Jobs are no cakewalk these days, even if you work at a confectionary.
Long hours with few breaks, stressful targets to achieve, and the peering eyes of your boss are just a few reasons working professionals are reporting more and more instances of work-related anxiety. If you have noticed, whenever you get agitated, angry or highly emotional the breathing becomes shallower and your reactions become less measured.
Breathing, while an involuntary action, can definitely be controlled and should be calm if one wants to get through the day with minimal stress.
Deep breathing helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, or PNS. This system is responsible for all the activities that happen in our body when it is at rest. It functions in a manner opposite to that of the sympathetic nervous system, which generally controls the primal instincts of fight-or-flight.
Doctors believe that by voluntarily changing the depth, pattern and rate of breathing you can change what signals are being sent to the brain. The breath, according to the yogis of old, is the vehicle of praan or the essential life force, we draw it in with every breath we take. Research even shows that changing the breathing pattern can help you access the autonomic communication network of the body, which can have powerful effects on ones thought, emotions and behaviour.
Here are some simple breathing exercises that are not time-consuming and yet very rewarding.
One of the easiest breathing exercises, sama vritti, or equal breathing is something you can do for a few minutes anywhere, be it at work, at home or even in the park.
To start, inhale for a count of four and exhale for the same count. Yogis were said to be able to increase this count by many minutes, but you can still aim for six to eight counts per breath. This exercise calms the nervous system, increases focus and reduces stress. If there’s any difficulty breathing, try this exercise before sleeping. It is very beneficial and effective.
This might sound a little challenging, but it is rather simple. Inhale slowly for five seconds, hold the breath in for three seconds and finally exhale slowly for four seconds. You may need a clock to ensure you are doing it for the right span of time, and do not try to unnecessarily prolong the duration. This exercise is known to keep yourself grounded in the present moment and help bring your panicked mind back on track. Try and hum a low sound when you are exhaling.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Nadi Shodhanam, or alternate nostril breathing, is considered to be one of the most potent relaxation techniques out there. It infuses a sense of calm and centred awareness in the individual when practised regularly.
To do this exercise, first sit comfortably. Hold your right thumb over the right nostril and inhale through your left. At the peak of the inhalation cut off the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale with your right nostril. Continue for a few minutes. People have reported feeling as if they have just had a coffee after doing this exercise. This is a good way to calm down and for balance. Try this before an important meeting or a sales pitch and see the difference in your performance.
One of the easiest breathing exercises that can be performed, abdominal breathing can help you reduce blood pressure and stress. To do this exercise, put one hand on your chest and another on your stomach.
Take six to ten breaths a minute, long and deep, enough to ensure that your lungs expand and stretch your diaphragm. Do not allow your chest to rise and fall, make sure you are breathing from your diaphragm. Doing this exercise for about ten minutes every day can cause a palpable difference in your heart rate as well as blood pressure and leave you feeling calm and relaxed. While it may be difficult to control your breath at first it will get easier with time.
Do not discount breathing as being merely an involuntary activity. As far as your well-being goes, how you breathe has a lot to do with it. So make sure you are breathing right every day and making the most of every breath you take.