By Sarajean Rudman
For those of us who work in office settings, spending eight or more hours a day sitting still in front of a screen can leave us out of balance, overstimulated, and disconnected from the rhythms of nature. But don’t worry, there’s hope!
Living an Ayurvedic lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to give up your day job, move to a quiet spot in the woods, and become dogmatic with your diet, dinacharya (daily routine), and ritucharya (seasonal routine). Infusing some simple Ayurvedic practices into the office setting can bring us closer to nature and boost our energy, productivity, and wellness.
Here are 10 ways to bring a little Ayurveda into your workplace.
- Keep a bottle of fresh rosewater next to your computer and, periodically, spritz a little bit into both eyes to keep them moisturized and refreshed throughout the day. For aromatherapy breaks, keep essential oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus near your desk to smell throughout the day and enliven the nasal passageway.
- Don’t skip lunch, and don’t eat lunch at your desk. Find a quiet place to eat, in silence if you can, and take your time. After lunch, take a five- to 30-minute walk if possible to aid your digestion. If you can’t walk, do some seated or standing yoga stretches, such as side bends, twists, and perhaps some deep squats.
- Bring a thermos full of kitchari for lunch to give your GI tract a rest. It’s the Ayurvedic magic food—a simple recipe of mung daal, basmati rice, and spices that’s easy to digest and travels well, so that you can make it in the morning and bring it along.
- Once or twice per day, take a five-minute break to gaze at something in nature. This can be a flower, a cloud, a patch of grass, or a tree. Avoid bringing your phone, computer, or coworkers with you. Let it be a reset not only for your eyes, but for your mind as well.
- Switch ears when talking on the phone to avoid overuse of one side.
- Take one hour a day of silence to not speak to anyone, or to speak sparingly. This can be extended to a half day or a full day if that’s workable for you. Offering the voice a break can start to bring some of the outward-moving energy back inward.
- Be sure to never sit in a chair for more than 45 minutes to an hour without a break. Sitting in a chair is not a natural position for the body. Stand up and walk around, do some yoga stretching, touch your toes, and do some Sun breaths to move the lymph and circulate your blood.
- When you find yourself in a stressful situation, practice Dirgha pranayama, the three-part yogic breath. Sit quietly, close your eyes, and place one hand on the belly and one on the chest. Inhale, and expand first your belly, then your ribs, then your chest. Exhale, and contract first your chest, then your ribs, then your belly. Deep, yogic breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and offers relaxation and stress relief.
- To stay healthy when something’s going around the office, keep a mixture of one part turmeric and three parts raw, organic honey at your desk, and have a teaspoon every couple of hours. You can also use the Ayurvedic formula chayawanparash, an herbal jam that can boost immunity and improve digestion.
- Don’t ignore your body’s needs. No matter how busy you are, find time to drink water when you’re thirsty, eat when you’re hungry, and use the bathroom when you need to.
Sarajean Rudman is the Kripalu School of Ayurveda Intern.