Post-work decompression techniques for busy people

A daily full body relaxation practice that you can try at home to reduce stress and reset.

A daily full body relaxation practice that you can try at home to reduce stress and reset.

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Stress is often related to our perception of time. If we are pressed for time, we feel stressed. When we take time off or vacation, we create space which gives us the perception of more time in the day to help us mentally relax and unwind.

Many emotional states determine how we perceive time and space. If we are happy and relaxed, we can feel like we have all the time in the world. If we are stressed, we can feel like we have no time and become irritable with very little mental space or personal time to give. When we do something we love, we feel free, inspired or expansive and time moves quickly, but if we do something we dislike, we feel constricted, inhibited and time seems to drag into dismal eternity. It is not the time that makes us feel stressed or happy, it is the perception of how much space we have.

Emotions, time and space are intrinsically connected, so if we want to decompress, the key is that we need to create the perception of more mental space which makes us feel like we have more time. The perception of more time means we can mentally and emotionally relax and reset. So, when we are ready to work, we can then return rested with enthusiasm, focus, productivity, and efficiency.

Here's how.

The psychosomatic combination between the body and the breath creates harmonization of our mind, emotions and thought patterns. This means that we can access our emotional states and mental states through specific breathing and movement sequences. When our emotional states change; we laugh, we cry, or we are afraid, our breathing patterns also change. So, if we change our breath pattern, our emotional and mental state alters in kind.

This is a premise of yoga and pranayama (life force extension or breath control) but here we don't have to bend over backwards (literally) to decompress, we just need to synch our breath and movement in a relaxed way to change our emotional state and create mental space. The result is decompression, a system reset and the feeling of mental clarity and relaxation.

Here is a simple and quick four-part full body practice that is traditionally used to re-establish the communication between our mind, body, breath and emotions, helping our system to synchronize and operate cohesively.

Kaya Kriya

In the Sanskrit language of yoga, kaya means body and kriya means internal cleansing action. This kriya attunes the breath with the body in specific sequences to change how we feel by engaging our parasympathetic system to bring calm to our emotions and clear the mind.  This practice will include three different types of breathing and four parts. All four parts must be practiced consecutively for this kriya to be effective. Do not try only a select part of this kriya to practice on its own. The breath should always be in coordination with the movement of the body as described below. This coordination will help to reconnect the communication and ease between the mind, body and emotions to bring unity and equanimity to our thinking, action and overall being. This brings us into a state of symbiosis and deep relaxation. The breath should be deep, slow and long with an equal count of six on the inhale and six on the exhale.

Preparation

Begin by lying down on a yoga mat or carpeted floor in a comfortable position. Set the intention that you are not going to fall asleep. Gently draw attention to your regular breathing pattern.

Part one

For this portion of the practice, you will be inhaling and exhaling from the lower abdominal region.  

(Photography courtesy of Nancy Ribeiro)
(Photography courtesy of Nancy Ribeiro)

Place your legs about one or two feet apart.

Place your arms comfortably down by your side with palms facing upward.

Inhale slowly and deeply into the lower abdominal region, while turning your toes inward so that you feel your big toes moving in toward the ground between your feet. The big toes will face each other or touch upon full rotation.

Exhale slowly from the lower abdominal region, while turning your toes outward until your small toes touch the floor and the lower limbs are externally rotated.

Repeat with the synchronized breath for 5-9 rounds. After this practice take a few gentle breaths and lay still.

Part two

For this section of the practice, you will be inhaling and exhaling from the mid-chest region

(Photography courtesy of Nancy Ribeiro)
(Photography courtesy of Nancy Ribeiro)

Place your legs together, heels on the floor. Arms are alongside the body, palms facing up.

Inhale deeply and slowly while rotating the arms outward on the ground in a rolling action, extending the thumbs out toward the floor.

Exhale while slowly rolling arms inwards on the ground, thumbs rotating in toward your thighs. The thumbs may touch the thighs at the peak of the internal rotation.

Repeat with the synchronized breath for 5-9 rounds. After this practice take a few gentle breaths and lay still.

Part three

For this section of the practice, you will be inhaling and exhaling from the upper chest region.

(Photography courtesy of Nancy Ribeiro)

Inhale deeply into the upper chest, expanding the chest open as you roll your head to the right.

Exhale as you slowly roll your head to centre.

Inhale deeply as you slowly roll your head to the left side.

Exhale as your roll your head to cenre.

Repeat slowly for 5-9 rounds. After this practice take a few regular gentle breaths and lay still.

Part four

This section will be a combination of all three steps above. Remember to pay attention to the breath sequence. Without the synchronization of the breath, it is not a kriya.

(Photography courtesy of Nancy Ribeiro)

Begin inhaling into the abdomen and roll the feet inward.

Continuing inhaling into the mid-chest and roll the arms outward.

Complete the inhalation into the upper chest and roll head to right side.

Begin to exhale or release the abdominal breath and roll the feet outward.

Continue exhaling from the middle chest and roll the arms inward until the thumbs touch the thighs.

Complete the exhalation, breathing into the upper chest and roll the head from the right to the left.

Repeat slowly for 9 rounds. After this practice, take a few regular gentle breaths and lay still for a few minutes.

Roll onto the right side, take a few breaths and come up to sitting.


Nicole Mahabir is the Founder and Director of JAI Wellness, a platform for health education, mindful living and wellbeing. For the past 10 years, Nicole has lead professional certified programs, teaching Nutrition, Meditation, Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy and Natural Anti-Ageing Beauty Regimes. When she isn't teaching, Nicole creates integrated, sustainable health protocols for her busy clients and leads corporate and wellness retreats. Follow Nicole on Instagram @jaiwellness or on her website, jaiwellness.com.