happy ethnic woman sitting at table with laptop

No pretzel pose. Promise.

There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness and being present at the moment. As good as our intentions are, it can be challenging to practice mindfulness while surrounded by colleagues, incoming calls, emails, and meetings, even working remotely, which brings its set of worries.

That’s when yoga, with its entrenched practice of deep breathing, comes into play.

Yoga has several significant benefits for men and women who practice it. The many benefits of practicing yoga include improvements in balance and body control, improved fitness and toning, better metabolism, body composition, and faster weight loss. And it is my go-to practice when stressing out at work with writing deadline pilling up! I am not talking about twisting my body into a pretzel in front of coworkers or the stock room but about controlled breathing.

man in yellow protective suit stretching
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A marked improvement in breathing control is another big benefit of practicing yoga. Unlike many other forms of exercise, proper breathing is an integral part of the practice of yoga. For that reason, men and women who practice yoga often experience a marked increase in lung capacity and breathing ability. Part of that improvement is no doubt due to the rise in overall fitness, but the breathing exercises specific to the practice of yoga play a role as well.

“If you breathe correctly, your mind will calm down,” said to a New York Times, Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College.

senior man drinking hot beverage while sitting at table with books
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Healthy Lungs – Healthy Lives-Happier Work environment

Your lungs provide a vital function, and keeping them healthy is a big part of why we exercise. When we take a cardio class or embark on a long bike ride, we make our lungs work harder, which in turn helps them grow stronger. Over time, this increase in lung capacity and performance improves stamina, increases fitness, and makes us feel better overall.

Back to work and mindfulness.

So, sit in your desk chair, place your hands on your knees, close your eyes, fill your lungs with air, hold it for two seconds and very slowly release the air. Repeat for a few minutes, then sit for another and notice how your body feels, your head, your eyes, your shoulder, look around you and see how the world seems to have slow down. Enjoy.

The great thing about this relaxation trick is that you can practice it multiple times a day at work. Nobody will notice, but  you may get comments about “how chilled you are these days.”  

One of the best things about deep breathing exercises in yoga is that anyone can perform them. So share this trick with others at work. It does not matter how fit you currently are or what your current state of health may be. Deep breathing exercises can be performed by the very healthy – the people in tip-top shape, but they can also be part of a sensible rehabilitation plan for the very sick. In fact, many doctors recommend yoga classes for people who have suffered lung damage. The deep breathing exercises help stimulate the lungs and build breathing capacity, while the other yoga exercises help build confidence and overall fitness.