James Nestor

Breath

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    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    There are dozens of alternate nostril breathing techniques. I’ve started with the most basic. It involves placing an index finger over the left nostril and then inhaling and exhaling only through the right. I did this two dozen times after each meal today, to heat up my body and aid my digestion. Before meals, and any other time I wanted to relax, I’d switch sides, repeating the same exercise with my left nostril open. To gain focus and balance the body and mind, I followed a technique called surya bheda pranayama, which involves taking one breath into the right nostril, then exhaling through the left for several rounds.
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    There’s a yoga practice dedicated to manipulating the body’s functions with forced breathing through the nostrils. It’s called nadi shodhana—in Sanskrit, nadi means “channel” and shodhana means “purification”—or, more commonly, alternate nostril breathing.
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    Our bodies operate most efficiently in a state of balance, pivoting between action and relaxation, daydreaming and reasoned thought. This balance is influenced by the nasal cycle, and may even be controlled by it. It’s a balance that can also be gamed.
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    Inhaling through the left nostril has the opposite effect: it works as a kind of brake system to the right nostril’s accelerator. The left nostril is more deeply connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest-and-relax side that lowers temperature and blood pressure, cools the body, and reduces anxiety. Left-nostril breathing shifts blood flow to the opposite side of the prefrontal cortex, the right area that plays a role in creative thought, emotions, formation of mental abstractions, and negative emotions.
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    The right nostril is a gas pedal. When you’re inhaling primarily through this channel, circulation speeds up, your body gets hotter, and cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate all increase. This happens because breathing through the right side of the nose activates the sympathetic nervous system, the “fight or flight” mechanism that puts the body in a more elevated state of alertness and readiness
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    What researchers eventually managed to confirm was that nasal erectile tissue mirrored states of health. It would become inflamed during sickness or other states of imbalance. If the nose became infected, the nasal cycle became more pronounced and switched back and forth quickly. The right and left nasal cavities also worked like an HVAC system, controlling temperature and blood pressure and feeding the brain chemicals to alter our moods, emotions, and sleep states.
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    o breathe is to absorb ourselves in what surrounds us, to take in little bits of life, understand them, and give pieces of ourselves back out. Respiration is, at its core, reciprocation.
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    The same thing happened with other patients—both adults and children—who’d regained the ability to breathe properly: their slack-jawed and narrowed faces morphed back into a more natural configuration. They saw their high blood pressure drop, depression abate, headaches disappear.
    Harvold’s monkeys recovered, too. After two years of forced mouthbreathing, he removed the silicone plugs. Slowly, surely, the animals relearned how to breathe through their noses. And slowly, surely, their faces and airways remodeled: jaws moved forward and facial structure and airways morphed back into their wide and natural state.
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    And here we are. Ninety percent of children have acquired some degree of deformity in their mouths and noses. Forty-five percent of adults snore occasionally, and a quarter of the population snores constantly. Twenty-five percent of American adults over 30 choke on themselves because of sleep apnea; and an estimated 80 percent of moderate or severe cases are undiagnosed. Meanwhile, the majority of the population suffers from some form of breathing difficulty or resistance.
    Inéshas quoted3 months ago
    Mayo Clinic which found that chronic insomnia, long assumed to be a psychological problem, is often a breathing problem. The millions of Americans who have a chronic insomnia disorder and who are, right now, like me, staring out bedroom windows, or at TVs, phones, or ceilings, can’t sleep because they can’t breathe.
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