For busy Mumbai, it’s micro-pranayams

(Pic: Thinkstock)(Pic: Thinkstock)
Are you one of those people who has an excuse at hand to slip out of a morning walk or gym/yoga routine owing to your work schedule? You can’t do that anymore. The asanas are coming right to your office desk and can be done is a shorter amount of time than you take to read this. That’s right. The new mantra lies in a short burst of yoga sequences — either on your chair, on the way to a meeting or even as you wait to meet the boss. Say hello to ‘micro-pranayams’ and ‘micro-asanas’ that are shorter versions of normal yoga exercises, tailor-made to give you the benefits of yoga without eating into the day’s agenda. And for busy Mumbai folk, these are a welcome grab. Ready for, ‘inhale, exhale, work, repeat’?

‘It eased my neck ache tremendously’

Those who have been there, done that vouch for the benefits of micro-pranayams and micro-asanas. Says Rachel Dias, secretary at a firm at Nariman Point, “I have travel from my home in Dahisar to the office. I had a very stiff neck due to my commute and then someone suggested I do these short asanas with neck stretches right from my chair. It has helped me so much that I don’t have to wear the collar any more. It’s a big step ahead.”
Adds Rauvin Jatia, a tech expert from Andheri, “With my schedule, I struggle to find the time to exercise. At a recent training session in office, I learnt about how desktop stretches can actually bring more oxygen to the muscles and it has worked. I don’t have any of the usual stiffness I had,” he admits.

Why it works
Part of a time-efficient exercise strategy called High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), studies say short duration regimens may be even better than traditional longer duration workouts. International fitness expert Dr Michael Mosley says just two bursts of 20 seconds of exercise effort may beat an hour’s session in the gym! As per a study by researchers at the University of Illinois, a single 20-minute session of yoga can sharpen the mind and invigorate the senses, even more than what brisk walking or jogging would do in the same amount of time.

Suryanamaskar on your desk or chair? it’s possible!

Yoga expert Nishriin Parikh affirms that she has several requests to shorten the traditional asanas. “Today, a large majority of the workforce has no time, so these micro-pranayams and asanas are just what’s needed,” she starts. And they tackle problems specific to corporateville. “Most prevalent are joint aches from sitting long hours in a chair. Most office goers come in to work tired — either not having slept well or due to a backlog from the previous day. Now, we have studies that point out the dangers of this — how sitting is the new smoking and if you don’t do something about it, you might develop cervical spondylitis, common in workplaces today. To relieve the pain, start with any micro-asana and go from there. Do short cat-stretches on the desk or chair with neck rolls, which increases blood flow and releases stress as well as shoulder rotations and shrugs. You can also do a 15-second bridge pose on a mat next to you, adds Nishriin.” For those suffering from thyroid, open the jaw wide and slowly shut it thrice, she suggests.

 There’s a calming micro-pranayam that’s just about breathing right. “A simple exercise where you inhale and hold and then exhale for a longer time, called ‘equal breathing’ works well to de-clutter the mind. On a meta-physical level, it removes energy blockages in the body,” informs yoga trainer Ruchi Gulati. “Another beneficial micro-asana is to do the suryanamaskar on your chair. It’s great for spine health. All you do is, inhale, go backwards, exhale, bend down and touch the toes. Then sit up again exhale and bend to touch the forehead with the right and then the left knee. This way you are doing the Chaturanga and Adho Mukha Svanasana in one,” she adds.