Workplace Health and Wellbeing tip: Breath deep to find calm

Workplace Health and Wellbeing tip: Breath deep to find calm

Breathing is at the root of most ancient mindfulness practices, yoga being no exception. It is known to be one of the most powerful self-regulation tools because of its ability to change and calm the nervous system in just a few seconds, which makes it a powerful health and wellbeing tool for your working week. Hard to believe how quickly you can positively impact your health and wellbeing while at work or on the go in just a few seconds!

Read on for a practical guide that will positively impact your health and wellbeing during the working week. 

For us yogis we know through experience that our yoga practice becomes more expansive and integrated when conscious attention is placed on the breath. When we flow merging breath with movement – we create harmony and congruence between the body and the mind. It’s a beautiful thing and ultimately helps us find a calm, equanimous state of being.

One of my favourite calming and centering breathing exercises to do is Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breath). A few minutes of this breathing technique is a great way to de-stress the mind and release accumulated tension and fatigue. And it’s suitable for anyone at any time! Pregnant mummas included 🙂

You can catch me on THLP’s online library giving a video tutorial of this breathing exercise or follow the instructions below.

Read about Hilary Clinton using this breathing exercise following her parliamentary loss.

 

HEALTH AND WELLBEING TIP: NADI SHODANA – ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING EXERCISE FOR DEEP CALM

Alternate Nostril Breath (nadi = subtle energy channel; shodhan = cleaning, purification) is a balancing breath and body technique..

5 – 10 x full cycles (full cycle is in through left, out of right, in through right out of left)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Find a nice tall spine
  2. Chose a hand position; you can bring fingers to Vishnu mudra place thumb and ring finger over the hollow at the top bridge of nose cartilage or you can simply fold the middle finger over the index finger on each hand
  3. Closing your right nostril with thumb or right index finger, inhale only through the left nostril
  4. Close the left nostril (apply Kumbhaka “breath retention”/ hold if you’re comfortable with this)
  5. Open the right nostril, covering the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril
  6. Inhale through the right nostril (apply Kumbhaka “breath retention”)
  7. Switch fingers to exhale through the left.
  8. Alternate between left and right to the ratio of 4 counts (inhale): 2 counts (hold) : 4 counts(exhale). You can build towards 8:4:8.

 

BENEFITS

  • Lowers heart rate reducing stress and anxiety
  • Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system so healing and rejuvenation becomes a priority
  • Balances the two hemispheres of brain functionality as it balances the body
  • Increases mental focus and clarity
  • Positive impact on mental health

Find equanimity of the energy system by purifying the Nadi’s so that prana (life force) can flow more easily allowing you to feel calmer during your working week.

Benefits of corporate yoga – five reasons to try it out!

Benefits of corporate yoga

Workplace wellness programs featuring yoga and meditation have gained traction in recent years, with companies such as Google, Forbes, HBO, Nike and Apple rolling out wellness programs that include yoga. So, what’s all the fuss about? Why do corporate yoga?

Yoga can help all workplaces, regardless of size or location. Let me share five benefits of corporate yoga that will get you wanting to practice during your working week.

  1. Improve mental wellness

A recent study by Australian researchers from Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute found that breaking up your sedentary time isn’t only important for physical health. It can also significantly reduce your risk of depression and anxiety. This study found that Aussies sit on average for 10 hours a day (probably more during Covid-19). Moral of the story, move more and get the blood flowing to improve mental health. Read more on the SMH.

  1. Increase energy and fight fatigue

We refer to energy as ‘prana’ or life force in Sanskrit (yogi language) and it is believed that when we are stressed, eat poorly, sleep-deprived, dehydrated etc. our vital energy is low or out of balance. Yoga helps us restore balance through breath, movement and meditation. Finding balance will help you thrive.

 

  1. Alleviate tight muscles

This one is a no brainer, if we sit too long the muscles get tight and lazy. Sore back and neck, tight hamstrings and poor core strengthen are typical of a sedentary lifestyle – yoga helps you strengthen and stretch.

