Sometimes it seems like modern science is just starting to catch up with the ancient knowledge of Yoga. Take, for example, the infinitely subtle investigations into breathing techniques that Yogis have been making over thousands of years. One of the essential results of their research is that breathing through the nose is the single most beneficial thing you can do for your body and mind. Apart from having a calming effect on the nervous system and allowing the mind to quiet and have greater focus, nose breathing creates nitric oxide in the respiratory system. This gas is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. It also improves the lungs ability to absorb oxygen, allowing us to go deeper into our practice without exhaustion.
The importance of these effects in our current times is obvious…
Ujjayi breathing, where a gentle humming or ‘ocean’ sound is produced while inhaling and exhaling, is another advance in breath science that Yogis discovered hundreds of years ago. It took Western scientists until 2002, however, to discover that this subtle technique actually increases the amount of nitric oxide produced by the body during breathing. This means that simply by using Ujjayi nostril breathing during our Hatha yoga practice literally makes us healthier while simultaneously increasing the powers of our immune system.
As you move through your day, notice yourself and how you’re breathing. Listen closely to the sound of your own inhales and exhales and consider that the sweet, quiet flow of the breath through your nose is the sound of health, strength, and calm. Now isn’t that inspiring?