3 workplace exercises: for a healthy body, on all levels

Humans were not built to sit at a desk for long hours or stare into an LED-filled screen. We know this, but it is the reality of modern life for many of us.

We seek to balance this somewhat unhealthy practice, with physical exercise, improving our physical health in our free time. However, it is not just our physical bodies that need exercise and balance; what about our mental, emotional, and energetic bodies? There are more levels of the body than just the physical.

Using techniques that have been around since ancient times, developed throughout the history of yoga, we can improve health on all levels of our body. This can help us increase our energy level, balance emotions, improve concentration, and regulate sleeping, among many other benefits.

We will practice 3 short exercises, taking about 3 minutes each. One Pranayama; breathing exercise, one Kriya; detoxification and purification technique, and one Bandha; energising exercise for organs and glands.

Pranava Pranayama

Execution: Sit in a chair or on the ground in a crossed-legged position with your hands on your knees. Sit with your back upright and head inline with your spine.

Pranava Pranayama: can also be performed in a chair

Inhale slowly and deeply through your nostrils, expanding your abdomen and chest. Hold your breath with full lungs for a few seconds. Then, exhale through the mouth, make the sound Om (the Pranava mantra).

As you do that, relax your chest and contract your abdomen inwards. With empty lungs, start again, and repeat this pranayama for around 3 minutes.

Benefits: This Pranayama activates the energetic centre of the throat, the Vishuddha Chakra, which is linked to the expression of feelings. It improves speech performance, making the voice melodious. It is a meditative pranayama which calms the mind and emotions.

Watch a similar demonstration of Pranava Pranayama.

Trataka Kriya

Execution: Sit in a chair or on the ground in a crossed-legged position with your hands on your knees. Keep looking at the tip of your nose for as long as you can, without blinking your eyes. After some time, close your eyes and relax them. Then repeat this Trataka two more times. Then close your eyes and remain with your eyes closed.

Trataka Kriya: focusing on the tip of your nose

Now rub your hands together strongly, visualising a golden energy around your hands. Now, making shell shapes with your hands and placing them on your eyes and forehead. Visualise the transfer of this energy to your eyes and your third eye.

Feel your eyes and the power of your third eye improving and then press on them for a few seconds (if you have contact lenses, take care).

Keeping your hands pressed on your eyes and forehead, and slide them to the sides of your head, thereby removing negative energies from your eyes, your third eye and throw away these energies. Then lower your hands back to your knees.

Benefits: This Trataka helps to improve the function of the eyes. It clears up your vision. This Kriya clears your way of seeing the world, removing prejudices and preconceptions. It improves your ability to see in every way, material and metaphorical. They remove negative energy from the third eye network, awakening intuition, creativity, and sensitivity.

Watch a similar demonstration of Trataka Kriya.

Jalandhara Bandha

Execution: Sit in a chair or on the ground in a crossed-legged position with hands on your knees. Keep your torso upright and head inline with your spine, shoulders relaxed.

Jalandhara Bandha: can also be performed in a chair

Inhale slowly and deeply through the nostrils, expanding your abdomen and chest. Now, exhale through your nostrils, relaxing your chest and contracting your abdomen. Flex your neck and lower your head forwards. With your lungs completely empty, touch your chin to your chest (or as close as you can get — keep your back upright), and stay like that.

When you need to inhale, inhale slowly through the nostrils and return your head in line with your spine. Exhale once more through the nostrils and bend your neck down, put your chin on the chest. Repeat this Bandha for around 3 minutes.

Benefits: This activates the organs of the throat and neck, especially the thyroid gland and parathyroid, which, among other functions, are responsible for regulating body weight. It activates the throat Chakra (Vishuddha), which is responsible for activating the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. It also relates to the expression of feelings and affection, through gestures and voice.

Watch a similar demonstration of Jalandhara Bandha.

Keep Practicing

Techniques such as these bring many life benefits, noticeable on all levels. When you can keep these exercises up, everyday for a week, you will already these benefits. If you continue, it can open up other options and techniques that can change your life for the better, physically, energetically, emotionally and mentally.

I hope these techniques help you as they help me. I will follow up soon with more exercises that you can do at your desk, workplace and at home.

Paul McCrodden is a Shivam Yoga instructor @ Ahimsa — Shivam Yoga Center and Developer at X-Team. Posts inspired by Master Arnaldo @ Shivam Yoga Ashram, Beto @ Shivam Yoga Dublin and many motivated colleagues @ X-Team.