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Why breathing techniques may reduce stress at work and how can Pilates practice help?

Breathing techniques can reduce stress at work because they offer simple yet effective ways to manage stress in real-time.


The science bit:


Tight deadlines, high workloads, interpersonal conflicts, and constant connectivity can sometimes encourage stress in the workplace.


To respond to these stressors, our nervous system triggers a "fight or flight" response. This is also called the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). When the SNS is active, it prepares the body for action by increasing heart rate, dilating pupils, and redirecting blood flow to the muscles to facilitate a rapid response.


On the other hand, the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is often called the "rest and digest" response. It is responsible for promoting relaxation, recovery, and maintenance of bodily functions during times of rest and non-stressful situations. The PNS conserves energy, slows heart rate, constricts pupils, and facilitates processes like digestion and immune system functioning.


Breathing techniques, especially those involving slow, deep, and controlled breathing, can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to better cope with these stressors.


Relaxing Breathing Techniques


Here are a few popular breathing techniques you can try during your working day or a Pilates Class:


1. Belly Breathing (also called Diaphragmatic Breathing):


The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that sits just below your ribs. As we breathe in, the diaphragm expands, pushing our viscera down and as we breathe out, the diaphragm springs back up, letting the air out of our lungs.


To practice Belly Breathing:

  • Sit comfortably in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place both hands on your belly.

  • Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your diaphragm and filling your lungs with air. Feel your belly rise as you inhale.

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your belly to fall as you release the breath.

  • Repeat this process for a few minutes, focusing on the rhythm of your breath.


2. Box Breathing (4-4-4):


Box breathing is a simple technique that can help calm the nervous system.

Breathing to promote stress relief
Box Breathing

To practice Box Breathing:

  • Find a quiet space and sit comfortably.

  • Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four.

  • Hold your breath for a count of four.

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four.

  • Hold your breath again for a count of four.

  • Repeat this process for several cycles.


3. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Also called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama):


Alternative Nostril Breathing is an ancient yoga breathing technique that induces a quiet, calm and balanced mind.

Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate Nostril Breathing

To practice Alternate Nostril Breathing:

  • Sit in a comfortable position and use your right thumb to close your right nostril.

  • Inhale deeply through your left nostril.

  • Close your left nostril with your right ring finger, and simultaneously release the closure of the right nostril.

  • Exhale through your right nostril.

  • Inhale through your right nostril.

  • Close your right nostril again and exhale through your left nostril.

  • Repeat this pattern for a few minutes.


By adding breathing techniques into your daily routine or as part of regular Pilates practice, you can effectively manage stress, enhance your emotional well-being, and contribute to a healthier work-life balance.


Check out the short video below for a bit more details. Alternatively, why don't you join a stress-busting group class or a one-to-one session at the Exhale Collective and experience the benefits Pilates can bring to your well-being?









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