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The Best Way To Exhale

Breathing properly can help reduce inflammation caused by overwhelming stress. A common question I receive is “are you supposed to exhale through your nose or your mouth?” And this question always makes me smile because it’s truly an advanced question to ask as the inner workings of the mind body breath connection is quite complex.

The truth is that the ultimate goal for proper breathing is to inhale and exhale through your nose. However, to truly receive the full benefits from nostril breathing, it may be necessary to begin your practice by exhaling through your mouth.

Psychology studies have shown that when a person is making peace with an event or situation, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth has helped to speed the process of acceptance, which has ultimately led the person into a state of conscious peace and relaxation. And further studies have shown that after this process of acceptance is realized the person is able to transition into a full nostril breathing practice with ease and comfort.

It is however important to understand that when a person gets comfortable inhaling and/or exhaling through their mouth, they may make a constant practice of it. And, constant mouth breathing can deplete saliva, drying out the mouth. And although this may seem insignificant, over time it can create an imbalance response where oral bacteria builds up causing inflammation that can lead to tooth decay and digestive issues.

Nostril breathing is often taught in yoga classes and recommended by medical professionals because our nose acts as a natural humidifier. Upon inhalation, our nostrils warm the air to body temperature making it easier for the lungs to function. We also have sensory nerve endings found within our nostrils that become stimulated during the breathing process. Evidence suggests that the left nostril connects with the parasympathetic nervous system, while the right nostril connects to the sympathetic nervous system allowing stimulation during inhalation and relaxation during exhalation. And finally, our nostrils filter the air by removing dust and debris before it enters the lungs.

The next time you are practicing yoga, or any other form of mindfulness practice and you pause to wonder if you’re breathing correctly, pat yourself on the back because you truly began a beautiful journey into self-awareness. Allow yourself to be aware of your body without judgment. Notice how you are feeling. When you find the stillness of the moment you will be able to gain great insight into what you need. From there you can adjust your breathing as you see fit when you’re ready.


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