From full power to slowing down: the switch is in your nose.

Being alert or calm. Through the day and through the week, we need to find balance between the one and the other. Yet, we often catch ourselves either being low on energy when we still have so much to do or wide awake when it is time to sleep. How can you make sure that you find yourself in the right state when you need it? There is a trick, and even better, there is a switch.


Why do I need to switch?
We want to have everything, to have it right now and preferably all at once. So why not be ultimately relaxed and on the ball at the same time? As far as our physiological states of being are concerned, alertness and calm are two sides of the same coin. Either you are in the first one or in the second.

Beyond sounding friendly, our sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems do real wonders for us. Both are part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in charge of regulating bodily functions which happen without us having to consciously think about them - heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and more. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS), also known as "fight & flight", is activated when we face danger or a stressful situation. To cope with this external threat, a series of physiological responses are triggered by this nervous system, allowing our body and brain to be alert, present and ready for action. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released in our bloodstream, our heart rate goes up and our muscles are ready and well oxygenated to fire up. On the other side, the para-sympathetic nervous system (PNS) is the one which allows us to "rest & digest" or "feed & breed". In this operating mode, our body can relax and recover from phases of stress and activity. It is also in this state that our libido and metabolism are at their best. Thanks to acetylcholine and further anti-stress hormones, our blood pressure goes down and our brain is more relaxed to memorise and perform cognitive tasks, making this rest mode presumably a desired state for productivity.

Where is the switch?
It could not be more obvious and accessible, as it literally is in the middle of your face, right there in your nose. As modern science and research looked into breathing techniques used for thousands of years in the yoga tradition, they found strong similarities. What yogis knew and what science confirmed much later is that we only breathe through one nostril at a time. This natural change of breathing pattern from the right to the left and vice versa has been described as "nasal cycle" by the German physician Richard Kayser in 1895.

Every 2 to 2.5h, one nostril shrinks due to internal congestion, corresponding with a predominant activity of the SNS or PNS. When the right nostril is open, the SNS is dominant, when the left nostril is open, the PNS is more active. This means, when you feel alert or wide awake in your bed, there are great chances that your right nostril is more open than the left. Yogis refer similarly to the SNS and PNS as pingala and ida, both of which are "nadis" or energy channels. And this is where ancient tradition meets science again: ida is linked directly to the left nostril where it terminates, while pingala terminates in the right nostril. Following the Alternate Nostril Breathing technique which consists in alternatively inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other nostril, you stimulate the nervous terminations corresponding to these energy channels above your nostrils and by doing so, balancing out the states of energy between active and more passive. As a result, this technique has a beneficial effect on our heart rate, it calms the mind and improves focus.

the switch in action . Picture reproduced from  the yoga space .

the switch in action . Picture reproduced from the yoga space.

Using the switch.
Another technique called Single Nostril Breathing helps you activate the qualities of the nervous system which you need the most at a given moment. Accordingly, if you need to calm down and prepare yourself to rest, you can breathe in through the left side and exhale through the right, alway in this order: inhaling though the left, exhaling through the right. To do so, hold your right hand in front of your nose, using the right thumb to close the right nostril and the right ring finger to close the left nostril. As for the other side of the coin, if you need to be alert, then inhale through the right and exhale through the left for a few minutes. There is a reason behind inhaling on the side of the state that you wish to activate and exhaling on the side of the state that you want to decrease. Yogis have explained that inhalation enhances the activity of the energy channel on the side that you use while exhalation decreases the activity of the energy channel.

As I demonstrate in this video, other traditions such as kundalini yoga suggest that you can breathe in and out solely through the left side for five minutes to help activate the calm, rest, digestion and other qualities associated with ida, associated with PNS. Similarly, you can breathe in and out through the right side to be ready for action and enhance other qualities from the energy channel pingala, associated with SNS. I personally use this variation, breathing in and out through the nostril of your choice for the corresponding results. It is simple to memorise and goes almost incognito in the open space.

Activate the calm switch directly at your desk by breathing through the left nostril.

Activate the calm switch directly at your desk by breathing through the left nostril.

This is article #12 of our 100-blog-post series. To keep in touch, receive our tips, videos and insights, sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on Youtube & LinkedIn

Pictures & videos Copyright © 2019 REAL LIFE YOGA all rights reserved.

Sources: Parasympathetic Nervous System: A complete guide. Cognifit. Health, Brain and Neuroscience / Alternate Nostril Breathing and Autonomic Function in Healthy Young Adults. IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences. 2015 / Breathing through a particular nostril can alter metabolism and autonomic activities. Indian Journal Physiology and Pharmacology. 1994 / Yogis ahead of science: One nostril breathing determines how you feel. The Yoga Space




Starting the week with focus and energy.

