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How to Handle Stress at Work with Yoga After 40

How to Handle Stress at Work - Yoga After FortyYou’re fired!  These are strong words that evoke a variety of emotions.  No one likes to be fired.  If we leave a job, we want to leave on our terms.  On the other hand, firing a boss or a client can feel good.

Most people dream of winning the lottery to escape from stress.  However, stress is part of life.  No silver bullet exists on how to handle stress at work.  But, practicing yoga can help, especially if you are over 40.  It is a simple way to deal with stress in the workplace.

Scratching the Yoga Surface – Thin and Flexible Women

Yoga is a practice.  On the surface, it’s a popular form of exercise.  If you search the Internet for “yoga”, you find images of pretty, young women.  These images are great for selling classes but don’t provide a full picture.

Yoga is for people of all ages, genders and shapes.  It’s not just about having a beautiful body even though that is one of the benefits.  Many people start yoga after they turn 40.  They continue practicing the rest of their lives.

The typical images found on the Internet represent one branch of yoga or Hatha Yoga.  Hatha is the most common form of yoga.  It gets you in great physical shape.  It’s a popular form of yoga for back pain relief.

In Hatha, you create a strong and flexible body through practicing postures or asanas.  This helps you sit for hours in meditation.  Many people don’t practice Hatha to meditate and that’s ok. They still receive benefits.

The Yoga You Don’t Know

Think of yoga as a tree of life with six main branches.  This tree is firmly rooted in the ancient teachings of India.  It is five thousand years old.  The branches represent diverse paths in life towards the same goal.  The goal is to be one with the Divine or a higher power.   The six branches or paths in life are

Yoga as a Remedy to Stress

Stress at Work - Playmobil Person in Vice GripIn simple terms, to practice yoga is to calm the mind.  Focus and find stillness.  In the stillness, you discover peace and joy.   Imagine you are at work.  Your boss has a bad day and takes it out on you.  Your pile of things to do turns into a mountain.  Your mind races.  You feel upset.

How do you deal with it?  Some people drink.  Others might zone out in front of the TV.  What if you could control those racing thoughts and feel peaceful at work?  Practicing yoga helps you focus so that you can add value.  It helps you enjoy the present moment.

Stress Can be Positive!

Remember that stress can be positive.  A healthy level of stress may call you to action.  It may challenge you to grow in a new way.  An unhealthy level of stress can lead to problems.  These problems include illness or issues with your partner. Practicing yoga helps you handle both positive and negative stress

Do I Need a Killer Body to Practice Yoga?

No!  Anyone and everyone can practice yoga.  You may be tight or out of shape.  Your fitness level doesn’t matter.  You’re age doesn’t matter.

The six branches of yoga are available to everyone.  However, Hatha Yoga is a great starting place.  You feel the effects of practicing the same day.  It gives you a good taste of the overall practice.  I started with Hatha because of back pain.  It was a huge gift (see the “About Nora” post).  Over time, it led me to other branches of yoga.

Bored with Hatha Yoga?  Try This Instead

Many options for practicing yoga exist.  No path is better than the other.

Instead of taking a Hatha Yoga class, you could meditate (Raja Yoga).  You could serve at a non-profit (Karma Yoga).  You could sing devotional songs (Mantra Yoga).  Maybe you decide you want to challenge yourself at work (yikes!).  You could practice loving devotion towards Divinity or a higher power (Bhakti Yoga).  You could study your mind (Jnana Yoga).

Sign Me Up!

Below are simple steps you can take to begin your practice.

  • Consider the six branches of yoga.  Which branch appeals to you?   Suppose you work in front of a computer.  Hatha Yoga might be a great option for you.  Maybe you have a job that requires physical activity.  In that case you might consider Raja Yoga instead.
  • If you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting Hatha Yoga.  Make sure it’s safe to practice.  You can modify poses as necessary.
  • Research yoga studios, meditation centers or classes offered in your area.  Go to the library or search on-line for books, articles, and information.
  • Create a simple and easy action plan.  You might try a yoga class or read a book.  I would start small and commit to your plan.  Make it simple.  Your plan should easily fit into your lifestyle.
  • Notice your feelings.  What feels good?  What works and what doesn’t work?  Notice how following your plan impacts coworkers and family.
  • Alter your plan as you gain experienceIt’s common to arrive in a different place than you intended.

Serenity and Peace - Hiker Looking at MountainsSerenity Now!!!!!!!!!

Below are simple techniques that you may practice at work.

  • Breathing Technique
    • Find a private and quiet place to sit.
    • Feel your feet on the ground.
    • Relax your hands on your lap.
    • Close your eyes and breath.
    • Focus on your breath.
    • Don’t control the breath.
    • Allow it to be natural (short, quick, shallow, deep, etc.).
    • Your mind will wander.  When this happens, tell yourself, “No, no, focus on the breath”.
    • Do this for as long as you can until your mind calms or you feel a shift
  • Peace and Harmony (from Self Realization Fellowship)
    • Close your eyes.
    • Imagine a difficult person in your life (boss, co-workers, clients, etc.).
    • Imagine white light falling over them.
    • Mentally chant, “Peace and harmony”.
    • Repeat this for 1-3 minutes.  Do this even if you hate them, no matter how hard it is!
    • Do the same to yourself.  See yourself in your mind’s eye.
    • Send white light to yourself.
    • Mentally chant “Peace and harmony”.
    • Repeat this for 1-3 minutes.
    • Practice 5 times a day, both on difficult people and on yourself.

Please remember that the person you are sending white light to may not change.  I find that I am the one who changes.   I feel at ease with the person or the situation.

Life is Like a Pig’s Tail

Pig Photo by Christoper Carson

You might think that you have no choice in your response to stress.  That may be true now.  But practicing yoga helps.  Yoga helps you shift so that your response is a choice.

A great sage talked about life in terms of a pig’s tail.  After you straighten a pig’s tail, it curls again.  Life’s challenges are similar.  You solve a problem and another one pops up.  How you respond is a choice.

Managing Work Stress

Work involves a certain level of stress.  If work wasn’t stressful, it wouldn’t be work and you wouldn’t get paid to do it.   If you are over 40, you may have greater responsibilities to deal with at work.

Stress creates tension, inflexibility and a host of other problems.  It is a major contributor to heart disease.  Yoga is a great way to deal with stress on a budget.  It helps you focus and become a relaxed and healthy person.

Have fun creating your yoga plan.  Remember to keep practicing!

Thank you for reading this post!  Please, feel free to comment in the section below.

All the best,

Nora

 

Nora

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for a very helpful article about yoga! I never knew the different forms of yoga, and know I do. I used to only know meditation and hatha yoga. I did practice hatha yoga for a while, but now because of a frozen right shoulder, I am limited in my practice. Do you have any suggestions on any yoga practice that can help me alleviate my frozen shoulder?

    • Hi Timotheus,

      Thank you for your comment! Yes, there is so much more to yoga than what is commonly seen on the Internet. I’m glad the article helped!

      Sorry to hear about your frozen shoulder. Did you injure your shoulder at some point or did it slowly freeze up? Also, is it a mild case or is it severe? I’m not a doctor but can give you some suggestions.

      If it is mild and mostly a movement issue I would work with a strap. Here is a video I found on YouTube. I don’t know the teacher, but she offers a very simple stretch. You could use a strap or a towel. The key is to go very very slooooooowwwwwwly. It should hurt a little like a deep stretch but not like you are injuring yourself. Try to get movement in the shoulder, even if it is tiny steps at a time.

      If it is inflamed, you might look at your diet. You could cut out inflammatory foods like white sugar and add anti-inflammatory foods like Turmeric instead.

      Outside of yoga, you could also find a good chiropractor, a massage therapist that works with fascia, or an acupuncturist.

      I hope that helps and that you feel better! Please let me know when you are able to heal it! – Notice I said, “when you heal it” not “if you heal it” 🙂 Of course, I’m happy to help if you have any other questions.
      -Nora

  2. Nora this article was really amazing. I used to do Yoga and I really enjoyed it, it was such a soothing but hard exercise. But I loved it.

    I never knew about the different types of yoga. I know I’ve heard of the Bhakti Yoga but not the other types. I think the type of yoga I did was Hatha Yoga, but I’m not quite sure.

    I also didn’t have a clue that yoga can help with back problems. But now that I read this article, I can see where that can be a nice little bonus. When I did yoga I did the WiiFit stuff. Have you ever heard of that? Because they had different poses you did and you were supposed to stay in that particular pose for like 30 seconds. I loved it, and it’s a shame I don’t have that anymore cause I do miss the rewards that came with it.

    Thank you Nora for such an informative and interesting article.
    -Jake

    • Jake,

      Thank you for your feedback and glad it helped! Yes, if practiced correctly, yoga is amazing for back pain. I have heard of WiiFit but have never done it myself.

      Any yoga we do is great – if we fit some form of it into our lives. You might want to check out my post on how to find free yoga online. Nowadays you can practice yoga for free thanks to the Internet. You could search for a class specifically on back pain.

      I think you are a true Bhakti yogi at heart and that thought makes me smile!
      – Nora

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