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Respiratory health can improve immunity in a COVID-19 world and beyond.

Anxiousness and stress makes us breathe more rapidly and shallowly. We tend to hold our breaths, we generally freezing our body such as our abdomen, pectoral muscles of the chest and our diaphragm. A lot of people begin breathing through their mouths because it feels more efficient and requires less effort than nose breathing. A lifestyle of prolonged sitting *cough* also makes it difficult to fully engage the diaphragm and abdomen because of postural restrictions. Working on the computer means our neck, shoulder, and chest muscles are already engaged which means they naturally take over for breathing as well, leading to shallow, upper torso breathing.


Common conditions that can occur when breathing through the mouth:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • hypertension,
  • tiredness
  • anxiety & panic attacks
  • asthma & emphysema
  • dysmenorrhea
  • epilepsy,
  • cold hands and feet
  • insomnia
covid-19, masks, safety, immunity

… And then there’s MASKS

In our current world, wearing masks has become a point of annoyance and even anxiety for some people because of the perceived difficulty of breathing while wearing masks. Many people begin mouth breathing when they are wearing a mask because they are not use to breathing through their noses with a cover on; it feels confining. However, it just takes practice, and/or finding the right mask that fits your face. Remember that everyone also has different bone structures, meaning that different mask designs with fit people’s face differently. When wearing masks, mouth breathing also expresses more moisture which can accumulate more bacteria sooner and more likely to saturate the mask with moisture leading to the dreaded maskne.

Automatically optimize your immune function through breathing

Nose breathing acts as a natural air filter and humidifier. It warms, moisturizes and slows airflow which helps reduce irritation. It increases nitric oxide production which increases oxygen absorption for the body. When nitric oxide is produced and released in the nasal cavities and blood vessel linings, it acts as an antiviral!

Cultivate a strong “Wei Qi” (immune Qi) through breathing

In Chinese medicine theory, the lungs are heavily associated with immunity and your “Wei Qi”. Qi gong is a discipline of practiced breathing and cultivating Qi through your breath. The ancient people understood the relationship between breathing and immunity even when they couldn’t comprehend they mechanisms behind it.



Remember that just like training other muscles of your body, breathing in a different way can feel difficult or unnatural at first, but that with practice it becomes more natural and easy, and in this case, healthier.

Breath through your nose

  1. Exhale to the count of 5 or 6
  2. Allow automatic inhale for a count of 4 or 5
  3. Make sure that your ribs and abdomen lower during inhalation and decrease a bit during exhalation.
  4. Check in with your neck and shoulders that they are relaxed. We often engage these breathing “accessory” muscles when we breathing anxiously because our bodies are engaged in a “fight/flight” stance.

Wearing a mask and social distancing is extremely important right now for the health and safety of ourselves and our society. Take the challenge on to practice breathing health so you can wear masks comfortably and improve your immunity while saving your community. If you’d like a more comprehensive training in breathing because you have the above symptoms and would like to see if breathing health can mitigate them, consider scheduling a Biofeedback visit.

Dr. Phonexay Lala Simon

Phonexay is a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac) and East Asian Medical Practitioner (EAMP) specializing in pain management, pregnancy and post-partum care, depression/anxiety, intuitive acupuncture and bodywork, and Cosmetic acupuncture/facial rejuvenation acupuncture.

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