The breath grounds, connects, and heals the nervous system, which is why nose breathing is essential.
Did you know that right nostril breathing (RNB) has a very different and distinct effect on the nervous system compared to left nostril breathing (LNB)?
The right nostril is the energizing and heating component of the breath. It supports a sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system response (SNS) in the body. Conversely, the left nostril is the cooling component of the breath. It supports a parasympathetic “rest and digestion” nervous system (PNS) response in the body.
When we are in a state of balance and good health, the dominant nostril that we breathe through changes every 90-120 minutes, this is known as our nasal cycle. This cycle is under the control of our Autonomic Nervous system. It regulates the balancing of the PNS and SNS in the body. When we are out of balance, this nasal rhythm becomes out of balance, which has adverse effects on our mental, physical and emotional health and well-being.
Why is nose breathing essential?
Nose breathing is the correct and most optimal way to breathe for many reasons. Most importantly, the nasal passages moisten the air as it enters. The fine hairs filter the air to remove unwanted bacteria, dust, and foreign particles. Then the air is warmed before it reaches the lungs.
Conversely, mouth breathing results in over-breathing. It elevates blood pressure, heart rate, worsens asthma, allergies, sleep apnea, and deprives the heart, brain, and other organs of optimal oxygenation.
When breathing through our right nostril, generalized sympathetic nervous system tonus is experienced, including:
- right lung dominance
- increased heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- increased respiration rate
- an activated state
- increased body temperature
- increased locomotor activity
- increased cortisol (stress hormone)
- increased endorphins
- reduces prolactic secretion (a critical regulator of the immune system)
When breathing through our left nostril, generalized parasympathetic nervous system tonus is experienced, including:
- left lung dominance
- decreased heart rate
- decreased blood pressure
- decreased respiration rate
- a more passive, rested state
- decreased body temperature
- increased locomotor activity
- a decrease in cortisol (stress hormone)
- reduced endorphins
- increased prolactic secretion (a critical regulator of the immune system)
There are so many reasons to practice conscious breathing. Alternate Nostril Breathing is one of the best therapeutic practices for health. Try it yourself, follow along with this video.
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About the Author: Carrie and Nicole are certified IAYT SomaYoga Therapists and Somatics Educators who have specialized in working with clients in pain for well over 10 years. Their mission is to teach you revolutionary techniques to tap into your body’s innate intelligence and its ability to heal.
You could also call them “pain geeks” because they are extremely passionate and inquisitive about all things related to what causes people pain. To understand the true mind-body connection and to reset the nervous system in powerful and simple ways.
They specialize in skillfully combining the tools of Somatics, SomaYoga, Anatomy, Functional Movement Training, Mind Study and Yogic Philosophy to bring about more joy and freedom in the lives of those they work with. They teach to professionals and individuals sharing their Method.