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Stressed Out at the Office? 5 Practices You Can Do at Work for Instant Calm

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The best part? Nobody even needs to know you’re doing them.

Try these practices to help with stress at work.

When we’re feeling stressed, many of us turn to yoga. Yet we often forget that yoga doesn’t necessarily require a sticky mat or a softly-lit studio. Yoga, and its infinite practices, are available to us anywhere, anytime. Even at work.

Years ago, I had a boss who was a worrywart. She micromanaged, fretted, and hovered. Her nervous energy wove its tentacles into me, gripping my neck and shoulders, imprisoning my breath in my upper chest, and taking up residence in my low back.

Those days, I lived for my lunchtime yoga class—one hour when I could leave distractions at the door and slip into the still, clear lake of my inner sanctuary. I’d glide out of that class every day relaxed and restored, until my boss would unleash her panic and I was back to square one. That is, until one day when I realized that inner sanctuary my yoga class inspired was actually with me. Always. Instead of counting on yoga classes to sustain me, I began to subtly weave yoga into my workday. When I noticed my stress levels rising, I’d take a moment to simply breathe—and found I was able to feel instantly centered and calm, often without even leaving my desk.

See also The Stress-Busting Yoga Sequence to Conquer Tension

5 Practices to Do At Your Desk

We all face work-related stress. And, we all have an inner sanctuary. You may not be able to close a door, roll out a mat, and curl up in Balasana (Child’s Pose), but there are ways to experience yoga—discreetly—at your workplace.

Here are five practices to cultivate calm when you’re feeling overwhelmed on the job:

Chair Vinyasa

When we’re stressed, we hold it in our bodies. Gentle movement unwinds this physical discomfort, encouraging relaxation. A modified version of Cat-Cow can be done right at your desk to dissolve tension.

How-to: Shift to the front edge of your chair, feeling your body weight on your sit bones. Slip off your shoes if possible, to feel the soles of your feet on the ground, and rest your palms on your thighs. On an inhalation, reach your tailbone toward the back of your chair, lengthen your spine into a backbend, and lift your gaze upward. On an exhalation, round your tailbone toward the front of your chair, curve your spine forward, and lower your gaze. Let the rocking motion soothe you for several rounds.

You can stretch your body at your desk to dissolve tension.

Subtle Pranayama

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a slow, deep, conscious breath. Dirga Pranayama (Three-Part Breath) is a simple yet potent practice to shift yourself out of a state of stress. This breathing technique can be used as needed—at your desk or in a meeting—to call in tranquility.

How-to: Feel your breath softly move in through your nose, filling your belly, ribcage, and chest. Exhale slowly through your nose, feeling your breath leave your belly, ribcage, and chest. Imagine emptying your breath completely. At the end of your exhale, pause and sink into the stillness of that moment. Feel the natural initiation of your next inhalation into your belly, ribcage, and chest. Repeat several times.

See also Yoga for Inner Peace: A Stress-Relieving Sequence + Daily Practice Challenge

Silent Mantra

Repeating a mantra—a sound, word, or phrase—can regulate breathing patterns and quiet an overactive mind. Perhaps your office isn’t the best environment to chant Om out loud, but you can still experience the benefits of a silent mantra.

How-to: Practice a few rounds of Three-Part Breath, letting your breath move in and out of your belly, ribcage, and chest. Then, invite the following mantra to join your breath. On an inhalation, think “breath in,” and on an exhalation, think “let go.” Silently repeat “breath in” on your inhalations and “let go” on your exhalations, allowing the words to ride the length of your inhale and exhale. Practice for several rounds.

Mindful Mudra

Mudras are hand gestures used to guide energy in the body. Dhyana Mudra (Meditation Seal) supports a calming energy. When you’re under pressure, lay your awareness on your hands. Softly bring them into this mudra to feel inner peace.

How-to: Sitting in a comfortable position, shape your hands to form a bowl in your lap with your palms facing upward. Rest your right hand on top of your left and allow the tips of your thumbs to touch. Notice how your body, mind, and energy feel, and enjoy this experience for any length of time.

Walking Meditation

Meditation is a practice of paying attention. Walking meditation involves paying attention to actions that you normally do automatically. When you consciously turn and return your attention to walking, you cultivate presence and drop into your calm center.

How-to: While you’re walking down the hall in your office building, notice one foot lifting, moving forward, and meeting the ground, heel first. Notice your body’s weight shifting onto your forward leg as your back heel lifts and your toes remain touching the ground. You might notice a coworker saying hello; perhaps make eye contact and smile. Then, return your attention to your feet moving, your weight shifting. Practice while walking to the bathroom or your favorite lunch spot.

