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The Anatomy of Efficient Breathing

In my review of Breath by James Nestor, I focused on what I believe is the the book's most important lesson - slow resonant breathing heals. This type of breathing has been used in prayer and contemplation practices across cultures. It works to create balance in our systems.

For a deeper understanding of the anatomy of breath, it's also important to understand the function of nasal breathing. Optimal breathing occurs when we breathe through the nostrils. It is healthier and more efficient than breathing through the mouth.

The practice of alternate nostril breathing activates both nostrils and balances the body. I encourage you to try it once you've read the text under the breath practice video. Learn about the anatomy of efficient breathing using the separate sides of the nose.

Alternate Nostril Breath Practice

Author, James Nestor breaks down the separate and necessary roles our nostrils play in in the breathing process.

Right Nostril

The right nostril is the activator. Breath inhaled through the right nostril, increases circulation, heats the body , and raises cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. Right nostril breathing stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, and puts us in a state of readiness. It feeds more blood to the left side of the brain, especially to the prefrontal cortex and assists with logical decisions, language, and computing.

Left Nostril

The left nostril serves as a brake. It is connected primarily to the parasympathetic nervous system. This systems relaxes the body, lowers temperature and blood pressure, cools, and reduces anxiety.

From left nostril breathing, blood flows to the right side of the prefrontal cortex. This side supports creative thought, emotions, formation of mental abstractions, and negative emotions.

James Nestor writes: Both sides work together to "heat, clean, slow, and pressurize air so that the lungs can extract more oxygen with each breath".

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