Life Yoga is a yoga and wellness space located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. We pride ourselves on our passion, our professionalism, and the authentic relationships we create with those who practice in the studio. Our knowledgeable teachers love what they do and value the experiences of every member of our online community. Our hope is that this blog will inspire, teach, and support practitioners on their yogic journeys through loving, giving, and serving.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Stressed on the job? We can work it out!
Yoga on your mat is not simply 60 minutes of peace and relaxation. The reason that we practice on our mat is to learn techniques that we can use as we practice yoga in the world. For example, for people who find themselves overwhelmed with stress on the job, yoga can be hugely helpful in shifting the way they react to stress. Yoga teaches you to tune in to what your body is telling you and to act accordingly. With practice, this awareness will spread into other areas of your life, including your work.
Stress is not out of your control. Choosing to feel stress is just that - a choice. Should you choose the emotion of stress how you perceive and react to it determines how it will affect your health. That’s where yoga comes in. Imagine holding Downward Facing Dog so long that your mind starts screaming, ‘I want to come down now! My arms are tired!’, but if your teacher tells you to hold the asana a little longer, you find the strength to do it. At that point, you realize that you don’t have to respond to every urge you feel. At other times, when your body says it needs to come down, the best thing to do is come out of Downward Facing Dog and find Child’s Pose. Yoga teaches you to tune in to what your body is telling you and to act accordingly. With practice, this awareness will spread into other areas of your life, including your work. As you learn to separate the urge to act from the reaction, you begin to find that something like a canceled meeting or having a last-minute project handed to you may not rattle you as much as it once did.
Of course, there’s more to yoga than just the asanas, or postures. The principles from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras act as guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life. A good understanding of the eight limbs can strengthen your understanding of yourself; it can allow you to make the choice to be in less stressful circumstances. While this insight might lead you to realize that you’re in the wrong job altogether, the yamas and niyamas that form the first and second limbs can also help you overcome the difficulties that led to your stress in the first place.
For example, one of the niyamas, self-study (svadhyaya), can help you understand what triggers your negative moods, so you can avoid those situations at work. The yamas and niyamas can help in more mundane ways, as well: cleanliness (saucha) can help you get your desk in order and not double-book your calendar; surrender (ishvara pranidhana) can teach you that you can’t control everything. But, the main reason for reflecting on these principles is to know yourself more deeply, so you can design your days in a way that suits you. If you know you get exhausted by long amounts of time toiling in artificial light and stale office air, for instance, you might approach your boss about working from home one day a week. At a minimum, make a point of going outside for a walk before tackling an afternoon of back-to-back deadlines.
As your asana practice teaches, some days, you can easily modify - make an uncomfortable or unsafe situation healthy and fun for yourself; other times, it’s necessary to know yourself well enough to understand that it’s time to back off and take a break until you reconnect with your breath.
Modified from “Stop Stressing at Work”; Daily insights from The Yoga Journal