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What Yoga Can Teach Us About Productivity

What Yoga Can Teach Us About Productivity

    Earlier, I talked about how you can use meditation practices “in real time,” while you’re working on a task, to stay focused and motivated.  In this post, I’ll discuss how some forms of movement and breathing from yoga can help you find efficiency and ease in your work.

    Usually, when we think about productivity, images of well-organized e-mail inboxes and color-coded folders come to mind.  But these things alone aren’t enough to make us efficient.  If our minds aren’t disciplined — our attention is scattered, or we feel sluggish or anxious — work will be a struggle, no matter how organized our workspace is.

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    How do we discipline our minds?  I’ve found the ancient practice of hatha yoga — the stretches and breathing we simply call “yoga” in the West — very helpful.  This may sound odd at first, but it makes sense if we look at why hatha yoga was created.  It’s designed to clear the mind to prepare for meditation. In the same way, when we use it at work, it helps us become serene and focused.

    Although people tend to see yoga as a complex bunch of poses that require a mat and a lot of flexibility, there are simple forms of yogic breathing and movement we can do while seated. You can do the practices I’ll describe whenever you feel yourself losing attention or momentum at work.

    1.    Breathe Into The Tight Spot

    When a student is in a yoga pose that’s bringing up a lot of discomfort, a yoga teacher will often tell the student to “breathe into” the uncomfortable spot in their body — meaning to breathe so that the tense part rises and falls with the breath. This helps the student relax into the pose.

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    If you pay close enough attention when you’re feeling stressed or anxious at work, I suspect you’ll notice that some part of your body is tensed up — whether it’s your jaw, neck, lower back, or somewhere else.  If you notice this, I invite you to try taking a few deep breaths into that tight place.

    When you do this, I think you’ll find the tension dissipating, and the stress starting to fade.

    2.    Open Up Your Shoulders

    Many of us spend our workdays hunched over a keyboard, and this can cause tension to build in the neck and shoulders.  When that tightness gets uncomfortable enough, it can disrupt our focus.  Here’s a great way to release some of this tension — again, without leaving your chair.

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    The pose I’ll describe is called “eagle arms.”  To do this, hold your forearms out in front of you, parallel to your body.  Cross your right arm in front of your left, and clasp your hands in front of your face so that your arms intertwine.  Holding this pose, breathe deeply a few times into your shoulders.  Repeat this with your left arm crossed over your right.

    I think you’ll find this helps you let go of the tightness in your shoulders, and return your attention to your work.

    3.    Breathe Into Your Heart

    When we’re feeling unmotivated at work, it’s helpful to connect with our desire to contribute to and serve others. The yoga technique of breathing into your heart is a wonderful way to do this.

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    According to yoga, there’s an energetic center in the heart area called the “heart chakra.”  When we “open” the heart chakra by breathing into it, we feel our sense of compassion for others, and our desire to give to the world.

    To breathe into your heart, clasp your hands behind your back at the level of your heart, and stretch out your arms.  Then, breathe deeply so your upper chest rises and falls with the breath. Feel the warmth and openness in your heart, and notice any tension melting away.

    4.    Breathe Into Your Spine

    According to yoga, there’s another energetic center at the base of the spine called the “root chakra.”  Breathing into the root chakra gives us a sense of groundedness and stability.  Doing this can be very useful when you’re feeling anxious at work.

    To breathe into the root chakra, put your attention on the base of your spine, where the spine meets the pelvis.  If focusing on that area is difficult, place your hand on your lower back, and concentrate on the sensation of pressure there.  With your attention on the base of your spine, take a few deep breaths.

    When you do this, you’ll likely feel a deep-seated sense of solidity, and that paralyzing worry will start to fade.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2019

    30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

    30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

    What do your 3pm fridge raid and perfectly alphabetised bookshelf have in common?

    You most likely did both of them when you should have been doing work.

    Procrastination is one of the most human behaviours. We’re all guilty of putting off what we know is important from time to time, and it seems the more pressing the task at hand, the better we are at avoiding it.

    Sure, it means that every time we have an important deadline we end up with a spotlessly clean house and a completely empty inbox, but the real work gets left until the very last minute and is finished in a frenzy of stress and caffeine.

    But we can gain control over procrastination by noticing it as soon as possible and stopping it in its tracks. On the contrary, you know you have a bad habit when you’re aware you’re putting something off, and you continue avoiding it anyway.

    To start you off with combating procrastination, here are a few quotes to get you in a motivated frame of mind, because if procrastination has any enemies, it’s motivation to work harder.

    A Few Home Truths

      “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
      ― Mark Twain


      “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
      ― Leonardo da Vinci


      “Someday is not a day of the week.”
      ― Janet Dailey


      “Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”
      ― Israelmore Ayivor


      “The man who waits to know everything is the man who never does anything.”
      ― Craig D. Lounsbrough


      “Procrastination is like going to a fancy restaurant and filling up on bread and not leaving enough room for dinner.”
      ― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret


      “Procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear. When we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it.”
      ― Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor


      “Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.”
      ― Matshona Dhliwayo


      “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
      ― Abraham Lincoln


      “A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
      ― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere


      “By what right do I, who have wasted this day, make claims on tomorrow?”
      ― Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes


      “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
      ― José N. Harris


      Some Practical Advice

        “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
        ― Hilary Mantel


        “Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
        ― Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding


        “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
        ― Pablo Picasso


        “It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.”
        ― Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema


        “Do first what you don’t want to do most.”
        ― Clifford Cohen


        “How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”
        ― Stephen Richards, The Secret of Getting Started: Strategies to Triumph over Procrastination


        “How to stop procrastinating starts with believing you can overcome procrastination.”
        ― Robert Moment, How to Stop Procrastinating


        “Never put things off…you will wake up and find them gone.”
        ― James Jones


        Some Tough Love

          “Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.”
          ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph


          “If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”
          ― George Bernard Shaw


          “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
          ― José N. Harris


          “What is deferred is not avoided.”
          ― Thomas More


          “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”
          ― Chuck Close


          “If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
          ― Roy Bennett


          “Your ideas have legs and just as they run through your head, they could be running through someone else’s head and it’s just a matter of who gets to the finish line first. Nothing is new under the sun so act on your ideas.”― Sanjo Jendayi


          “You may not be punished for your procrastination, but for sure you will be punished by your procrastination.”
          ― Debasish Mridha


          When You Need Pulling out of Procrastination

            “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
            ― Denis Waitley


            “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
            ― Karen Lamb


            Print these quotes out, stick them on the wall in front of your desk – do whatever it takes to remember why you shouldn’t be putting your work off, or getting distracted by a desire to rearrange your socks into colour order.

            It won’t be easy, but being aware of how detrimental procrastination is to your longer-term goals is the first step towards overcoming it.

            More Motivational Quotes

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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