Here is how the day looks for a working parent--wake up in the morning, rush to the toilet, wake kids up, catch a brisk walk (perhaps), have a shower, grab a quick breakfast and into the car to head to work. Work until end of day, sitting on a chair, or at most walking from one chair to another one in a meeting room. Get back home, catch up with family, do homework, fix dinner, catch up on news or read a book and wind down to bed.
Rinse and repeat the next day, the day after that, and on and on....
That's how a typical day looks for a person who is trying to balance life and work. Do you feel the stress and exhaustion?
As you read this article, keep taking a few deep breaths, even as I explain the importance of doing so.
In the above routine, how many have you remembered to focus on your breath? Paid attention to your breathing? As you read this article, keep taking a few deep breaths, even as I explain the importance of doing so.
'Prana' or breath is what makes us. It is the life force, which brings in energy into our body, purifies our blood and helps gets our body rid of toxins. This life force in scientific terms is oxygen. When you do consciously practice breathing, it is called pranayama. And I believe there is no action greater than pranayama that can help purify the blood and the mind.
What are toxins?
A toxin is anything that damages the body. The food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe or even the lifestyle we lead can build and accumulate toxins. These toxins get mixed into the blood and get stored in various nooks and corners of our body.
Over a period of time, when toxins build up, they start presenting as ailments in various parts of our body. The ailments can be as simple as a stress, headaches and joint pain and then possibly build up to more serious diseases.
The study of toxins is a vast topic, but the following example will give you an idea about the process.
Are you aware of how the impurities in the gold are removed? It's done by heating gold in a hot furnace and blowing the blowpipe does it. Similarly with the practice of pranayama we activate our lungs by blowing oxygen in and out of it consciously and which in turn help in removing the toxins and purifying our blood.
Yoga Sutra 2:53, of Patanjali says - "Dharanasu cha yogyata manasah" -The mind becomes fit for concentration, when you practice pranayama everyday.
This extra oxygen we pump into your lungs and blood stream, helps relieve stress, calms the nerves, the mind and keeps the body feeling cool and supple.
Here's a personal story. I am a yoga practitioner--I have been practicing for the past 20 years. In the recent past with the business expanding there are times when I have not had time for a walk or a good cardio workout, and not had time to practice yoga asanas.
The past month is a classic example. Work got more demanding with new people joining and I had no time to exercise in the daily hustle bustle. But there was one thing I made sure I took time out for and that's pranayama. A 30-minute pranayama every day (I also practiced it through the day when I sat on my work desk or travelled by car) got me super-fit mentally and physically and helped me handle the pressures of work and home. And the best part is that I still had a lot of energy to prep dinner at home and spend time with family.
The benefits Of pranayama
- Pranayama helps strengthen the lungs. We need to keep our lungs strong and fit to be able to breathe with ease.
- This extra oxygen we pump into your lungs and blood stream, helps relieve stress, calms the nerves, the mind and keeps the body feeling cool and supple.
- When you continue the practice for years, your skin will be youthful; your body will feel lean and strong. In addition, the appetite becomes balanced, and you will eat only what your body requires.
- The more you practice, the more your nadis (nasal passages) open up, are cleansed and are able to take in the oxygen needed.
- There are many more benefits that build and strengthen the internal health of the body. These become evident as you get into a practice and discipline. Plenty of scientific studies now back the efficacy of pranayama.
Making pranayama a discipline
You must practice pranayama every day. Start with 10 minutes a day and increase it to 20 and then go up to an hour. When you practice pranayama for more than hour you will get into a meditative state where you will find yourself battling with your internal self, resolving issues in your everyday life. Eventually, you will reach a state of calm and spiritual peace.
You must practice pranayama every day. Start with 10 minutes a day and increase it to 20 and then go up to an hour.
Set aside a particular time of the day to practice pranayama. Then over a period of time, become aware of your breath at work--while typing an email, coding, making a presentation or even while driving. It's not difficult; you will be amazed at how you feel.
If you are unaware of the various pranayama practices, then get help from a yoga teacher and get started. If you find it hard to get help, look up yoga videos on YouTube.
The advantage when you learn it from a teacher is that they will be able to help you breathe correctly and check you when you don't do it the prescribed way.
So go ahead, start today, this very moment, practice deep breathing as you read this article and continue as you proceed with doing other work.
If you started or plan to start pranayama after you read this article, come back and write back to me on how a simple deep breathing practice helped you. I would love to hear from you If you already practice pranayama, comment here and let people know the benefits of it.
Pranayama is a great tool that will help in your work and life to balance it all in a less stressful way. Give it a try and take charge of your mental and physical health.
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