Breathing lessons for Raglan Surf Academy

Just breathe,” they always say, “and everything will be okay.”

Breathe Project educators Bodhi Whitaker and Kat Tucker have brought this message all the way from Australia to share with the Raglan Surf Academy students.

Originally from Gisborne, Bodhi is just the right person to connect with the young academy grommets. The 2009 Rip Curl Raglan Classic Under-19 Champion understands first-hand the pressures of surf competition.

“Not only are they putting pressure on themselves to win, there are expectations from their parents, their teachers and their peers,” Bodhi says.

“That’s where the breathing comes in to help them refocus, centre themselves and improve their performance overall.”

The young surfers are in good company. Breathing techniques have been used by the All Blacks for many years, Bodhi and Kat say, and the Warriors are using breathing after every try to help them refocus their game to excellent results this season with two wins in a row.

Bodhi and Kat have taken Breathe Project on the road in a tour dubbed Back to the Roots after several years touring Australian schools and organisations teaching mindful breathing, which incorporates a technique that dates back 5000 years.

They’ve been able to connect to New Zealand schools with a little help from Bodhi’s surf connections and a lot of help from social media.

The three-week tour has seen them in 14 schools in Whakatane, Gisborne, Whangamata, Raglan, Auckland and Bay of Islands, and payment by koha means the schools pay as much as they can afford and sometimes payment has come in the way of food baskets and accommodation.

The pair have combined Bodhi’s extensive experience as a Psychosomatic Therapist and yoga teacher, supporting youth and adults through awareness, education and action and Kat’s health promotion, acrobatic training, yoga and youthwork experience to connect with young people in a cool, relatable way.

They work with both the students and teachers so the programme can be easily integrated into the daily school programme.

“It’s about practising mindful breathing when you don’t need it so when you do, it becomes a natural response,” Bodhi says.

Young people are constantly being over stimulated in society today, they say, and the fight or flight response is activated unnecessarily leaving individuals breathing less deeply and more often.

This heightened stimulation turns up stress hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, sweat production, and anxiety.

“We’re trying to break that dysfunction by breathing slower and deeper,” Kat says.

They say mindful breathing is not only for young people and everyone would benefit from taking some time in their day to practise the simple breathing technique.

“It’s so simple,” Bodhi says.  “You could practise it in the morning with a cup of tea or it’s perfect at night just before you go to sleep.”

For more information about Breathe Project visit breatheproject.com.au.