Yes, you heard that correctly.
I happened upon a talk by Anders Olsson, founder of The Conscious Breathing Retraining Program a while back, where he discussed the importance of breathing through your nose. We are bombarded by yoga, meditation, and the exercise community to just breathe, but Anders claims what matters is HOW we breathe. Yoga has a ton of breathing techniques known as Pranayama which are all great, but not everyone wants to dedicate themselves to a formal breathing practice.
In our modern society, many of us have poor breathing habits. Our lives affect the way we breathe, but the way we breathe affects our life as well. In this regard, we have the power to change our life through our breathing habits.
Do you have poor breathing habits? Here are some examples: breathing through your mouth, frequent sighing, throat clearing when stressed, snoring, holding your breath, breathing fast and shallowly.
The side effects of low quality breathing include a plethora of issues: sleep disturbances (sleep apnea, snoring, nightmares, night terrors), anxiety, sinus problems, throat infections. fatigue, weight issues, high blood pressure, and on and on.
When we breath evenly through our nose (with the mouth shut), we activate the calming side of the nervous system that tells our body it can relax. On the other hand, when we breathe through our mouth, we over breathe (or hyperventilate), lowering CO2 levels in the body, causing the body to go into "fight or flight" mode. This tells our body, "Don't relax! We're preparing for battle!"
So, you may then ask, how do we consciously breathe through the nose? One of the methods is to actually tape the mouth shut, especially when you sleep. Many of us breathe through the mouth during sleep, causing all sorts of sleep disturbances. I have had an ongoing issue with night terrors, so I decided to try taping my mouth shut during sleep. I was amazed to find that it almost completely stopped the night terrors immediately. By forcing myself to breathe through my nose, I was signaling my body to relax, preventing the night terror.
If you have sleep apnea or any serious health issues, please consult your doctor or wellness professional before trying mouth tape during sleep. This is the tape that I use:
If you have a clogged nose, there are methods to work on clearing nasal passages to make nose breathing easier, such as humming and using a neti pot. Anders Olsson discusses a few tips here: https://www.consciousbreathing.com/articles/how-to-unblock-a-stuffy-nose/
Ironically a chronically clogged nose is frequently caused by mouth breathing habits, leading to increased mouth breathing, allowing the nose to remain clogged. So, if you successfully retrain yourself to breathe through the nose, you will also be eliminating the chronically clogged nose.
If the idea of taping your mouth sounds less than appealing, you can try it during the day while awake to get used to it. Anders also offers a device called the Relaxator which can also help retrain breathing. I haven't tried it, but it looks like it could helpful for those learning to consciously breathe.