November 19, 2013

Obsessive Yogi & Worker Bee: Finding Balance. ~ Firdous Abdul Majeed

Let’s get real: Most of us can’t afford to kick off our day jobs and devote our lives to the mat.

Let’s also accept that our day job keeps us comfortable.

Sometimes on the way to work, sitting in the bus, sitting in the car, waiting in traffic or looking at the stranger cross the road, we ask:

Where am I going? Why am I not on the mat?

At work, we look at the wall in front of us, the glass door and open space, and imagine our mat placed against it, slowly moving into dolphin and legs kicking up into headstand.

Then the phone rings on the desk and a voice says:

“Hi. The social media consultant is on the line for you. Shall I connect him?”

Sigh. That was a dream.

“Yes, please.”

I have an hour long meeting telling the person on the phone why his strategy won’t work and how he hasn’t followed our guidelines over and over again. Then I pack my bag and get ready to head to my yoga class from work, driving like a maniac to make it in time.

I get there and transform into tights and dry-fit mode. I’m waiting to say hi to my hamstrings, come really close to the ground in chaturanga and let my heart open in upward facing dog.

The obvious down side to sitting at a desk for a bunch of hours is something no enthusiastic yogi likes feeling, that sensation of “stuck”. The body is in one position all day and we don’t get enough time or flexibility through the week to stick to a certain routine with diet, or green smoothies, or a run at four p.m. in the park. But let’s look at how we can counter the side effects of this hybrid life physically and mentally in five simple steps:

1. Remember proper posture.

At work we have a lot of idle time behind a desk. Our body is still and our hands move. Try to take your awareness  to your back and your posture. Sit up straight. Push your butt into the seat and spread your back against the back of the chair. Basically, sit upright.

2. Plenty of deep, belly breathing.

Breathe in deep into your belly before and especially after meals. This will help you digest easier. Kapalbhaati would be ideal but it sometimes scares people around the office.

3. Stay active.

If you have a tendency to feel heavy or sleepy after lunch, don’t sit as soon as you finish your meal. Walk around for a bit, stroll from one end of your workplace to the other at a medium pace for at least 10 to 15 minutes to let the food settle. (And let that gas out. )

4. Drink tea.

Drink two cups of hot green tea throughout the day. Tulsi green tea is my personal favorite!

5. Get a massage at least once a month.

You need to let your shoulders relax if you are stuck to the computer all day. Get a deep tissue massage, or a shoulder-neck-back massage at a good spa. It makes a huge difference to how you feel. It plays a huge part in taking care of yourself. A good massage is not always cheap and might involve spending more than you would like, but taking care of yourself is worth it. Be considerate to your body and make relaxation a priority.

Balancing work and a healthy lifestyle is difficult. You will face moments of frustration and anger with yourself. Thoughts like “I suck” or “I am fat and unhealthy,” may cross your mind. But when that happens you always have grand old Patanjali’s sutra:

Pratipaksha Bhavanam: replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, until it eventually becomes a default habit.

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Assistant Ed: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Bryonie Wise

{photo via: Kristina Peterson}

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