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Feeling Stressed at the Office? Calm Down with These Pranayama Techniques

By The Yoga School / June 8, 2020

Find your equilibrium, breath by breath.

As some of us return to the office this month, we might encounter a boss who assigns unrealistic deadlines, moments of friction with colleagues, or perhaps an important project that runs into unexpected speed bumps.

When frustration, anger, sadness, and self-doubt begin to set in, we might start to feel our heart race, a throbbing pain between our ears, or perhaps even lose our appetite for lunch.

After months of working from home, we suddenly find ourselves in a situation where we’re back at the office and dealing with stressful situations – but without the option to retreat to our safe harbour.

While we’re physically unable to step into familiar spaces that bring us comfort, we can, however, turn to our yoga practice to cope with these stressful situations.

Here, pranayama, or conscious deep breathing, can help to open up the sinuses, let more air into the body, and calm our nervous system. For centuries, yoga has noted the connection between the breath or vital energy (prana) and consciousness (citta); observing that when prana moves, citta also moves. When prana remains still, citta stays put. In this manner, when prana is steady, the yogi remains steadfast. The breath then becomes an instrument that can help to modulate your temperament and calm you down when stress levels rise.

Some yogis who keep a regular pranayama practice will also notice that over time, their breathing becomes slower, serving as a natural relaxant in a world that moves at a breathless pace.

The next time you find yourself battling a stressful situation, find a moment to practise the pranayama techniques below.

Sama Vritti Pranayama (Equal Breath)

This simple, silent practice can be done while you’re seated at your desk.

  1. Gently direct your attention towards your breath. Feel your breath move through your body with every inhale and exhale. You may also choose to direct your focus to a specific area, such as your nose or belly.
  2. After a few moments, mentally count to four as you inhale through your nose. Pause briefly. Thereafter, exhale through your nose as you count to four silently.

Sitali Pranayama and Sitkari Pranayama (Cooling Breath and Hissing Breath)

As its name suggests, the cooling breath is useful for minimising a hot temper. If you’re conscious about being observed by your co-workers, find a quiet spot in your office where you can practise in private.

  1. To begin, draw a few deep breaths into your belly, form an “O” shape with your lips, and fold your tongue through the opening. At this point, your tongue will resemble a straw. Use it to suck in the air.
  2. After your in-breath, retract your tongue, close your lips, and exhale through your nose.
  3. Continue to inhale and exhale in this manner for five minutes.

Brahmari Pranayama (Bee Breath)

The healing vibrations of this practice are especially useful for relieving stress.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. As you exhale, make a deep humming sound that mimics the buzzing of bees. Try to focus on creating humming sounds from your belly and chest. Don’t force your ‘buzzing’ breath but rather let it fade gently and naturally.
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