See also Inside the ASMR Meditation People Are Calling a Brain Orgasm

About the Author
Megan DeRosa, MA, C-IAYT, RYT 500 is a Colorado-based yoga therapist. Learn more at meganderosa.com.

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6 Yoga Retreats to Help You Recover from a Bad Breakup

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Get some distance from the emotional landmines in your life while deepening your practice and feeding your soul on these magical post-breakup adventures.

Learn about these 6 yoga retreats for post-breakup healing.

Heartbreak is brutal. It doesn’t matter who did the breaking up, the end of a big relationship is devastating. Your body feels like it’s going through withdrawal (there is a reason it’s called heartbreak, after all), motivation hits rock-bottom, and though your friends and family are sympathetic, no one really seems to get it. Add a family and divorce and you might also be looking at big financial and legal messes, all while trying to keep it together in front of the kids.

But, there is an upside: All those raw feelings and jarring shifts can provide a solid starting point for some serious growth. That’s why the weeks and months after a breakup is a prime time to embark on that yoga retreat you’ve been meaning to take.

See also Healing Heartbreak: A Yoga Practice to Get Through Grief

Yoga is a secret weapon for the heartbroken. Not only does your practice give you a happy-boosting workout, but it also emphasizes patience, flexibility, and mindfulness—all traits that come in handy when charting a new path forward. These six retreats combine those ideas with gorgeous locations and groups of soul sisters (plus pro counseling sessions, adventure, cleansing ceremonies, massages, and spiritual healers) to turn your breakup into a breakthrough.

6 Yoga Retreats Perfect for Heartbreak 

About the Author
Stephanie Granada is a freelance writer and editor, who splits her time between Colorado, Miami, and NYC. 

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12 Easy Halloween Costume Ideas Perfect to Wear to Class Today

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Spiderman in Scandasana? Yes, please! Here are a dozen easy-to-throw-together Halloween costume ideas.

To dress up, or not to dress up: That is the question today. If you’ve spent weeks pulling together a complex getup, of course you’re showing up to class in costume. Yet if you like to roll more last-minute and are tempted to simply throw on a pair of bunny ears and call it a day, take a minute to scroll through this photo gallery first. From sweet to sassy to downright spooky, these costume ideas may inspire you to put together a thoughtful Halloween costume on the fly.

See also Green Halloween: 10 Eco-Friendly Candy Options

Yoga in Halloween Costumes

View the 12 images of this gallery on the original article

Want to participate? Post your picture on Instagram using the hashtag, #yogaween2018 for a chance to win Colleen Saidman Yee’s online course Yoga for Inner Peace.

See also 7 Spooky Halloween-Inspired Asanas

About the Author
Bridget “Bee” Creel is the editorial producer for Yoga Journal. She works as a yoga teacher in NYC and is the co-founder of the wellness community, Mood Room. 

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This Sequence Is Going to Make You Want to Practice With Your Mom

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Here’s how one yoga teacher’s relationship with her mother has evolved thanks to their shared yoga practice. Plus, a customizable sequence to inspire you to practice with your mom, too.

Here’s a yoga sequence you can practice with your mom.

My mom, Denise, started practicing yoga regularly in 1998. At the time, no one she knew was doing yoga yet, but she loved it and stuck to her Ashtanga practice. When I was in high school, she brought me to my first class, and I quickly fell in love—not only with the yoga, but also the fact that it was something we shared.

Fast forward more than a decade—and a transition to Vinyasa-style classes—and my mom and I have practiced next to or near one another thousands of times. We practice around the country, with other family members, even when inspiration for an impromptu session in my parents’ garden strikes. And it has made us close in some amazing ways. When she comes to a class I’m teaching, I get to adjust her and observe her beautiful practice. (She has the most impressive Revolved Triangle!). We also find ourselves talking about what yoga feels like off the mat; how this ancient practice we both love so much has shaped our lives. As we both get older, we talk about the fact that time has changed our bodies, our balance, our joints, our progress, and our struggles.

See also 5 Pillars of Finding a True Love Connection

Best of all, our shared yoga practice has given me the gift of being able to witness my mom’s strength and grace. Through the unique thread of our shared appreciation of yoga, our relationship has evolved so sweetly—through awareness, honesty, and mutual respect—and has made us true companions sharing the kind of inner journey yoga inspires.

I created this sequence to practice with my mom in the hopes that it might inspire you to practice with your own mom, dad, or family member. All of these poses can be held for shorter or longer than suggested, and the flow can be broken down pose by pose or even repeated with the breath multiple times. Have fun and encourage each other with steady breath and a joyful energy that’s sure to emerge as you practice together.

Try this yoga with mom sequence

About the Author
Christine Gagen is a yoga and Pilates teacher in Greenport, New York, and Miami, FL. Follow her on Instagram here.

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