For the first 19 years of my life I didn’t enjoy exercise — that is until I found my yoga practice sophomore year of college. After discovering the free classes on campus, I was hooked. Never before did I want to be moving my body, yet here I was attending every class I could.
With yoga, not only did I experience the benefits of exercise, but I also felt more confident in my day-to-day life. I’d not yet shown myself that I was capable of accomplishing my goals by showing up. With each class — and a little willpower — I learned a new pose or overcame a new obstacle, which taught me that I can do hard things. This lesson has literally gotten me to where I am today — whether that’s improving my golf game or advancing my career.
From helping to relieve low back pain to lowering your resting heart rate, the benefits of a consistent yoga practice seem to be endless, especially for us desk sitters. This is largely because the essence of yoga is linking breath to movement. Not only do you get the benefits of moving your body but also the benefits of breath awareness, which can include increasing energy levels, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep quality and much more.
Yet, since the beginning of the pandemic, the majority of people working from home have drastically reduced the amount of physical activity we are getting each day, according to a recent UCSF study. With commutes shifting from walking one mile from the bus stop to the office to walking 10 steps from the bedroom to the kitchen, carving out time for physical activity has become essential with remote work — easier said than done, I know.
Our in-office yoga sessions were yet another casualty of COVID, but over time we realized we missed them — and really needed them. So, like our jobs, we shifted to remote. Twice a month, I teach a yoga class for the Branigan team over Zoom, focusing on breathwork and poses that help release low-back and hip tension. The goal is to offer space to destress, focus on being present and help realign the body, as most of us are hunched over our computers during the day.
The benefits off the mat go well beyond just open hips and better posture. I’ve continued to hear the feedback that those taking my class feel “more rejuvenated and actually more productive the rest of the day.”
So, from the seat of the yogi and from the seat of the teacher, my advice is let go of the tension, calm your mind and keep breathing — you’ll feel better and work better, too!