When I was in elementary school one of the things that changed my life was a talent I possessed. I was fast and I could run. I had speed and endurance. Looking back, being fast had a tremendous impact on my life. I can remember as a kid everyone wanted me to be on their team because I was the fastest kid around. I became popular, people liked me and this began to build confidence in other parts of my life.
As time went on, running wasn’t as big a deal anymore, but I can remember it was the first thing that I was really good at. It’s funny, but people used to ask me what my secret to running was, and for a long time I didn’t want to share it with anyone! It was like I had figured out something that most people didn’t and I remember I liked it. That secret was to shut my mouth.
From a young age I remember very vividly that my lung capacity was much stronger because I did all my breathing through my nose. When you run, it is so easy to start gasping for air and take deep breaths by the mouth. But breathing by the mouth actually creates more stress. When you breathe by the mouth, less oxygen will get to the muscles. The thing is, breathing from the nose isn’t just for running, it’s also for day-to-day things. Patrick McKeown, the author of “Oxygen Advantage”, talks about how you can actually lose weight, improve sleep, focus, and concentration all by breathing through your nose. There is also research showing that simply improving breathing practices can eliminate asthma symptoms. This is actually how Patrick got into this. He suffered from chronic asthma and learned to cure his asthma by breathing through the nose.
Here’s a simple exercise to see how effective you really are. Sit down in a resting position and count how often you breathe in one minute. Each breath consists of the inhalation and exhalation. Try not to force it or fake it. If you breathe more than 10 times per minute, there is a problem. If your breathing is too excessive, it is a mild form of hyperventilating and can lead to all sorts of health problems, including anxiety, higher heart rate, bloating & burping, digestive difficulty and more. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose because you are chronically congested, talk to us about how acupuncture can help open up the nasal pathway. We also have Chinese herbs that can be taken if you are not a fan of needles. There are also some breathing exercises that you can do to help unblock the nose.
So whether you are thinking of improving your running time, or just looking to improve your general health, close your mouth and see what happens!
Here are 3 tips you can do to start improving your daily breathing:
1. Calm down your breathing. Stop taking big breaths, or if you do, keep them slow. Close your mouth and try to do all of your breathing through the nose – IN AND OUT! Many practices will say to breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth. Try to do it all with your nose.
2. Try walking quickly outside and only breathing through the nose. This should be challenging. If it isn’t, try running.
3. Put a piece of tape to cover your mouth while you sleep. This will force you to breathe through the nose. We use something called LipSeal – a special type of tape on certain nights to ensure we are not mouth breathing. We look funny, but it works:)