Here is how the day looks for a working individual - wake up in the morning, rush to the toilet, wake kids up, catch a brisk walk (may be), have a shower, get a quick breakfast and into the car or the bike to head to work. Work until end of day, sitting on a chair and possibly changing chairs to go into meeting rooms. And when you get back home, you are back to spending time with family, doing homework, fixing dinner, catch up on news or books and wind down to bed.
Day after day we are back again in a roll. 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?
In the above routine, how many have you remembered to focus on your breath? I meant have you paid attention to your breath? As you continue to read this article, keep taking a few deep breaths till you reach the end of the article, while I proceed to explain the importance of breath.
'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 your 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 - from the food we eat, water, air 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 showing ailments in various parts of our body. The ailments can be as simple as a stress, headache, and joint pain and then possibly build up to more serious diseases. The study of toxins is a vast topic, but this will give you an idea about it.
Are you aware of how the impurities in the gold are removed? Heating gold by in the 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.
The Yoga Sutras 2:53, of Patanjali says - "Dharanasu cha yogyata manasah" – “The mind becomes fit for concentration, when you practice pranayama everyday.
I wanted to share a personal story. I am a yoga practitioner and have been practicing yoga 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 - Life got more demanding at work with new people joining work and with summer vacations on a roll, I had no time for an 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 everyday, got me super fit mentally and physically to handle the pressure of work and home. And the best part, I still had a lot of energy to prep dinner at home and spend time with family.
All I did was practice 30-minute pranayama for 30 days. In addition I included pranayama as I sat on my work desk and in the car when I travelled. My body felt light and relaxed.
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; body will feel lean and strong. In addition, the appetite becomes clean and lean and you will eat only what you body requires.
- The more you practice, your nadis (nasal passages) becomes clean, open up and is able to take in the oxygen needed to push it into the bloodstream.
- There are many more benefits that build and strengthen the internal health of the body. Which you will experience as you get into a practice and discipline.
Making Pranayam a Discipline
My first answer is everyday. 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 that will intern lead to spiritual mind.
Set aside a 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 at yoga videos on YouTube and it can get you started.
The advantage when you learn it from a teacher, is that, they will be able to help you breathe correctly.
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 back 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.