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The wanderer above the sea of fog


We were always taught that when you practice a sport, especially during the cold months, it is better to breathe through the nostrils than through the mouth. This is true since the nostrils constitute a natural filter for protecting the body from bacteria and unwanted substances. Also the air is heated during the passage in the nasal cavities protecting the throat from diseases. This is an excerpt of the 6th chapter of the Science of Breath by Yogi Ramacharaka:

Nostril vs. mouth-breathing

One of the first lessons in the Yogi Science of Breath, is to learn how to breathe through the nostrils, and to overcome the common practice of mouth-breathing. The breathing mechanism of Man is so constructed that he may breathe either through the mouth or nasal tubes, but it is a matter of vital importance to him which method he follows, as one brings health and strength and the other disease and weakness. It should not be necessary to state to the student that the proper method of breathing is to take the breath through the nostrils, but alas! the ignorance among civilized people regarding this simple matter is astounding.

The organs of respiration have their only protective apparatus, filter, or dust-catcher, in the nostrils. When the breath is taken through the mouth, there is nothing from mouth to lungs to strain the air, or to catch the dust and other foreign matter in the air. From mouth to lungs the dirt or impure substance has a clear track, and the entire respiratory system is unprotected. And, moreover, such incorrect breathing admits cold air to the organs, thereby injuring them. Inflammation of the respiratory organs often results from the inhalation of cold air through the mouth. The man who breathes through the mouth at night, always awakens with a parched feeling in the mouth and a dryness in the throat.

On the other hand, the nostrils and nasal passages show evidence of the careful design of nature in this respect. The nostrils are two narrow, tortuous channels, containing numerous bristly hairs which serve the purpose of a filter or sieve to strain the air of its impurities, etc., which are expelled when the breath is exhaled. Not only do the nostrils serve this important purpose, but they also perform an important function in warming the air inhaled. The long narrow winding nostrils are filled with warm mucous membrane, which coming in contact with the inhaled air warms it so that it can do no damage to the delicate organs of the throat, or to the lungs.

The refining, filtering and straining apparatus of the nostrils renders the air fit to reach the delicate organs of the throat and the lungs, and the air is not fit to so reach these organs until it has passed through nature's refining process. The impurities which are stopped and retained by the sieves and mucous membrane of the nostrils, are thrown out again by the expelled breath, in exhalation, and in case they have accumulated too rapidly or have managed to escape through the sieves and have penetrated forbidden regions, nature protects us by producing a sneeze which violently ejects the intruder.

Another feature of mouth breathing is that the nasal passages, being thus comparatively unused, consequently fail to keep themselves clean and clear, and become clogged up and unclean, and are apt to contract local diseases. Like abandoned roads that soon become filled with weeds and rubbish, unused nostrils become filled with impurities and foul matter. One who habitually breathes through the nostrils is not likely to be troubled with clogged or stuffy nostrils, but for the benefit of those who have been more or less addicted to the unnatural mouth breathing, and who wish to acquire the natural and rational method, it may perhaps be well to add a few words regarding the way to keep their nostrils clean and free from impurities.

A favourite Oriental method is to snuff a little water up the nostrils allowing it to run down the passage into the throat, from thence it may be ejected through the mouth. Some Hindu yogis immerse the face in a bowl of water, and by a sort of suction draw in quite a quantity of water, but this latter method requires considerable practice, and the first mentioned method is equally efficacious, and much more easily performed.

Another good plan is to open the window and breathe freely, closing one nostril with the finger or thumb, sniffing up the air through the open nostril. Then repeat the process on the other nostril. Repeat several times, changing nostrils. This method will usually clear the nostrils of obstructions.

30 reasons why it is better to breathe through the nose

1. The nose warms the incoming air to 35° (95 degrees Fahrenheit) . This is the ideal temperature for the lungs.

2 . Breathing through the nose moisturizes the incoming air. An average person breathes 20,000 times in a day, while breathing through the nose, you add a quart of water to your body.

3 . Moisturized air produced with the nose breathing, helps the microscopic hairs covered with sticky mucus to stop bacteria, allergens and other impurities.

4 . The air in the nose stimulates the release of anti-bacterial molecules , thus helping to clean the air that will have to get to the lungs.

5 . The air in the nose stimulates the release of odiferous molecules , so that you can perceive smells and the quality of the air you breathe .

6 . Nose breathing sensitizes us which air is healthy and which is not.

7 . Due to the connection with the limbic system, the place of emotions , it can increase general awareness of one's feelings.

8 . Breathing through the nostrils activates the production of immunoglobulins to strengthen the immune system.

9 . Breathing through the nose lubricates the sinus membranes and keeps the nasal passages open.

10 . The normal breathing is through the nose. So it should be, even during sleep. Breathe through your mouth can cause the vibration of the soft palate, which is the cause of the characteristic sound and of snoring.

11 . The mouth breathing causes a drying of the mouth.

12 . Breathing through the nose helps oral health. When you have a dry mouth increases the acidity in the mouth thus promoting the caries and other local problems.

13 . Allows you to facilitate the production of nitric oxide, and sterilizes the air in the sinuses on the way to the lungs.

14 . Nitric oxide is facilitating many important functions. The sinuses produce nitric oxide (NO) which is a pollutant but harmful to bacteria in small doses. Nitric (not nitric) oxide is one of the very important chemical parts of sexual arousal. It vaso-dilates (engorgement) and plays a part in maintaining erection.

15 . Decreases the effect of free radicals.

16 . The nose provides the right amount of resistance for the incoming air, that is important in the regulation of proper breathing.

17 . With the reduced volume of inspired air is also reduced the amount of inhaled allergens.

18 . The slow breathing promotes a complete integration of the breathing process with other biological processes .

19 . Reduces the rapid loss of carbon dioxide required to release the oxygen from the blood to all the organs, muscles and cells.

20 . Reduces the possibility of hyperventilation, the primary cause of lack of oxygen in the body.

21. The nasal breathing stimulates the normal development of the face and promotes proper posture.

22. In children, breathing through the nose helps to form the sinuses by activating their growth with the movement of air. The sinuses do not start growing until about age 4.

23. Promotes a state of calm , relaxation and reduces anxiety .

24 . Enable proper blood circulation in the head and in the neck.

25 . Nose breathing activates movement at several head and neck joints.

26 . The body temperature may be influenced by the temperature of the exhaled air

27. Maintaining a keen sense of smell is very important to enjoy life , think of all the good smells of which we enjoy through our nose

28. The smell influences our behavior , our memories , and many functions of the nervous system.

29. Facilitates meditation and all its favorable implications .

30. Encourages artistic inspiration:

"We have a nose. The nose smells and choose. An artist is simply a kind of pig who search truffles. " Igor Stravinsky Fiodorovich


The article image: Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, also known as Wanderer Above the Mist is an oil painting composed in 1818 by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich