Post-work decompression techniques for busy people

A daily full body relaxation practice that you can try at home to reduce stress and reset.

Nicole Mahabir · CBC Life · September 24

Stress is often related to our perception of time. If we are pressed for time, we feel stressed. When we take time off or vacation, we create space which gives us the perception of more time in the day to help us mentally relax and unwind.

Many emotional states determine how we perceive time and space. If we are happy and relaxed, we can feel like we have all the time in the world. If we are stressed, we can feel like we have no time and become irritable with very little mental space or personal time to give. When we do something we love, we feel free, inspired or expansive and time moves quickly, but if we do something we dislike, we feel constricted, inhibited and time seems to drag into dismal eternity. It is not the time that makes us feel stressed or happy, it is the perception of how much space we have.

Emotions, time and space are intrinsically connected, so if we want to decompress, the key is that we need to create the perception of more mental space which makes us feel like we have more time. The perception of more time means we can mentally and emotionally relax and reset. So, when we are ready to work, we can then return rested with enthusiasm, focus, productivity, and efficiency.

Here's how.

The psychosomatic combination between the body and the breath creates harmonization of our mind, emotions and thought patterns. This means that we can access our emotional states and mental states through specific breathing and movement sequences. When our emotional states change; we laugh, we cry, or we are afraid, our breathing patterns also change. So, if we change our breath pattern, our emotional and mental state alters in kind.

This is a premise of yoga and pranayama (life force extension or breath control) but here we don't have to bend over backwards (literally) to decompress, we just need to synch our breath and movement in a relaxed way to change our emotional state and create mental space. The result is decompression, a system reset and the feeling of mental clarity and relaxation.

Here is a simple and quick four-part full body practice that is traditionally used to re-establish the communication between our mind, body, breath and emotions, helping our system to synchronize and operate cohesively.

Kaya Kriya

In the Sanskrit language of yoga, kaya means body and kriya means internal cleansing action. This kriya attunes the breath with the body in specific sequences to change how we feel by engaging our parasympathetic system to bring calm to our emotions and clear the mind.  This practice will include three different types of breathing and four parts. All four parts must be practiced consecutively for this kriya to be effective. Do not try only a select part of this kriya to practice on its own. The breath should always be in coordination with the movement of the body as described below. This coordination will help to reconnect the communication and ease between the mind, body and emotions to bring unity and equanimity to our thinking, action and overall being. This brings us into a state of symbiosis and deep relaxation. The breath should be deep, slow and long with an equal count of six on the inhale and six on the exhale.