If you go into the wild and look into the mouths of the animals you'd find they'd have perfectly straight teeth. Or, instead of gazing into the traps of wildlife, ask yourself: What’s the percentage of people you know who’ve had corrective dental work versus those who haven’t? Likely the majority the former, yes? Journalist James Nestor wanted to understand this and discovered something quite profound: the necessity of breathing through your nose.
Mr. Nestor narrates in his book, Breath, that his research started with a conversation he had with a biological anthropologist. Researchers were looking at the changes in the human face. They began to ask why evolutionary recent humans have crooked teeth? We tend to believe that it’s genetics. We have wonky teeth because we’re born with them. But that doesn’t make any sense. Natural selection wouldn’t endow us with such a degenerative trait.
If you look at the human skeleton from a hundred thousand years ago, Mr. Nestor continues, the jaws all present straight teeth. Anthropologists explain that more recently we started eating softer food. We've needed to less engage the muscles of our mouths. Without the stress of chewing, our mouths have grown smaller, much like your bones and muscles waste when you don't use them. Our teeth no longer have the space they need to grow.
With a smaller mouth, the arch of your upper palate extends higher into your sinuses. This inhibits nasal breathing. This partly explains why we snore, or have sleep apnea. James Nestor explains that the inability to nasal breath correlates with ADHD, with cognitive abilities, and so on. Simply, having a mouth that is too small reduces the ability to breathe through our nose, which leads to other issues.
Try focused nasal breathing. Finish this article and take a minute inhaling and exhaling through you nose. At first this might be difficult, more so in this dry, winter climate. After reading Breath, I’ve started nasal breathing during all aerobic base training - easy running, easy cycling. I find it also helps regulate my intensity level. If I can nasal breathe, I’m building my aerobic system. Marisol also starts all of her group fitness classes with nasal breathing. It's a great way to prepare the body for what's to come, and serves as a reminder of how to properly breathe through one's nose during exercise.
If you're still now sure where to start, here's a quick video from Patrick McKeown, a world-renowned author and breathing practitioner on simple breathing techniques to improve your performance during physical exercise.
Nasal breathing begets nasal breathing. When you breathe through your nose, you tone the tissues and muscles in your nasal airway to stay open. Much like when you exercise, overtime you tone your muscles. You begin to feel better, you begin to be more confident. You'll live longer. No subscription required. No fees. Just nasal breathe.
Steven Snell is co-owner of Haysboro Fit. He's a StrongFirst Kettlebell Certified Trainer and CanFit Pro Certified Personal Trainer and Older Adult Specialist. Click HERE to learn more about Steven and stay up to date by following Haysboro Fit on Instagram and Facebook.