No Rest for a Mouth Breather

While “mouth breather” can be a derogatory term, breathing through your mouth also has physiological consequences. Amidst the fitness revolution we’re experiencing, amazing work is being done to understand the nervous system in the body. Generally speaking, we have a few notable states that the body operates in.

One worth noting is the sympathetic state, which is all about sex, drugs, and rock & roll. It’s the state that is of high arousal that allows us to go for food, reproduce, and face the dangers of the world. It is generally active and stressful. The opposite is the parasympathetic state. This is a state of recovery and recuperation.

As you can imagine, it would help to have these in a bit of harmony. Without the actionable abilities of the sympathetic state, we’d be easy to kill and we’d nap ourselves to death. Too much of it and you’ll likely be, well, you. Many of us are guilty of a chronically sympathetic state of low level stress and unsustainable lifestyle habits. We’re always on even when we’re not supposed to be.

It turns out that our breath is a key contributor to the state of our nervous system and visa versa. After all, how would you breathe while sprinting away from an attacker? Calmly in and out through your nose? No way, you couldn’t get enough air in. What about while murdering your next meal? Of course, it’s fun to think about how you’d breathe in the middle of ravenous sex, too.

The answer is through your mouth. More stress requires more oxygen and we all switch from nasal breathing to the mouth with enough arousal, albeit on the treadmill or in the bedroom. The problem is when you don’t default to nasal breathing when you need to recover. In other words, if you’re breathing out of your mouth when you’re watching Netflix (or God forbid during sleep), you’re central nervous system might not be getting the whole recovery and recuperation memo.

Why, then, does every yoga teacher and meditation monologue request you breathe in form your nose? You guessed it: the parasympathetic state.

If you’re a maniac, which chances are in 2018, you are, then you can actually trick your body into a parasympathetic state. And, you probably should. That’s the recovery and recuperation one. You like that. You need that.

The next time you think of it, notice how you’re breathing. This may be an oversimplified view of a powerful connection between your breath and your nervous system, but it might just be the simple habit that can get you back in balance.


Logan Gelbrich


7/20/18 WOD

Complete 5 rounds for quality of:
4 Yoke Picks (AHAP)
100′ Reverse Sled Drag (AHAP)
:60 Weighted Plank (AHAP)

Then, complete 10 rounds for reps of:
:15 Max KB Swings (70/53)
-Rest :30-