Stretching Active Recovery

What is active recovery? Simply put, it’s an intentional action that we take to promote healthy repair to our body. This could be a few minutes spent foam rolling, going on a short recovery run, or taking a yoga class. As a rule active recovery should be low intensity at low volume and should mitigate rather than aggravate stress. Think warm up and cool down without the intense workout in between. In other words, your body shouldn’t feel taxed.

Throughout the week we push the limits of our bodies through repetitive movements that are designed to break down muscle and send signals to our brains that trigger adaptation. Whether our reasons are performance based or aesthetic, this is why we exercise.

Stretching Active Recovery

What many fail to remember is that in order to adapt, the body needs time to repair. The muscles and energy systems to which we’re applying stress, will only become weaker if we don’t give them this opportunity. If left unchecked long enough, this can lead to injury and chronic fatigue.
In order to give our bodies this critical repair time, it’s important to have active recovery days sprinkled into our training plan. Use these days for lower intensity exercise, stretching, or mashing and rolling. Remember that recovering thoroughly is just as important as training intensely. Treat your body wisely and it will reward you in kind.

Every day, I try to spend a minimum of two minutes practicing box breathing. I think of it as mental hygiene, because it’s like giving your mind a bath. It helps us to focus and clear our mind of distractions.

For me, it’s best to perform this exercise first thing in the morning, but as you begin to see and feel the results, you may find yourself sneaking away throughout the day to refocus your attention.

During your practice, focus on your breath. If your mind wanders, don’t allow yourself to become frustrated. Return to the breath. Like any other exercise, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

We begin box breathing by exhaling all of the air from the lungs. Once we’ve emptied, we inhale deeply into our bellies for a count of five and then retain that breath for a count of five seconds without closing off our airway. It may be tricky to resist the urge to “hold our breath” and close our mouths at first but with practice it becomes more natural.

Exhale slowly for a count of 5 seconds as you slowly push the air completely from your lungs. Suspend and hold the exhaled breath for an additional 5 seconds without closing the airway to complete the “box.”

Once you’ve mastered the box breath, you can deepen your impact by reciting a mantra each time you are on the hold portion of the exercise. For example: “I ___ know, see, hear and feel that I am _____.” (Fill in the blank with whatever you need to help you power through your day: “powerful, complete, loved, strong, etc.”)

Look at the diagram provided here for a visual of how the box breath works. Give it a try and let us know if you have questions on box breathing in the comments or over on our Facebook Page.

Executing The Box Breath

People have been using breathing exercises for centuries to help them focus and clear their mind of distractions and many of us at GRIT Life know the power of this mindfulness technique. Have a great week!