 

  1. Combat stress

Have you ever noticed how breathing deeply even just for one minute can alter how you feel? Throughout our yoga practice we cultivate deep yogi breathing. 45 mins of movement plus breath, to calm the fluctuations of the mind. Our aim is to have you walk away from class in a state of bliss. Savasana (corpse pose) is the final pose of practice (and probably the most important) where we integrate mind, body and soul in the state of bliss.

 

  1. Practice resilience

Yoga can show us how we respond to situations off the mat. Ask yourself, when you arrive in a posture that isn’t comfortable, how do I react? Do you quit or can you breathe through the sensations? This is where we cultivate resilience. I like a slow practice where we sit in a posture for at least five breaths – sometimes there is burning, other times trembling, whatever you feel can you use your breath to anchor to the present moment, rising above the thoughts and sensations? Want to know more? Read more on cultivating presence on my blog here.

There are many more reasons why you would benefit from trying corporate yoga – stay tuned or see you on the mat.

Thrive in 2019 & tips to stress less

Each year when it gets to the final few weeks of the year it feels as though someone comes along and cranks up the intensity dial. Did you feel that?

More social engagements. Last minute work deadlines. Christmas shopping. A quick run. One more drink. Work. Run. Drink. Blah. Blah. Blah…

It’s exhausting and not just draining for the bank balance, but draining on the body, mind and soul.

If you’ve returned to work this week, you’re probably feeling a little slower (maybe even sluggish post-Christmas & NYE celebrations). But it’s kind-of nice. That feeling of exhaustion has lifted. And yes, there may be a lingering kg or two to deal with and a promise to never drink again… but you feel renewed, for the most part.

Don’t you feel as though your mind is more spacious? Creative ideas might be flowing, aspirations for the year to come are high – we’re altogether more authentically ourselves.

The thing is, we can have this at any moment throughout the year. Yes, I hear you, having time off with loved ones helps, but a huge part of that wind-up is simply not taking the time to notice just how stressed we are.

For me, it’s during silly season and any other stressful period that I really need some (extra) me time. Time to breath and nourish my body with movement. And plenty of self-care.

I only recognise this now after years of saying yes to more deadlines, yes to more coffee and yes to more booze in those times of stress – but in the end none of that makes me feel less tired or less inclined to want to yell at the person who cut me off (Christmas is the only time of year I feel any road rage, anyone else?). In the end, none of that makes me more present for those around me I love most.

We can have all this year round. We can thrive. Give your body the right ingredients and you will thrive.

At a time of year where you are setting intentions ask yourself; what will make you thrive more in 2019?

And how can you lay that foundation now, while things are a little slower and you can implement change – what can you do this week to help yourself thrive more in 2019?

SOME TIPS TO STRESS LESS

Breathe deeply.

If you stop breathing you die, it’s simple. Breath keeps you alive! But so often we restrict it, often unconsciously. When we’re stressed or nervous or anxious, we hold our breath or breathe in short, shallow bursts. Try becoming aware of your changing breathing patterns. Make a mental note to yourself to breathe when you find yourself feeling stressed. Stop what you’re doing and breathe deeply—in through your nose, out through your mouth—for as long as you need to. I also like making an “aaghrrr” sound. Not only will you find that your heart rate slows and the chatter of your mind tends to cease, you’ll also likely find greater clarity around whatever was worrying you. For a deeper practice see Nadi Shodana below.

Move daily.

Movement helps the body process the stress. The stress will hang around far longer than it needs to without movement. The next time you’re stressed, try going for a walk or run or doing some yoga or signing up for a class – find something that gives you pleasure and get out there and do it.

For me, it’s yoga.

In yoga we use deep, slow breathing as an anchor into the present moment. Each movement or posture is paired with breath. Each posture an opportunity to be present in that moment. See below for a few favourites.

If yoga or meditation interests your workplace, contact me at The Happy Living Project to arrange a free consultation or trial.

Bathe indulgently.

When all else fails (though I promise the tips above won’t!), treat yourself. When the stress won’t abate, allow yourself the time and space to luxuriate. You don’t need to head to a fancy spa—though you’re welcome to! You can create a stress-free, relaxed, indulgent experience right from the comfort of your own bathtub. Water is healing and restorative, especially with some magnesium bath salts and lovely aromatherapy oils( lavender and rose are my fav).

