Both the ancient teachings of yoga and modern-day science agree that there are physical, emotional and mental health benefits from controlled breathing through the nose.
So why does controlled breathing induce relaxation?
Physiologically, your emotions have a direct effect on your body. For example, when you are happy, the corners of your mouth automatically turn upwards. When you feel calm, rested and safe, your breathing automatically slows down and becomes deeper. In these pleasant states, your body is under the parasympathetic nervous system which makes you feel relaxed.
In the same way, when you feel scared or uncomfortable, tense or in pain, your breathing becomes quicker and shallow. Your sympathetic nervous system is now in control and triggers your body’s reaction to stress – for example, increasing the production of adrenalin.
Slowing down your breath sends messages to your brain that all is calm and well in your body.
So what are the benefits of breathing through your nose?
Breathing through your nose adds 50 per cent more air resistance than breathing through your mouth. This gives your heart and lungs an extra workout and increases the vacuum in your lungs, which enables you to inhale 20% more oxygen than you would by breathing through your mouth.
Breathing through the nose relaxes the blood vessels in your respiratory tract allowing more oxygen to pass in your blood, which energises your body and boosts brain function.
By engaging both of these breathing techniques, you will induce a deep level of relaxation by increasing the blood flow around your body, and calm and slow your nervous system.