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Building immunity through breath

family yoga breathing

Protect yourself naturally – Part 1

Winter is always an important time to nourish your health and immune system, but with all the challenges of 2020, it seems more prudent than ever to do so.

The media bombards us with information on food and supplements that can help build immunity, which is absolutely correct and will be the subject of another blog, but here are my thoughts on some lifestyle changes that you can implement quickly to help boost it.

Sorry I simply can’t pass up on the opportunity – I’m a herbalist after all – to mention the herbs for immunity such as Cat’s Claw, Gotu Kola, Siberian Ginseng, Astragalus, Andrographis and we all know Echinacea, which you can have tailor made for your specific needs and health conditions at Optimum Health Essentials. But I digress….

Breathe well

Many of us breathe through our mouth. Did you know nasal breathing is more protective against viruses and bacteria than mouth breathing? Breathing through the nose not only has the function of trapping micro-organisms due to its cilia, stopping them reaching the lungs, it also helps you produce nitric oxide (NO), which when produced by the nose and nasopharynx, works directly on bacteria and viruses.

Your levels of NO are reduced by half if you mouth breathe. So you would do well to keep that mouth closed when not in use!

Also if you are a mouth breather, consider taping your mouth whilst you sleep. This will force you to nose breathe. It may feel odd the first time you do it, but quickly feels natural. It gives you a more relaxing sleep, not to mention it stops the need to drink so much water through the night, which many mouth breathers find necessary.

While it might not look too glamourous, it will help you produce NO.

Also research during the previous SARS epidemic, showed that NO inhibited that specific virus replicating. (That is not to say it will inhibit this current virus, but anything we can do during our cold and ‘flu season to reduce being affected by viruses, has to be worth implementing.)


Holding the breath

Those of us who do yoga regularly know the benefits of holding the breath at the end of each inhale and exhale. Holding your exhale has a calming effect, while holding the inhale has a stimulating effect. Doing both balances your breath.

Holding the breath has many benefits, including calming the body (and many need that these days), soothing, while focussing the mind and nervous system, but once again while holding the breath, we produce that much needed NO for increased immunity.

Hum to yourself

Another form of breathing in yoga is the Humming Bee breath. While this is not a breathing practise you can conduct just anywhere without getting unwanted attention, it is a technique you can do at home, which once again increases that much needed NO.

Research has shown that humming helps increase NO by more than 15 times! From 189nl/minute to 2818nl/minute. That might be worth embarrassing yourself for.

As an aside, it has also been used to alleviate chronic sinusitis, clearing a block nose. It takes a little more practice for that – 4 days of humming – hum for an hour the first day and 120 hums four times a day for the next three days. 


So why not introduce a few techniques that may well keep you healthier this winter and if you need a boost, remember at Optimum Health Essentials we have immune herbs in stock, or make an appointment if you are on medication/have other health conditions and I can prepare a specially tailored for you. Call us on 9999 1680 – we look forward to seeing you soon.


Sheena O’Beirne

Naturopath, Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher, Author

Optimum Health Essentials


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