When Wine and Yoga meet

… Optimising your tasting experience using appropriate breathing techniques to explore your senses, support your learning, and anchor your impressions.

Wine and Yoga have more in common than we might initially think.

Both are ancestral disciplines and a source of inexhaustible inspiration and knowledge. Over the years I have been participated in numerous wine tastings. The art of tasting requires precise techniques acquired through the understanding of some science but also on learning how to taste with many practical sessions to perfect skills.

The same dedication is expected in Yoga. Beyond being a secular tradition with its many benefits to both body and mind, the practice of Yoga demands rigor, precision and technicity. My years of devoted practice with the understanding of proper breathing have proved tremendously helpful in supporting my awakening and exploration of my senses.

Through specific relaxation, breathing and visualization techniques, the senses awaken and become more precise.

I am not a neurologist or a doctor, so I approached some experts in the medical field to try and understand better how breathing and memory are linked. I concede that not everything needs explaining; Science has begun to recognize and accept what Yogis understood thousands of years ago; appropriate breathing enhances cognitive performance and is proving beneficial when working with long term memory.

Applied to wine tasting, adequate Yogic breathing can prove beneficial helping with long term memory of the wine.

What follows is food for thought and extracts from the pedagogic content of Pause, Breathe, Taste workshop.

Connection between breathing and specifically nasal breathing on brain activity

« As we breathe a multitude of information is sent to the brain. This information enters the nostrils and interacts with receptors on the nasal cavities. The idea that breathing has an impact on our emotions is far from new. An agreeable odor offers a pleasing sensation. On the contrary an offensive odour often provokes negative emotions. Our sense of smell is made possible by nasal breathing. This helps in interpreting situations, emotional state but also can impact our behaviour.

What is of interest here, is how breathing helps awaken the senses and support memory. Recent research led by American and European neurologists confirmed that appropriate breathing is a bridge to neurological transmissions. Added to that was the realisation that breathing has indeed a beneficial effect on supporting long term memory and memory recovery.

During inhalation, odour molecules called ‘information’ go through the nasal cavity. This action is called in French ‘aéroportage’ and can also happen through retro-nasal olfaction.

The information is received by receptors in the olfactory bulb and directed to the brain to be ‘analysed’ by different zones in the brain. Specific zones such as the cortex piriform (important part of the olfactory brain zone) interacts with other zones such as the Hippocamp involved in facilitating and retaining information. This is useful a piece of information when one knows that in wine tasting a great deal of importance is being given to nasal breathing and olfaction to help work and build on our aromas memory bank ».

Inhalation is so important

«If you have ever attended a Yoga class you probably might have noticed that your breathing exercises were mainly done with inhalation performed through the nose. Yogis did not know in their time how to scientifically explain the whys and how’s but they knew that nasal breathing associated to other specific breathing techniques were keys to maintain physical well-being but also support a healthy functioning of brain activities.

To try to keep things clear; the nose contains a gas (Nitric Oxide) which during inhalation is released by the sinus into the nasal cavities. This gas has many beneficial effects such as increasing our capacity to breathe, allow for a better ingress of oxygen (alongside this vital energy called in Yoga; Prana) and nutrients, promotes better functioning and oxygen ventilation of the lungs etc.

At the beginning of the previous century the work of renown Russian scientist Doctor Buteyko already highlighted the many positive effects of the activation of this gas through proper nasal inhalation. Yet, in the last decades a greater interest arose especially amongst scientists and neurologists about the whole importance of nasal breathing and its impact on memory. The medical field has conducted numerous clinical studies -and still are- to better comprehend the connection between breathing and memory functions and how this can help patients suffering memory loss such as in Alzheimer conditions. What scientists are starting to understand what Yogis intuitively knew; a serious approach to breathing through Pranayama (breathing control) have tremendous benefits at the physical but also cognitive and neurological level. Using the breath to maintain health, sustain learning and improve memory. Yogis insisted on calm, slow and fluid breathing for a better result. »

For more information on Signature workshop Pause, Breathe, Taste, get in touch through contact@vinsdeuxmondes.com

Three Steps Yogic Breathing with Martine Bounet

This way of breathing is calm inducing but helps us reconnect to the present moment. It is also increasingly recognised that nasal breathing is a great way to sustain learning and memory.