5 ways to keep calm

Yoga is hugely popular today.  There are many different styles and there is a great choice for anyone looking to take up the practice of Yoga.

When I started to practise Yoga I was in my early teens.  I was at the stage where I was curious and wanted to find out about things which were different or unusual.  I had a wonderful Aunt who lived in London and was in touch with cool people who went to India and visited ashrams.  There were books in her flat and she lent me some of them.  My inspiration was “A Search in Secret India” by Paul Brunton.

In my late teens I started teaching Yoga and over the years practising Yoga has become so much a part of my life I don’t even think about how to fit it in.  It’s like cleaning my teeth or putting the wash on.  It’s there in my daily routine.

Alongside my Yoga teaching, I have spent much of my time encouraging people to adapt to new circumstances.  I have worked on writing software, implementing new systems, transforming services and developing strategy.  Most of these functions involve finding ways of encouraging people to do things differently.  And customers or the people who work for you are not always enthusiastic about it!  Many are fearful of change and can become upset, argumentative and angry.  In the workplace today we find ourselves on the receiving end of these emotions as the pressure on us all increases.

I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on my own way of managing pressure in the workplace.  I believe that I know what my own state of quietness is.  This has been developed over the years through my regular Yoga practice.  I can therefore assess how far away from that state of quietness I have moved at a given time.  Armed with this awareness, the decision I have to make is this - how do I return to my quiet state?  What do I have to do?  What do I have to stop doing?  Where can I save some energy and effort so that I can create space for quietness?  How do I bring my life into balance again? These are tough questions and the answers depend on making clear decisions about what’s important to me.

And here’s the thing.  We sometimes blame work, home or relationships for causing us to feel pressured.  We are inclined to think that by ditching some of our commitments or getting out of the workplace these things will disappear.  And that life will become lovely.  For some people, eliminating some of these sources of stress and anxiety can work well.  Though not everyone is free to walk away from work or relationships.  The bottom line is that if you are the kind of person who is inclined to feel pressured, then placing yourself in a different situation may simply lead you to feel pressured about different things in your new world.  And you may still not feel calm and quiet!

I believe that you need to understand what your own sense of quietness is.  What does it feel like to be calm and still, to discipline yourself, to put aside the flurry of thoughts in your head and to be truly focussed?  You might find you can achieve this through a Yoga practice or it could be by going for a walk, baking, playing a game of golf, reading a book or working in the garden.  Take stock of how you feel when you have truly absorbed yourself in an activity you find calming.  Now you know what your state of quietness is.  It is the baseline you need in order to compare your state at any given time.  It is this quiet state that you will strive to find again and again when you most need it.

Tension manifests in our bodies as well as our minds. Raised shoulders, a stiff neck, an inflexible spine can be signs of tension building up.  Your breath can become short and sit high in the chest when you are stressed.  Releasing physical tension and working on slowing your breath can help.

So how can you carry your state of quietness around with you?  And get back to it when it slips away?

Here are 5 techniques to help you:

  • Master some simple stretches to relieve tension from your neck, shoulders and back
  • Discover what your state of quietness is
  • Get to know your breath and recognise when it’s changing
  • Practise simple breath control techniques to slow your breath
  • Identify opportunities in your day to check in with your state of quietness – how far away from quiet are you?

Here are some Yoga techniques which you may find helpful for releasing tension http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/six-stretches-to-do-at-work/

These simple steps will help you to become more aware of yourself and how you react to situations.  And armed with this awareness you become empowered to make the changes you need to make to stay calm, whatever life throws at you!

To learn more about managing pressure in your life contact info@bluepebblecoaching.co.uk

Izzy Ixer, Blue Pebble Coaching
January 2017