Monday morning may not be everyone's favourite, yet it pays to start the week well. What can we do in terms of corporate wellbeing to help us with this? Even if you have no time nor motivation to hit the gym before work, you can set a great and energising start in your week in only a few minutes and directly at your desk. Discover these three methods in video and make them your Monday office routine. Ready, go!

Reaching up to wake up and breathe better.

This SIDE STRETCH is a good and gentle way to warm up the spine. As we know a mobile spine is a young spine. Yet way too often, we forget to explore its natural mobility throughout our day in the office. So remember, the more you take the chance to move and stretch, the better you can prevent tension from accumulating in your back. Additionally, bending to the side will help you stretch the muscles between the ribs (intercostal muscles), giving you more space to breathe deeper and to oxygenate your brain.

Power up instantly just by breathing.

The ENERGISING BREATH is a powerful breathing technique that will oxygenate your whole system in a minute. Only after a repetition of 20 breaths, forcefully in and out through the nose, you will feel tingly sensations running in your body and in your head. Yes, this is how much energy you have and it is at your disposal whenever you need it, so why not use it?

Focus on the spot with a playful balancing trick.

Our head needs space to think straight and this becomes particularly challenging if the mind chatters as you are trying your best to focus at the same time. When there is too much noise up there, you cannot even hear yourself think. So what can you do when you need to direct your attention to one spot, to one specific task. The solution is STANDING BALANCE. Stand up and close your eyes while you attempt to remain stable with one foot in the front of the other. The trick is that physical balance requires an empty mind. So as you get your body to stand still and focused, focus and stillness themselves will also become necessary in your mind. This is how you end up creating mental focus from a state of physical focus.

SIDE STRETCH

ENERGISING BREATH

STANDING BALANCE

You see, a few minutes per exercise will get you exactly where you need to be on a Monday morning - full of energy, mobility and focus - and you don't even have to change clothes or to break a sweat for that. Use these methods over and over again in your week when you need this boost of energy and instant concentration. Your body, your head and your work will be thankful.

This is article #11 of our 100-blog-post series. To keep in touch, receive our tips, videos and insights, sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on Youtube & LinkedIn

Pictures & videos Copyright © 2019 REAL LIFE YOGA all rights reserved.

Creating an impact when you speak: as simple as being clear.

Diversity sometimes rhymes with inequality. For instance, in the skills and talents that we see in others but not in ourselves. Take public speaking. Do you feel confident when you give a speech, can you get your point across in a meeting or present your authentic self at networking events? If we all want to make a good and memorable impression, some of us can feel really out of place in such situations or even worse: they feel terrified just by the very thought of speaking in front of others. But what if all we needed to overcome this, was more clarity and simplicity?


May the clarity be with you. (in Jedi you will read)
Cécile Bastien Remy, Trainer (Speak4Impact) and Keynote Speaker on Resilience, is a reference in public speaking. So much so, that one of her clients' named her "Public Speaking Jedi". A title that she kept, of course. As you can imagine, Cécile will give you the adequate public speaking training so that you too may "deliver your message with impact, credibility and influence". According to her, clear and strong messages are still too often missing from meetings and conferences, thereby leading to miscommunication and inefficiency. "It is a plague for corporations, leaders and employees" she explains. "Some professionals can express their ideas with clarity, simplicity and power. Others do not". Now, are you ready to change this?

A big opportunity, never again you shall miss.
If we look at what is holding us from bringing our message across in a simple and clear way, we can depict two scenarios: the anxious and the scattered mind. For the former, anxiety may kick in before we take the floor or as soon as we become the center of attention, depleting ourselves of our initial plan, our inspiration or even the slightest idea of what we meant to say. For the latter, a lack of preparation or a sense of being overwhelmed with thoughts racing in all directions can prevent us from being here, present, focused and in control of our message. Whether we feel anxious or scattered, there are ways to center ourselves emotionally and physiologically in the matter of a few seconds before speaking in public. Breathing consciously is a very effective and discrete option, as breathing in your belly can instantly switch on the relaxation response and have a soothing effect on your nervous system. Testing your balance is another, more playful one which can help you focus and tame your hyperactive mind on the spot.

For more insights and best practices, I strongly encourage you to join Cécile and to walk in the footsteps of our Public Speaking Jedi at the PWG Conference Day on March 30th! And REAL LIFE YOGA will be attending too, just after our energising break so you that you are powered up for a successful networking session (more info about Cécile’s Facilitated Networking session below).

