Taking the strain out of speaking and singing
March 25, 2021
Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth can have a significant impact not only on catching covid or transmitting it, but on how your body would cope with the infection.
Most of us are aware that the little hairs inside your nose filter out airborne particles, including germs, and stop them getting inside you. That would be reason enough by itself to nose breathe, but there’s much more.
Your nose produces a gas, nitric oxide, which has known antiviral properties - in fact there are trials under way for using it to treat covid infections - so that’s another line of defence nose breathing gives you.
Your nose also traps the moisture in the air. That means that compared with breathing through your mouth you’re sending out only about half the quantity of water droplets into the atmosphere when you breathe out. Droplets and aerosols exhaled by an infected person are known to be the main means of covid transmission, so nose breathing is doing the people around you a favour too.
There have been many distressing pictures in the media of people with covid infections who need oxygen masks or ventilators to help them cope with the respiratory effects of the virus. If your body’s struggling for breath the instinctive reaction is to gasp for air and breathe quickly with shallow breaths, but that’s actually a very inefficient way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Nose breathing is far more effective at increasing the oxygen content of your blood. And breathing slowly but deeply - so that it’s your abdomen rather than your chest that rises and falls - increases the efficiency of oxygen transfer even more.
If you’d like to discover more about the benefits of nose breathing, check out Patrick McKeown at www.oxygenadvantage.com and his various YouTube videos.
Nose breathing is also helpful for your voice.
When you’re all bunged up with a cold and you wake up in the morning with a mouth that feels horrible because it’s been open all night, you’ll know only too well that mouth breathing dries both your mouth and the air you breathe. But if you breathe through your nose, not only does your mouth stay moist but the incoming air is moistened and warmed on its way up your nose, both of which are helpful for your voice.
Nose breathing is helpful in another way too when using the Better Voice technique of voice production. When you breathe through your mouth you can feel the cool air going into your throat, and in Better Voice your throat is something you’re wanting to ignore. But when you nose breathe you can feel the cool air travelling up your nose towards your forehead, which is where you’re wanting to imagine your voice is being produced.
Oh, and it makes your face look a lot nicer too!
[Photo: Trude Jonsson Stangel]
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