POSTURES & BREATHING EXERCISES TO STRESS LESS

  • Forward fold (Uttanasana)

This can help quite a busy mind, balance the nervous system, and promote feelings of calm and peace. This posture is super easy, not props or experience required.

Steps

  • From standing, bend the knees, slightly engage the core, and hinge forward from the hips, placing the hands in front of or alongside your feet.
  • Shift the weight onto the balls of your feet and feel the sit bones lifting up toward the ceiling. For tight hamstrings, you can keep the knees bent to protect the lower back. Otherwise, lengthen through the backs of the legs while keeping the weight in the balls of the feet.
  • Take hold of each elbow with the opposite hand and soften around the eyes, jaw, neck, head, and mind.

Hold for a few breaths, or longer if you feel comfortable. If you have low blood pressure, take your time coming out of the pose.

  • Nadi Shodana – Alternate Nostril Breath

Alternate Nostril Breath (nadi = subtle energy channel; shodhan = cleaning, purification) is a balancing breath and body technique. A few minutes of this breathing technique is great way to destress the mind and release accumulated tension and fatigue.

Read about Hilary Clinton using this following her parliamentary loss.

5 – 10 x full cycles (full cycle is in through left, out of right, in through right out of left)

Steps

  1. Find a nice tall spine
  2. Place thumb and ring finger over the hollow at the top bridge of nose cartilage. Use your right hand, so the thumb covers the right nostril and ring finger the left. Fold the middle two fingers down.
  3. Closing your right nostril with thumb or right index finger, inhale only through the left nostril
  4. Close the left nostril (apply Kumbhaka “breath retention”/ hold if you’re comfortable with this). .
  5. Open the right nostril, covering the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril
  6. Inhale through the right nostril (apply Kumbhaka “breath retention” if you wish)
  7. Switch fingers to exhale through the left.
  8. Alternate between left and right to the ratio of 4 count (inhale): 2 (hold) : 4 (exhale). You can build towards 8:4:8.

BENEFITS

  • Lowers heart rate reducing stress and anxiety
  • Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system so healing and rejuvenation becomes a priority
  • Balances the two hemispheres of brain functionality as it balances the body
  • Increases mental focus and clarity
  • Find equanimity of the energy system by purifying the Nadi’s so that prana can flow more easily.

Living fully in the moment

Yoga offers its practitioners the gift of being present.

When we are fully present in the moment, we offer our whole selves to whatever it is that we are doing. Our attention, and our energy are all fully immersed on the task at hand.

This experience is so powerful that when we are in this state, we feel completely alive. Some sports phycologists call it the “state of flow” or being “in the zone”. This feeling of aliveness comes easily when we are absorbed in work or play that we love, but it is available to us in every moment, and we can learn to summon it regardless of what we do.

Next time you find yourself fully engaged in the moment, whether you are cooking, lifting weights, running, or talking to your best friend, you may want to take a moment to notice how you feel. You may notice that you are not thinking about your to-do list, your body feels – good, your brain is focused, you might generally feel content.

Expect nothing, appreciated it all.

When we let go of our expectations of what should happen, we can enjoy each moment for what it can offer.

Attitude is everything in life, whether that is on or off your yoga mat.  You have a choice about how you respond to a situation. Take these scenarios; you’re running late for a meeting, Sydney traffic strikes making your journey slower, then someone cuts you off while diving – easy to get frustrated in this situation, but you have a choice; you can blow up or wave it off and appreciate the extra moments you get to yourself in the car. You try a yoga pose that’s new to you, you try to copy the teacher but your shape doesn’t look the same – you have a choice; you can beat yourself up and deem yourself a failure or you can stop and appreciate that you’ve tried something new and had a fun time trying.

Celebrate the small things, however insignificant they seem because this will slowly have a much bigger effect on your thinking.

When we bring our expectations along, we’re likely to get disappointed. If you pause to celebrate the small victories or don’t let allow yourself to be affected by the stresses life throws at you, then you’re likely to enjoy life just as it is.