OH! Magazine - Australian Version June 2018 - Page 6

( FITNESS & MOTIVATION THE BENEFITS OF MICHELLE BRIDGES BOX BREATHING Michelle Bridges explains the benefits of box breathing. BOX BREATHING reathing – it’s something we all do and it’s the absolute foundation of our lives, but it’s also something that most of us pay almost no attention to, most of the time. B Instead, what most of us are doing is a shallow, rapid mouth breath that reaches only as far as the top part of the lungs. This shallow, rapid, open-mouthed breathing actually triggers, and then keeps us in, our ‘fight, flight, freeze’ state (aka, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in). Now this is exactly what you need when you’re in a truly stressful situation (like if your life is in danger from a rampaging sabre-toothed tiger and you need a lot of oxygen quickly to fuel your muscles so you can hightail it out of there), but it’s absolutely not helpful to be in that state all the time – in fact, it’s the equivalent of revving your car engine without relief, for the entire time you’re driving. And what happens if you constantly rev your car engine? You burn it out right? Right! Same goes with your body. Because we are surrounded by a lot of stress-inducing stuff in our modern society (and our body isn’t able to 6 OH! MAGAZINE ( JUNE 2018 ) 2 3 4 breathe in for 4 secconds 4 3 2 1 Ideally we should be taking belly breaths, using our diaphragms as well as our lungs, and moving the breath through our noses only, thus producing a slow, deliberate and full breath. 1 With the stresses and speed of our modern world, many of us have developed equally speedy breathing – shallow, rapid breaths that most often don’t actually serve us well, in terms of achieving optimum health. (also called ‘tactical breathing’, ‘SEAL breathing’, ‘commando breathing’, ‘square breathing’) 1 2 3 4 breathe out for 4 secconds 4 3 differentiate between the stress of a sabre-toothed tiger attack and the stress of being stuck in peak hour traffic), it’s up to us to deliberately, consciously take action to switch ourselves out of our ‘fight, flight, freeze’ state, and into our ‘rest and digest’ state (aka the para- sympathetic nervous system); to let our engines cool down and bring ourselves back into balance. Enter ‘box breathing’ as the mechanism for to achieve this. Box breathing is super simple, requires no equipment, can be done anywhere, and has an immediate effect. What’s not to love? CONNECT WITH MICHELLE VIA: Web: michellebridges.com.au Facebook: Mishy.Bridges Twitter: @mishbridges Instagram: @mishbridges 2 1 While the counts for box breathing can differ, what’s most important is that you breathe consciously and as slowly and as deeply. If that means you’re starting off with a two-count breath rhythm, then that’s what you start off with. The more you practise, the deeper and longer breaths you’ll be able to take. To begin, you need to bookend your day with a few rounds of box breathing. This will help you build the habit. Over time it will be become engrained, and you’ll be more likely to remember and employ it in stressful situations. Have a go, practise, practise, practise and before you know it, you’ll be breathing easy!