A review of Breathe (Strategising Energy in the Age of Burnout) by Dr Ela Manga
Review by Karen Wilson
Dr Ela Manga is a Johannesburg-based doctor who found her calling in integrative medicine. Burnout from the stress and challenges of modern-day life and technology was the crux of many patient ailments, and she has focused her work on ways to address this energy crisis.
As Dr Manga explains, many people now live in a persistent state of adrenalised energy. Whilst this serves the purpose of dealing with short-term stressful or demanding situations, it is crucial to balance out this high-energy state with a rest and recovery mode – what she refers to as authentic or natural energy, when the body’s parasympathetic nervous system is activated. If energy balance is out of kilter for years, symptoms such as insomnia, panic attacks, extreme fatigue, depression, recurrent infections, and heart disease will start to show up.
The book is divided into three sections – Body Intelligence, Mind Intelligence and Heart Intelligence. A selection of her patient stories depicts how their lifestyles, habits and beliefs eventually landed them either in the Danger Zone (more wired than tired) or the Burnout Zone (more tired than wired), signs of which Dr Manga describes in her Energy Zone Map. The third zone is the Optimum Zone, where we should ideally be – at least most of the time!
In the context of the stories, the book covers areas such as diet, rest, exercise, mindfulness, connecting with nature, and conscious breathing as antidotes to energy imbalance and burnout. Dr Manga has a particular interest in the breath and how it can be harnessed for authentic energy, and she shares some simple breathing techniques to incorporate into daily life. She talks about the importance of regular ‘recovery loops’ – these can be as brief as a good sigh and a stretch or as long as a weekend getaway – to help restore a sense of calm and well-being.
A copy of Breathe is available in our Chartered Client Library for short-term loans. You can find more information on Dr Ela Manga and her ‘Breathwork’ on her website, www.drelamanga.com.