Working from home is on its way to becoming the new norm. Not having to leave the house to make an income is fantastic because it saves you so much time you would otherwise ‘lose’ getting ready for work and commuting.
However, when you’re not obliged to leave the house or meet people, your physical activity and mental health can take a major dip.
Yoga and meditation are the perfect pair to help you take care of your work from home wellbeing. They are also an outstanding use of the extra time you have now. Improved focus and productivity are just a couple of amazing ‘side effects’ that come with regular practice.
What are the benefits of yoga?
The physical practice of yoga, known as ‘asana’, offers a great opportunity to loosen up and increase mobility in areas that become stiff from long hours of sitting.
Different types of yoga practise can improve muscular and joint flexibility, heart health, and reduce chronic inflammation, which is linked to the development of cancer, arthritis, asthma, and diabetes among other diseases.
During an asana session, practitioners are encouraged to breathe chiefly through the nose. This is excellent training for people who breathe through their mouth, during the day, and when they are asleep. Mouth breathing is associated with bad breath and gum disease.
In addition, some yoga classes may include ‘pranayama’, which is widely regarded as breathing exercises, although it has a deeper meaning on an energetic level. Pranayama has been scientifically proven to enhance lung function even in people with pulmonary and heart issues.
Yoga also draws the attention of many who deal with chronic stress and anxiety because it is famed for promoting relaxation and peace. Although most scientific research looking at these benefits of yoga has a humble number of participants, almost anyone who has regularly practised yoga will confirm this.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation also boasts an array of evidence-backed benefits such as improved mood, memory, and focus. It is easy to imagine how these can have a positive effect on your work quality and productivity.
Furthermore, meditation helps you deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. This is why meditation is suitable for anyone, whether they are working from home or not. With health-related fears, social distancing, travel limitations, market volatility, and increased uncertainty in almost any area of life, everyone can use a little more peace of mind.
How can I learn yoga and meditation at home?
It has never been more accessible to learn yoga at home and for free. There are thousands of YouTube videos for every level and you can ease into the practice with 5 to 15-minute classes. As you progress and find more joy in doing yoga, you might gradually increase the time you dedicate to it.
The same goes for learning meditation at home. There are numerous guided meditations you can follow while seated on the floor, in a chair, or even lying in your bed. You can also use an app that teaches you and helps you move forward. Meditation can be as simple as setting a timer and focusing on your breath until the timer goes off.
Ever since the pandemic, many teachers who used to only teach in studios, now offer their yoga and meditation classes online.
If you would rather have the support and guidance of a teacher who sees you and is available to answer your questions, this is a better alternative for you. When you are a beginner, there is immense value in learning how to safely enter poses and how to have the right attitude towards the practice.
How can I incorporate yoga and meditation into my daily routine?
There are different theories that support doing meditation and any sort of physical activity at a specific time of the day. For most people, though, the main concern is not what time of the day they work out at. It is a matter of whether they take any time for training and mindfulness at all.
It is always easiest to start the day with a sound morning routine because this way you ensure you take the time for self-care. If you have no plan at all, you are very likely to just push the activities until later in the day until it becomes too late to do anything.
Many prefer to work out and meditate after work to de-stress and have a mental barrier between their work from home and their free time at home. This is also an option, as long as you actually find the time for yourself after work rather than choosing to lounge or mindlessly watch a movie.
Can I do yoga and meditation during the workday?
The best way to reap the numerous benefits of yoga and meditation is to be consistent in your practice.
This is why a routine is essential. Even 10 minutes a day can make all the difference thanks to the compound effect.
Nevertheless, yoga and meditation can provide you with a nice break from work at any time of the day. Breath deeply and intentionally for three minutes or do some yoga stretches while sitting in your chair.
Making the first step towards a yoga and meditation routine
Here are a few steps you can follow right now to release the tension in your neck and shoulders, and feel calmer:
- Exhale moving the head down, chin to collarbone. Inhale, slowly move the head back, feel the stretch in your neck. Repeat this a few times, synchronising your movement with the breath.
- Inhale in the centre, exhale the left ear goes towards the left shoulder. Inhale back to the centre, exhale to the right side. Repeat this movement slowly. You can also hold the position with the neck tilted to one side or the other for a few seconds.
- Do very gentle neck rolls. Inhale down and to one side, when you reach back with the head start exhaling until you make a full circle. Do several movements in each direction, going slower than what you think is correct. If there is a pain in a certain area, stop and breathe into it, using the exhale to release the tension.
- Do several shoulder rolls forward, and then backwards.
- Stretch your hands over your head and clasp your fingers, palms facing up. On the inhale, extend yourself as if somebody is pulling you upward. On the exhale, bend to one side and hold. Inhale back to the centre, stretch up, exhale to the other side. Repeat this several times.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Follow the air as it travels down to the belly on the inhale, and as it goes back up on the exhale. Let no breath go unnoticed. When you’re ready, slowly blink your eyes open and stay motionless for a few seconds before going back to your work duties.
Yes, yoga and meditation can be that easy. There is no need to push yourself too hard or set high expectations. Enjoy these small moments of peace that bring more harmony into your life.
Eva Milano is a travelling yoga teacher and freelance writer at All Things Hair. She loves sharing the techniques and knowledge that have helped improve her health and wellbeing so others can also benefit from them.