breathe in, breathe out
December 13, 2005 9:55 AM   Subscribe

So, one five hour surgery later, I can finally breathe properly out of my nose after 25 years of growing up, exercising, and playing sports taking breath mostly through my mouth. I want to learn to use this new function properly.

I'm afraid my body is well trained in mouth-breathing. Even though I've already noticed improvements in sleeping, I want to encourage proper breathing during sports (I play soccer) and even everyday life.

I'm looking for articles that teach techniques and methods for learning to breathe correctly through the nose, to train myself to do so.

I've googled - most of what I've found has been generic advice that it should be done - not procedures/techniques/ideas on how to do so. I once read an article in a magazine at a gym that described how a guy was teaching basketball players to breathe through their nose by doing various treadmill running-then-sprinting exercises with a covered mouth and proceded to tell step by step how it was done. That's sort of what I'm looking for. Thanks for your help. I love askme.
posted by striker to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
a good yoga class will have a pranayama (breath control) practice component, which can help you learn breathing techniques. you might try googling pranayama, but you're probably better off finding someone who can demonstrate techniques and watch you try them.
posted by judith at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2005

Hmmm...I'm not sure it's a good idea to try to change the way you breath during exercise -- the key is to get enough oxygen, right? I think that I usually breathe through my mouth when I'm working out, and I vaguely recall a gym teacher debunking the idea that breathing through your nose while exercising is better. I think that if you just relax, the right way of breathing will come to you.
posted by footnote at 10:16 AM on December 13, 2005

When swimming, be sure to breathe out a tiny bit through your nose right as you dive down under the surface. This keeps the water from shooting up there.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:18 AM on December 13, 2005

Tape your mouth shut. (and excersize somewhere private) You should get used to nose-breathing soon enough. Keep in mind that you can't get as much air through your nose as you can your mouth. Any kind of heavy excertion is going to require mouth breathing anyway.
posted by delmoi at 10:18 AM on December 13, 2005

I always try to maintain nose breathing while I run (it keeps me from swallowing air). About two to three miles in, I have to switch to mouth breathing.

As delmoi said, mouth breathing during exercise is not really a problem that needs fixing. (I assume that you aren't running around with you mouth fully opened or something weird like that.)
posted by oddman at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2005

Andrew Weil has a nice set of audio disks dedicated to learning how to breathe restfully. If I were you, I would start by learning how to breathe while in repose and then work my way up to breathing while engaging in intense activity.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:36 AM on December 13, 2005


Hatha yoga is generally less intense, which will let you focus more on your pranayama (breath technique).
posted by mkultra at 10:45 AM on December 13, 2005

And congrats!
posted by mkultra at 10:46 AM on December 13, 2005

One common pranayama exercise is this: Take your right hand and fold over your middle two fingers. Place your extended index finger next to your right nostril, and lay the extended pinkie up against your left nostril. Press your pinkie against your left nostril so that it's shut, then inhale fully and slowly through your right nostril. Hold the breath for an instant, then switch nostrils -- use your index finger to shut your right nostril and breath out through your left nostril. LEAVE YOUR FINGERS WHERE THEY ARE and breathe in this time through your still-open left nostril, hold, switch fingers, exhale through right; inhale through still-open right, hold, switch fingers, exhale through left; etc. for as long as you want.

For me, it makes me very aware of both sides of my nose and breath pathways and such.

It was, however, often very difficult to do during cold season in cold climates....
posted by occhiblu at 10:50 AM on December 13, 2005

out of curiosity, what was the surgery? Was it nasal polyps? I'm curious because I've always had trouble breathing through one side of my nose and when my wisdom teeth got removed, they pointed out nasal polyps on my Xrays and said I might think about having them removed. Is it worth it?
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:05 AM on December 13, 2005

I guess you had a deviated septum operation. I suggest you learn buteyko breathing. You will learn to breath through your nose as well as learn to breath using your diaphragm, while moving towards making breathing comfortable and controleld even during exercise.
posted by blueyellow at 11:45 AM on December 13, 2005

Congrats...I'm about to (this week) speak to my doctor about getting the same done. I've spent all my life breaking in and out through both at the same time, because my nasal passages as so small that it takes conscious effort to get enough air through them to not feel oxygen-starved.

Anything you can tell us about the surgery would be most helpful to me.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:57 AM on December 13, 2005

Duct-tape is the answer until you adapt
posted by A189Nut at 12:32 PM on December 13, 2005

Hold water in your mouth?

More easily hidden than tape :)
posted by o2b at 12:56 PM on December 13, 2005

For those that are curious, I was born with cleft lip and palette, and my nose formed slightly off. The surgery involved shaving down my turbinates, fixing a severly deviated septum, realigning the bones/cartilage of my nose, and realigning the muscles of my upper lip which were still a little off after my surgeries when born.

Thanks for your suggestions so far, I'm going through them and will surely find them very useful.
posted by striker at 2:25 PM on December 13, 2005

Off topic a bit, but make sure you're belly-breathing -- that is, expanding your belly (NOT your chest!!) when inhaling.

It feels weird at first, but you'll get more air and avoid side-cramps while exercising. It helps for singing, too.
posted by LordSludge at 2:28 PM on December 13, 2005

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