Are you a nose or mouth breather? 

Having become even more aware of my breathing patterns (thanks to a fabulous book called “Breath” by James Nestor), I’ve noticed that I often still breathe through my mouth. With a history of asthma it’s not really that surprising. However, when I started my regular yoga practice more than 20 years ago, I switched to conscious nasal breathing in class and as a result my asthma disappeared altogether.

Knowing the benefits of nasal breathing on our physical and mental wellbeing, I’ve set an intention to become more mindful around my breathing patterns throughout the day and also started taping my mouth at night. I’m being gentle and kind with myself, knowing that I’m doing the best I can.

One of the main benefits of noise breathing is that the sinuses release a huge boost of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays an essential role in increasing circulation and delivering oxygen into cells. Immune function, weight, circulation, and mood can all be heavily influenced by the amount of nitric oxide in the body.

I’m looking forward to enjoying the benefits of this change and would love to know if this resonates with you.

Nasal breathing alone can boost nitric oxide, six fold, which is one of the reasons we can absorb about 18% more oxygen, than by just breathing through the mouth.

Yoga With Gabrielle - benefits of nose breathing

Did you know that nasal passages open and close like flowers throughout the day and night? Every 30 minutes to 4 hours the breath is moving from left to right. You can see which side is dominate by bringing your nose to the edge of a mobile device (screen off and in a hormonal position) and exhaling slowly through the nose, across the screen. You will see the moisture imprint will be greater on the dominant side.

The right and left nasal cavities also work at controlling temperature and BP and feeding the brain chemicals to alter our moods, emotions and sleep states. When the right nostril is dominant, circulation speeds up and the body gets hotter, 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, putting the body in a more elevated state of alertness and readiness. Breathing through the right nostril will also direct more blood to the opposite hemisphere of the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with logical decision-making and language.

Inhaling through the left nostril has the opposite affect as it works as a kind of braking system to the right nostril’s accelerator. The left nostril is more deeply connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest response that lowers temperature and blood pressure, cools the body and reduces anxiety. Left nostril breathing shifts the blood flow to the right side of the prefrontal cortex, the area that plays a role in our creative thoughts, emotions, formation of mental abstraction and negative emotions.


“To breathe is to absorb ourselves in whatever surrounds us, to take in little bits of life, understand them, and give pieces of ourselves back out. Respiration is, and its core, reciprocation.” ~ James Nestor