A guest blog by YogaMotion Training Graduate Sarah Hamblock
Work for many people involves decision making, concentration, and a good attitude. There are many things in our work environments that can make achieving these a challenge! You can bring some yoga to the office to help you stay on track. The first tool is simply MOVING! In the realm of yoga, the physical practice of yoga is referred to as asana. Incorporating a simple asana routine into your workday will boost your energy and give your muscles and joints much needed movement. The following series can be done in a cubicle, bathroom, hallway, or anywhere that you feel comfortable!
The second tool may sound obvious, but is actually extremely powerful: breathing! Breath work, also called pranayama, is a technique by which the practitioner follows breathing patterns to soothe or energize the mind and body, depending on the pattern. The practice of Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing, can be used to focus the mind and invite calm.
- Place right hand index and middle finger on forehead, thumb resting on right nostril, ring finger resting on left nostril
- Close right nostril with thumb, inhale
- Close left nostril with ring finger, exhale
- Inhale through right nostril
- Close right nostril with thumb, exhale
- Continue switching from side to side for 20 rounds
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may need that last push of energy late in the afternoon. The practice of kapalabhati, or skull shining breath, oxygenates the blood and increase blood flow to the brain. Skip this practice if you are pregnant!
- Sitting upright begin breathing into your belly and squeezing your abs to exhale (this requires the diaphragm to engage!)
- Draw in a big breath through your nostrils with your chest lifted
- Strongly exhale through your nostrils
- Allow inhale to occur naturally, focus only on swift exhales
- Begin with 3 swift exhales for the first few practices, then increase to 7, and then to 11, as your lungs gain strength
Brief asana and pranayama practices during your workday are great for your body and your mind. I encourage you to give it a try!
Among the pillars of yogic teachings are contentment, truthfulness, and self-study. The practice of gratitude journaling gives us the opportunity to address all three. The materials needed for gratitude journaling are 1) a notebook 2) a writing tool 3) 10 minutes and 4) a willing mind. Bullet point three to five things that you are grateful for two times a week. You can write about physical items, relationships, the future, or past encounters. By recognizing what you already have, you can find contentment. Humans have a terrible habit of convincing ourselves of non-truths. Focusing our brains on the positive, the opportunity, the improvement allows us to better realize the truth we are living in. Taking the time to reflect on what we are grateful for is a form of self-study. We are checking in, focusing on the present moment, going deep. This practice is another tool that is simple, yet powerful.
When traveling, we often find ourselves seated for long periods of time. While on a plane, bus, or car, it is easy to let your body sink into the seat, letting your back and ab muscles go. I encourage you to sit with intention! When you sit, align your shoulders over your hips. Find an anterior curve in your lumbar spine and a posterior curve in your thoracic spine (broaden your back body). Broaden your collarbone and lengthen your neck. Of course, it would be a challenge to sit like this for a 4 hour flight, but you can come back to this alignment throughout the flight to spark up your muscles. You can do a few simple poses that won’t disturb your neighbors. While seated, straighten your arms in front of you, with your hands clasped (bend your elbows if necessary). Round and arch your back allowing your head to drop forward and then extend back. This mini-cat/cow brings movement to your vertebrae and gives your back a break from holding the same position. The next pose is a seated twist. Sitting upright in your seat, turn your torso to one side, keeping your hips rooted on the seat. Lead from your abdomen, then allow one arm to anchor to the outside leg and the other behind your back. Let your head rotate last (you’ll likely be looking right at your headrest)!
I encourage you to give these tools a try! You deserve to live the best life possible, and a huge part of that is having a healthy body and mind. By bringing our yoga off the mat, into our everyday, we can begin to achieve our best life.
Thanks for reading!