Work productivity can reduce due to multiple reasons — having a poor manager, not feeling a connection with your workplace and its values, or the work, in general. While there are some remedial measures like feedback, and open communication that can help, it may take time before the changes are actually reflected.
That is where our personal philosophy, stress management skills, and ability to cope with tough situations can come into play. Yoga is an empowering practice that can help you manage stress because it integrates three aspects of health and wellness – body, breath, and mind.
Here are a few yoga techniques that are exceptionally helpful in coping with stress.
Moderate levels of aerobic exercises are great for mental health, and sun salutations are perfect for that. When practised with the correct breathing pattern, for 6-12 rounds, they help relieve tension, elevate mood, and boost energy, too.
Balance on one leg
Single leg balances like tree pose, warrior III, or dancer’s pose help improve balance and stability. The simple act of balancing requires a tremendous amount of coordination between the brain, senses, and muscular system. They are also considered a critical indicator of brain health. So, make single-leg balances a part of your daily routine.
Postures that stretch the back muscles are considered cooling in Ayurveda, and soothing for those feeling overly stressed, frustrated, or angry. These include forward bends like Child Pose, Cow Pose, Dandasana, Seated/standing/wide-legged forward folds, and wind relieving pose. You can hold these for longer periods of time 1-2 minutes, as per your capacity, as long as you don’t have any lower back discomfort.
Stretching out the upper back and shoulders is great for posture and also helps you breathe better. Once your lungs are not restricted by tight muscles, it makes you feel more energised. A slumped posture impacts alertness, makes you feel low on energy, and more prone to making mistakes. Poses are Cobra, Locust, Camel, Crescent Lunge, Cat-Cow, and Cow-face can help you in developing an upright posture.
Wring it out
Twisting poses are also good for the posture as they stretch and lengthen the spine, restoring some of its range of motion and stimulating circulation. Traditionally, twisting poses are considered special in yoga as they energise the spine, which is the house of our nervous system, and also stimulate the GI tract. In fact, a latest research has found strong links between gut health and verbal learning and memory. Some good twisting postures are Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, Reclined Supine Twist, and Revolved Low Lunge
Breathe out the stress
Your yoga practice would be incomplete without pranayama and meditation, because that’s when we start shifting our focus away from the body and towards the mind. One of the most effective breathing techniques is to double the length of your exhalation. It calms down the nervous system and clears the mind for better decision-making. If you’re just starting, explore Sectional Breathing, which is immensely relaxing and also corrects your breathing pattern. This simple intervention can enhance productivity and creativity. All you need to do is dedicate at least 10-15 mins a day for breath-work.
Sit still and do nothing
Meditation has the power to transform your mind, quite literally. Regular meditation has shown decreased emotional reactivity, better learning and memory, reduced stress, more kindness and compassion, and of course improved focus and concentration. Mantra-based meditations, visualisation, and affirmations are all very helpful for improving productivity.
Meditation is simply the most powerful tool to improve your work productivity and sharpen your cognitive skills. However, it can often be difficult to simply sit and meditate, which is why it helps to practice Sun Salutations, a mix of yoga poses and breathing exercises. They help prepare the body and mind to have a more productive and fulfilling meditation session. But on days you really need to clear your mind and don’t have enough time – pick any one of the seven interventions that you intuitively feel most drawn to. Give it at least 5-7 minutes of practice. Because it is regular and consistent practice, not the intensity that helps you unlock the power of yoga.
The author is Yoga and Ayurveda Lifestyle Specialist, and founder, Yoganama