Because of a telephone call from a very well medical-educated patient this morning, I am sending you this e-mail. She was not aware of some aspects of “nose-physiology and psychology.
This article I wrote years ago for Beit Knesset Aderet Eliyahu in Gilo.
Kol ha-neshama………”all that breathes”
Our nose, our emotions, stress and much more.
The nose is an extremely important organ and is very well described in the literature of old medical traditions like that from India and China.
In western medicine, the nose has been denigrated to an organ which, if it does not function “as it should”, maybe treated aggressively with decongestants, nose drops, operations [polyps] etc.
There are powerful connections between the nose and the [central, autonomic] nervous system.
The nerve that goes from the brain to the nose [which we use for smelling]- the olfactory nerve-connects our outside world with the limbic system in the brain, an especially significant centre, the seat of our emotions.
The way the inhaled air “whirls” with a great deal of turbulence through the complex structures in the nose is an absolute wonder of creation.
The airflow in the nose can reach a velocity of 20 to 200 miles per hour, depending on one’s activities.
As the nose contains a lot of tissue that easily swells up there is a constant change of airflow because of an ongoing shrinking and swelling of the tissues in the nostrils.
This is possibly the most complicated show of “aeronautics” in the world!
There is a clear connection between the nose and the sexual organs/functions in human beings.
Of course, this did not escape the attention of Freud [and others] who showed that menstrual pains could sometimes be relieved temporarily by anaesthetizing certain areas in the nose.
It is interesting that many of us
would never have realized the following: [try to discover this for yourself ]
More or less every 2 hours there is a change in the blockage of the nostrils: gradually one nostril gets increasingly open and the other one increasingly engorged [nearly completely blocked] and this repeats itself in an ongoing circle if we are healthy.
Slowly western physiology has come to appreciate the wisdom of the old yogi.
It has been shown that overactivity of the left nostril [excessive air flow] relates to some forms of depression and an overactivity from the right nostril with hyperactivity.
The special breathing techniques used by yogis, one of them called alternative nostril breathinggot a firm western scientific base by showing the physiological relations between breathing and mental states.
There are many techniques described by the yogi, and we will just discuss one of them.
An advanced technique, not described here, is to use both nostrils [to let the air flow freely through them at the same time] to calm the mind.
Snoring which can cause sleep apnoea-apnea [periodically stopping of breathing during sleep which can even last up to half a minute!]is more than a simple nuisance and the connection with high blood pressure and heart disease is well established.
If one closes the mouth of somebody who snores [forcing him to breathe through his nose] the snoring becomes innocent [harmless] and does not cause a closing of the upper airways, this contrasts with snoring with an open mouth which can be dangerous.
I will describe how the technique of alternative nostril breathing. This is one of the most powerful breathing exercises, and it increases lung capacity as well as one’s concentration.
Sit in a normal comfortable chair, straight but relaxed.
Check which nostril is active [the one through which you can breathe most freely at that moment].
Rest the index and middle finger in the middle between the eyebrows [so-called “third eye”].
Let’s say that your right nostril is open now, in this case, close with your ring finger the left nostril by pressing at the side of the nose.
 Exhale slowly through the right nostril, counting [mentally] for 6 seconds as you exhale.
Straight afterwards inhale for 6 seconds through the same [right] nostril, still keeping the left nostril closed.
 Now straight after inhaling through the right nostril close with your thumb nowthe right nostril and remove the ring finger from the left nostril.
Exhale for 6 seconds, then inhale for 6 seconds slowly and switch again.
 Close left nostril [with ring finger]and breathe out and in [6+6 seconds]
 Close right nostril [with thumb] and breathe out and in[6+6 seconds]
Close the left nostril and breathe [6+6 seconds]
Close the right nostril and breathe [6+6 seconds]
All in all, you have done these 3 rounds.
In short: start with the nostril which is most open and breathe, out and in while closing the other nostril, and then switch to the other nostril again, breath out and in while closing the second nostril again.
Repeat this exercise 3 times.
[6 complete breaths, one each side 3]
Important: make the exhaling and inhaling as smooth as possible [no jerks, no pauses and of equal length, the length of the “6 seconds” is less important]
As you progress, increase the lengths, maybe to “8 seconds”, but keep things flowing and smooth!
This simple exercise has a beneficial influence on the functioning of both halves [hemispheres] of the brain, on concentration and on lung function as said before.
Try to do the exercise if possible 3 times a day. It will take you only a few minutes.
In future issues of this leaflet [alon] we may discuss some more breathing techniques, b”h.
May the “Af”[anger][also nose in Hebrew] connected to chodesh Av change to Erech apayim.
And to end with a good wish from Jewish source connected with t”he nose”: [job41:10]
|י עֲטִישֹׁתָיו, תָּהֶל אוֹר; וְעֵינָיו, כְּעַפְעַפֵּי–שָׁחַר.||10 His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning|
|Rashi: His sneezes flash forth light: With every sneeze that he sneezes, light flashes forth and shines.|
|flash forth: as in (above 29:3), “when He lit (בהלו) His candle.”|
|and his eyes are like the rays of dawn: His eyes shine and illuminate like the redness of the sun, like the time of morning when the sun becomes red.|