Fresh Air Fridays*

 

* Also available on other days of the week

 

The Fresh Air Fridays self-development community has sprung up in pockets across south Wales and extended into south west England. The initiative is based on mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) practices that teach simple tools and techniques to support you create a happier, healthier life.

 

I’d stumbled across the concept online several months ago and been keen to discover more to share ideas around using nature and movement to facilitate learning. One autumnal Wednesday morning I headed for the historic Victorian Belle Vue Park which offers a green oasis in the midst of Newport in South Wales. I’d coerced Emma, my University friend, to share the experience with the added bonus of being able to compare our understandings afterwards.

 

BREATHE

 

Stood collectively under a covered trellised walkway surrounded by swathes of autumnal colours; fiery oranges, crimson reds and deep yellows the bland beige office walls where I’d worked for the majority of the previous week faded into distant memory. Melanie Faulks, the Fresh Air Friday’s facilitator gently guided us through a series of segments over the course of a three-hour period.

 

We eased into the session through 7/11 breathing exercises to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and stimulate the body’s natural relaxation mechanism.

 

Breathing in = Excited state which quickens the heart rate, increases breathing rate and increases adrenaline production

 

Breathing out = Relaxed state which slows the heart rate, reduces breathing rate and decreases adrenaline production

 

“Deep breathing calms you down because brain cells spy on your breathe”

 

Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph

 

Dialling into breath-work lies at the centre of yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Martial Arts…I would also add running and any other rhythmic sport-like activity to the list. The practice is based on deeper b