The way we breathe is often an overlooked aspect of our lives. For those of us who can breathe normally, when we have a temporary loss of our nasal breathing either through a cold, trauma, or allergic rhinitis we respect the importance of nasal breath. For those of us who have never been able to breathe through our noses, we may not appreciate how breathing can impact us.
Yoga plays a particular relationship between the mind-body connection. Breathing is called swara and is the essence of breath. The relationship between breathing and the mind and body is strongly associated within Yoga.
The left nostril is called Ida and is associated with mental energy, while the right nostril is called Pingala and associated with physical energy. According to some yoga gurus, if the left nostril is dominant, we tend to be more emotional, feminine, and compassionate. If the right nostril is more dominant we tend to be more masculine, dynamic, and aggressive.
Although I don’t personally prescribe to the personality changes which occur with nasal dominance, both by observations of patients and personality traits, I do believe there is a strong mind nasal connection. This relationship is gaining further traction in the medical community. My own anecdotal evidence of many patients after corrective nasal surgery suggests that patients who have improved breathing will often discuss have less stress and feeling less anxiousness. However, the body and mind are both complex and this, like many things in medicine, is definitely not an absolute.
Restoring balance to nasal breathing has many important physiologic benefits and perhaps some hidden benefits as well.