How To Use Pranayama Breathing to Reduce Stress and Boost Productivity at Work
Are you feeling stuck at work?
We’ve all been there. The computer is taking too long to load a document. The printer is jammed and nobody can seem to fix it. Your coworker keeps taking your stapler and you’re tired of it. Maybe you’re just feeling sluggish and can’t focus on the task at hand.
Any number of these office distractions is frustrating, to say the least. And they are a major time suck that could be better spent.
How would you like to be more productive, more energized, and more relaxed at work?
While we can’t stop your coworker from wandering over to your desk, we can offer a way to help you de-stress and re-focus on your projects—all in 5 minutes or less. It’s called pranayama breathing.
You need to breathe to survive.
You need it so much that, like a heartbeat, your body is programmed to simply do it automatically. You don’t need to think every time you breathe (thank goodness)—most of the time it just happens without you even noticing it.
Until now, that is.
You know how people tell you to “breathe easy” or to “take a deep breath” when your stressed out or angry? Though it might be annoying to hear in the moment, it is actually a really good tactic for controlling stress (and your emotions in general). As Sue Doucette, fitness instructor and yoga teacher, writes on Livestrong.com:
“During a perceived stressful or dangerous situation, the sympathetic nervous system goes into fight or flight, triggering the adrenal glands to secrete the hormones that increase blood pressure and heart rate. [T]he parasympathetic nervous system works in conjunction with the sympathetic nervous system, triggering...a relaxation response. Breathing deeply and mindfully helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to trigger this response.”
In other words, when your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive, your parasympathetic system sends out a huge flow of signals to counteract this—a move that allows you to think more clearly in your fight or flight mode. When you breathe deeply, you only help these stress-reducing hormones do their work.
What if we told you that you could harness the power of this life force to help you be more productive and laser-focused?
Well, we’re telling you that you can. And it’s through the use of pranayama breathing.
What is pranayama breathing?
Pranayama breathing is the act of deliberately controlling our breath. There are a number of different pranayama poses and exercises, but at the base of them all is the practice of taking a few moments to sit back and focus on your inhalations and exhalations.
How does it improve your work life?
Johann Berlin, CEO of TLEX Institute, has had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of business leaders around the world, both as a coach and a friend.
Instead of struggling to push through a difficult moment at work, he’s found that the people who are the most productive are the ones who “create gaps in their busy schedules to restore and replenish.”
Wanna know the most common practice he’s noticed among clients and friends to rest and recharge?
You guessed it: conscious breathing.
He then even goes on to explain how to do pranayama breathing exercises...though he doesn’t call it that by name.
This breathing exercise gives you 5 minutes to recharge your batteries so you can delve back into your work full-force.
How do you do it?
Sit in a comfortable position in a quiet place, whether it’s at your desk or in a secluded corner. You might want to have your phone or a stopwatch next to you. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Keep your left hand in your lap. Raise your right hand to your nose, placing your thumb on the right side of your nose and your ring finger on the left.
Close your eyes. Plug the right side of your nose with your thumb and breathe in through the left nostril. At the top of the breath, hold it for a second.
Plug your left nostril and release the right one. Breathe out through the right nostril while the left one is securely closed. At the bottom of the breath hold for a second.
Now breathe in through your right nostril while firmly holding your left one closed. At the top of the breath hold for one second.
Now close your right nostril and open your left, breathing out through the left side of your nose.
Repeat this process until the timer goes off, alternating nostrils the whole time.
Need a video demonstration? Check out this clip:
There you have it—it’s as simple as that!
Pranayama breathwork will help you bust stress and re-focus on what’s important at work.
If you’re looking to really de-stress, why not check out the awesome Yoga and Pranayama class at The Conscious Club?