"Some professionals can express their ideas with clarity, simplicity and power. Others do not." CECILE BASTIEN REMY, Public Speaking Jedi, trainer and speaker.

"Some professionals can express their ideas with clarity, simplicity and power. Others do not." CECILE BASTIEN REMY, Public Speaking Jedi, trainer and speaker.

 
Cécile Bastien Remy , Public Speaking Jedi – Trainer – Keynote Speaker on Resilience,  SPEAK4IMPACT

Cécile Bastien Remy, Public Speaking Jedi – Trainer – Keynote Speaker on Resilience, SPEAK4IMPACT

“My name is Cécile Bastien Remy. After a near two-decade career in international sales and marketing as well as publishing two books, I became passionate about the Art of Public Speaking. After years of training, I won “Best Speaker” in Switzerland in 2015 which led me to compete internationally. Following from this, I set up my company to help professionals to take their leadership and capacity for success to the next level. Clients say that I am enthusiastic, energetic and quick thinking - one even called me a Jedi! These are in fact the attributes I use to help leaders like you develop skills you did not realize you had and become great speakers!”

“Networking is one of many situations when your communication abilities are tested. At the conference, I will share ideas and best practices to make Networking actions more efficient. I want to give attendees specifics to never miss their next big opportunity.”

Attend Cécile’s Facilitated Networking session at the PWG Conference Day.

 
 
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The Rise of Diversity Conference will explore ways to reshape the corporate culture. Attendees will discover how leading companies have successfully leveraged the potential of diversity to help accomplishing their growth objectives and learn how to implement hands-on solutions in the workplace. Keynote Speakers, Panel discussions, Interactive workshops and Facilitated networking.

Saturday, March 30th at Tamedia.

 
 
 

This is article #10 of our 100-blog-post series. To keep in touch, receive our tips, videos and insights, sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on Youtube & LinkedIn

Picture @Unsplash Edwin Andrade.

Diversity as professional growth strategy: where can you start?

There are clear advantages to navigate life with an open mind and to welcome inspirations from different sources. As I have been sharing about the approaching PWG Conference Day entitled The Rise of Diversity, it seems natural to look closer at what diversity in itself has to offer. And you would be surprised to see how much more productive and relaxing it can be to count on diversity.


As Jacqueline Michelleto, PWG Marketing & Strategy Manager (The Professional Women’s Group) and co-organiser of the PWG Conference Day sums up: "diversity is not only a matter of justice or corporate social responsibility, but rather an essential component to companies' growth strategy." Take this one step further and you could even see diversity as your next development strategy as a professional.

Think diversity to gather experiences from the best sources.

As I am scrolling through the program of the conference, I can see it very clearly. If you choose not limit yourself to your industry or to your acquired skills, you can draw from an array of experiences and disciplines which will help you thrive in business. For instance, from the keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and even our REAL LIFE YOGA break to keep you fit and energised for the conference, you can learn in one single place and one single day from experts and make your own first-hand experience. Be it in networking, communication skills, happiness at work, corporate wellbeing and more. How could you welcome so much knowledge and inspiration if you were not to accept the diverse experiences, backgrounds and visions from other professionals who share the corporate world with you?

 
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Think diversity to save valuable time.

The very fact that we, as individuals with our own personality, talents, beliefs and predispositions, can realistically only become "experts" in few disciplines, makes it necessary to deepen and expand our knowledge through others. How else could we broaden our horizon and complete our skillset than by having the humbleness to learn from others who have excelled in their field before us? Accepting others as potential teachers, mentors or igniters will not only save you time but help you access the core of their experience, as they have been able to extract the key and practical take-aways which you can then apply directly in your own life. No wonders that professionals groups and communities like PWG are so valuable to their members: “the PWG Community includes women from different industries, cultural backgrounds and age and it is exactly this diversity that makes the group so special.”

Think diversity to relax.

To believe that you have to be the best at everything you do in order to be successful is a sure way to feel unsatisfied, scattered, "not good enough" and to sustain high levels of pressure and stress. However, if you can instead rely on others' expertise in order to complete your own natural talents with additional insights and perspectives, you will be more open to learn and to progress without the unnecessary pressure. With this state of mind, you can start to create meaningful exchange instead of competing and comparing yourself with everyone else. If you can value inspiration, respect and cooperation, then this is where mutual learning, growth and success will start to flourish inside and outside your company.

Are you ready for more diversity? So come with your own personality and strengths and be open to discover how to become a more resourceful person and professional with the help of others.

