How Pranayam Can Bring Balance To Your Work Life
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A long, subtle breath establishes a calm mind. And a calm mind is all you need to balance your whole life.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. There are different styles of yoga being practised around the world. However, the one thing common to all is pranayam, a deep breathing technique.
What is pranayam?
‘Prana’ means life force (breath), and ‘ayam’ means expansion. While practising pranayam, the body is supplied with fresh oxygen when we inhale, and effectively releases toxins from the body when we exhale. It helps purify the blood, as well as the mind.
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Stress is an inherent part of our lives today, and often, it interferes with our faculties, and affects our health. Most of our stress comes from work, which is where we spend the majority of our day. The stress and anxiety levels at work are off the charts nowadays – back to back meetings, project deadlines, and performance reviews really take a toll on the body and mind. This gives us sleepless nights, innumerable diseases, and a lack of patience, all of which affect our work, making it a vicious circle. The deep breathing techniques of pranayam can help restore balance and alleviate stress.
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The benefits of this practice include:
- The extra oxygen pumped into the lungs when you deeply inhale helps relieve stress; it also calms the mind and nerves.
- It helps clear your nasal passages.
- Lowers/stabilises blood pressure.
- Increases energy levels.
- Helps in lung expansion, and improves its efficiency.
So how does it work to counter stress?
The following pranayam techniques have proven to be effective in calming the mind and promoting a healthier body:
- Abdominal breathing – Practising this technique for 10 minutes a day will transform your system. Sit on the floor, or in any comfortable position, and inhale deeply, while slowly pushing your abdominal muscles out. This will help the lower part of your lungs to expand. When you exhale, gently let go off your breath and contract your abdominal muscles slightly to push out the residual air from the lungs. This helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate almost instantly. If you’re dealing with a bad work situation, calm yourself down by this kind of breathing.
- Alternate nostril breathing – Whenever you’re feeling anxious or restless, practise alternate nostril breathing, or nadi shodhan. This will immediately help you feel more peaceful. Holding your right thumb over your right nostril, breathe deeply from your left nostril. Then close your left nostril and exhale from your right nostril, and continue the alternate nostril breathing. This asana is known to connect both sides of the brain, and help balance the body.
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There are many more breathing exercises which help stabilise the mind and the body. Pranayam must be practised every day, even if only for 10 minutes initially. When you concentrate on your breathing, a lot of the stress, anxiety, and anger fall away. You will feel calmer, and more energised to tackle the day ahead of you. Practising yoga has huge benefits for the mind and body. This, complemented with healthy food choices, compounds the goodness of living. So use these techniques to forget about your bad work day, and re-centre.