Someone asked me last week why we didn’t breathe out through our mouths. I was a little stumped. I know why we don’t breathe in through the mouth. It’s a protection thing. Nasal hairs trap bacteria and the nasal passages warm the incoming air so it’s not a shock to the system. But why don’t we breathe out through the mouth?

Some disciplines encourage it – pilates students are instructed to breathe out through the mouth.

In Hatha Yoga however we work with the life-force, the vital energy or prana. You may have heard of chi in acupuncture or Tai chi. Prana is the yoga equivalent. It travels in channels or nadis through the entire body. We want to conserve and control this flow of energy and when we breathe out through the mouth we lose this energy, more of it and more rapidly.

Also there are two main nadis connected with the nasal passages. They cross each other in the body and their points of intersection are the chakras. By breathing out through the mouth we are perhaps losing part of this connection with the chakras.

There are a multitude of disciplines, yoga, pilates, tai chi, aikeido, karate etc, etc, and they all have specific breathing practices. It might be confusing to be told one way to breathe in a pilates class and another way to breathe in a yoga class. Be flexible and open minded, keep practising and you may find that you can accommodate the different approaches and appreciate the distinct effects that they have. Above all, keep breathing!!

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