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Logo Conference.jpg

The Rise of Diversity Conference will explore ways to reshape the corporate culture. Attendees will discover how leading companies have successfully leveraged the potential of diversity to help accomplishing their growth objectives and learn how to implement hands-on solutions in the workplace. Keynote Speakers, Panel discussions, Interactive workshops and Facilitated networking.

Saturday, March 30th at Tamedia. Get your ticket for the Conference here.

 

The Professional Women’s Group is proud to be the first and oldest networking group for women in Zurich founded in 1983. For over 35 years they have worked towards developing strategic partnerships with local and corporate businesses and offering both career and personal development opportunities for their community. Today PWG offers 12 monthly events with keynote speakers, 7 Think Tanks (smaller workshops organised by an experienced facilitator), 8 Taster Workshops focused on entrepreneurs and other special partner's events during the year. And for the first time they are organising a full day conference.

All of this is possible thanks to their partners, volunteers and, of course, the Executive Committee - a group of passionate women, who dedicate their time and effort to support other women in Zurich region on a volunteer basis.

 

This is article #9 of our 100-blog-post series. To keep in touch, receive our tips, videos and insights, sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on Youtube & LinkedIn

A warm thank you to Jackie, the PWG team and speakers of the PWG Conference Day for contributing to bringing more diversity in the workplace and for sharing their expertise and passion with us.

Picture @PWG, the Rise of Diversity Conference.

Welcoming diversity: from acceptance to thriving organisations.

Diversity is at the core of most business policies today. It is even the theme of the PWG Conference Day happening at the end of the month in Zurich and this is no coincidence. Diversity of inputs and perspectives has been increasingly valued in the workplace and companies have come to understand that collaboration is often more productive than close-minded project management. What do we need though, to make this happen in our organisations?


Listening instead of hearing what you think or want to hear.

As Barbara Stupp, managing partner of OYSIA and certified PCM™ (Process Communication Model™) trainer describes, being ready to listen to others is the first step for companies to learn and grow in their diversity. "I would like all of us to appreciate organisations as living systems that have immense, untapped capabilities to learn and evolve. Learning together starts when we listen to one another rather than just talk to one another." This is a perfect example of mindfulness at work right there. Learning to listen carefully and consciously, without getting your own beliefs, thoughts or ready-made answers get in the way of the message.

“Learning together starts when we listen to one another rather than just talk to one another."

Acceptance and mindful communication as stepping stones for corporate growth.

I am always pleasantly surprised to observe mindfulness being incorporated and acknowledged in the corporate world. Accepting others with their differences and learning to listen without judgement go precisely in this direction. According to Barbara, "intelligent action is created in social systems where all the members of the network accept the others as legitimate participants. As the quality of relationships improves the quality of actions and results improve." Even if the terminology and the techniques can change from classic mindfulness and acceptance practices to interactive communication workshops, the goals, concepts and results are similar. Employees, teams and corporations who apply acceptance and mindful communication in any form will be able to accept different perspectives and understand different communication styles better, thereby building relationships that can benefit from a variety of insights and experiences.

Employees, teams and corporations who apply acceptance and mindful communication in any form will be able to make use of different perspectives.

Employees, teams and corporations who apply acceptance and mindful communication in any form will be able to make use of different perspectives.

 

Barbara works with individuals and teams to improve how they relate to themselves and to others. After more than a decade in international management positions in a Fortune 50 company, Barbara redirected her career to reflect her interest in the human dimension of management. Since 2003 she works with companies and individuals to recognise the patterns of interaction in teams. This strengthens genuine “thinking and working together”. Barbara holds a MSc in Business Administration, is a PCM™ certified trainer and a CTI® trained coach. Swiss national of German origin, she is married and has one daughter.

To help you and your team use communication to build relationships and better learn from each other, attend Barbara's workshop Speak up – be heard! How to build diversity with your communication style at the PWG Conference Day. "This workshop is about communication and relationship building. You will leave this interactive workshop with one applicable technique to enhance your communication with people who think and act differently to you. You will experience how your perception shapes your speaking and listening. Dare to broaden your communication style and build broader bridges with people. Feel it – understand it – believe it – play with it – apply it – reflect about it."

 
 
Logo Conference.jpg

The Rise of Diversity Conference will explore ways to reshape the corporate culture. Attendees will discover how leading companies have successfully leveraged the potential of diversity to help accomplishing their growth objectives and learn how to implement hands-on solutions in the workplace. Keynote Speakers, Panel discussions, Interactive workshops and Facilitated networking.

Saturday, March 30th at Tamedia.

 
 
 

This is article #8 of our 100-blog-post series. To keep in touch, receive our tips, videos and insights, sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on Youtube & LinkedIn

Picture @ Unsplash Patrick Fore.