-3 just so it’s easy to remember. It’s ideal if we can breathe like this as often as possible, so it’s also a bit of an awareness piece or consciousness piece that if you are aware of your breath you can slow it down and use this form, this 3-4-3 form, more often. It will help to increase the carbon dioxide, increase the nitric oxide, and you’ll have all the benefits of the stress response being tamped down and oxygenating your cells and tissues more efficiently. I like to use this breath especially as I’m falling to sleep. So I get myself all ready; get down in my bed; get myself in my little sleeping position; and then I’ll just practice this CONSCIOUS BREATHING. And before I know it, it’s morning and I haven’t had any trouble falling to sleep. So this is a really great practice as you’re falling to sleep, but it can be used any time of day.
[15:25] CONSCIOUS BREATHING or 3-4-3 BREATHING
So let’s go ahead and try CONSCIOUS BREATHING or 3-4-3 BREATHING together. Please join in. We’re going to be breathing exclusively through the nose in a pattern of three counts for the inhale, four counts for the exhale, and then a pause for three. That’s why it’s called 3-4-3 BREATHING. This all happens through the nose. So let’s try it together. Please join in. And we will be doing this for about 5 cycles, so here we go. Breathing in 1-2-3; exhale 1-2-3-4, and pause 1-2-3. Inhale 1-2-3, exhale 1-2-3-4, and pause 2-3. Inhale 1-2-3, exhale 1-2-3-4, and pause 2-3. Inhale 1-2-3, exhale 1-2-3-4, and pause 2-3. Inhale 1-2-3, exhale 1-2-3-4, and pause 2-3. And then just come into regular breathing and notice how you feel. You may notice that you’re feeling a little more settled. You may notice that you’re breathing a little more easily through the nose. All of these things are benefits that you can feel usually pretty quickly.
So this is what I have for you today. We have talked about nose breathing and why it’s important for our nervous system and our breathing and for our tissues and cells. It is the way we are designed to breathe and there are many benefits. We talked about how it warms the air and moistens the air and filters the air, but it is also important because of this mixing with nitric oxide, which expands the tubes and the blood vessels. It directs the air to the bottom parts of the lungs, which is where we have more ability to take up oxygen and make that exchange. It also slows down the air leaving the lungs which causes a buildup of carbon dioxide, also expands blood vessels. And it allows for the exchange of oxygen at the cellular level so the cells can actually receive the oxygen, which is what they need to function. I thank you so much for joining me today. I am so pleased with how many people are starting to listen and watch the show. I really appreciate that. Thank you so much for being one of those people. Spread the word. Let people know that this is available for them. There’s no cost. And I think this information for me has been life-changing to remember our body is designed to do these things and sometimes we get in the way. So here’s to all of us for making some changes and receiving the benefits, and ultimately having optimal wellbeing in our mind and body and emotions.
[19:57] Less Stress/More Comfort online course
I do have a course online called Less Stress/More Comfort and I’d like to invite you to check it out. My website is MoveIntoResilience.com, and you can find out the information there. It includes a lot of the things that we are doing here on this show, and there are videos to watch, PDFs to read, audios to listen to, and also a private one-to-one session with me. So if you’re interested in that, it is available.
[20:40] Thank you for joining me today. Send yourself some appreciation for doing so. This has been Move Into Coherence. I’m Pamela Stokes. Take it easy!