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Yoga – The art of decompression

For hustlers unable to squeeze in an eat, pray, love escapade. Start small and do something for your mind, body and soul today!

19 Dec 2022
Yoga – The art of decompression

Just breathe in…and breathe out, breathe in…aaand breathe out.

Even though we do it subconsciously, this seemingly simple exercise forms the basis of one of the most prominent, and oldest mind-body workouts out there – yoga. With 5000 years of existence, the ancient practice has long been raved about for its health benefits, spanning from the psychological to the physical.

And Singaporeans could use it now more than ever.

Our little red dot is boiling

With its beautiful skyscrapers and breathtaking cityscapes, from the outside looking in, Singapore seems like a metropolis, an excellent place to live and work. But for those of us who call this place home, we might describe it slightly differently.

Ranked the second most overworked city in the world in 2021, 72% of working adults in Singapore reported moderate to high levels of stress. For years, the feeling of being in a ‘pressure cooker’ has been a resonating sentiment for individuals in Singapore, students and working adults alike.

Is there anything we could do to ‘cool’ down then?


Decompression - what is it and why do we need it?

First used supposedly in a military context during the Vietnam War, decompression then, was defined as time off for soldiers to cool down before returning to their civilian lives, after their respective military tours in Southeast Asia. Several nurses observed that decompression time was needed for soldiers to emotionally recover from the horrors they experienced, so as to facilitate a safe transition back to society.

Over the years however, the term has evolved to take on a more psychological meaning.

With our current fast-paced, stressful lifestyle, we tend to seek out instant gratification, though seemingly innocent, the perpetuation of it could lead to disastrous results mentally.

Let us explain.

Craving some bubble tea after your lunch? Order it on foodpanda. Thinking of impulsively buying that pair of boots you’ve been thinking of? Order it on ASOS. Feeling lonely in bed at 2am? Swipe on Tinder.

Our unrestrained desire for these quick-fix solutions, that are often unhealthy, affects us psychologically, making us more susceptible to addiction and a lack of self-control, it also affects the quality of our real-life interactions and ultimately lowers our happiness and ability to attain long-term goals.

So, where does decompression come in? Decompression allows us to break out of this lifestyle. It lowers our stress and anxiety levels, and gives our mind and body a much needed cleanse from the pressures and noise of our outside world – and yoga is a great way to achieve it.

Spot your mental red flags

To get OUT of mental danger, we must first know we are IN mental danger. But where do we draw the line between life's natural stresses and a cry for help?

Withdrawing from people, losing interests in activities that once gave us enjoyment, a decrease in work output, effort and motivation, as well as an increase in our drinking and smoking habits are some of the signs of a seriously deteriorating mental health.

The key is recognising drastic changes in our behaviour – knowing the baseline and realising when that has changed.

That might be, however, easier said than done. Gradual changes in our mood and behaviour may be hard to spot, thus, having supportive people around us who can spot our mental red flags and have the courage to approach and speak to us about it are important.

Namaste, let’s begin

Despite what you might see and hear from your friends and colleagues that pay exorbitant amounts of money for yoga classes, starting is a lot easier than you’d think.

All it takes is a good place to lie – seriously. One of the keys to beginner yoga is the breath, and for that, you could do it anywhere! You can even do it right now.

One exercise is called deep belly breathing. When lying on the floor or sitting on a chair, place one hand on the chest while placing the other hand just below the ribcage, feeling the movement of your diaphragm. Slowly breathe in through the nose, for a count of five, and exhale out the mouth for a count of five. Feel the air as your stomach rises and relaxes.

Another exercise is called breath retention. Start by sitting upright with your legs crossed on the floor. Then breathe through your nose for five seconds, holding the air in your lung for ten seconds, before slowly exhaling through your mouth. Take a few normal breaths before repeating the process.

When it comes to yoga, the sky’s the limit. There are many exercises you can try out from the internet, so find what best suits you!

Can yoga do the heavy lifting?

So, you’ve heard of all the great benefits of yoga so far (and even learned some exercises), but when it comes down to it, is yoga really the best bang for your buck?

The short answer is: Yes.

As a form of low-impact exercise, a number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress, anxiety and depression levels, while simultaneously increasing beneficial brain chemicals such as endorphins. On top of that, yoga can slow down the effects of aging, improve balance and flexibility as well as reduce the risk factors of chronic diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

As a form of low-impact exercise, this fits perfectly in a typical Singaporean’s busy schedule, where spending hours in the gym or doing high-intensity workouts might not be practical, or quite frankly, of interest, after a long and tiring day of work.


Staying strong, staying motivated - all year round

With the work-from-home era fizzling out into obscurity, some may lament the dreaded return of the office working days. But, there are some benefits to it, the biggest of which is increased socialisation – a crucial aspect of the human condition.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic separating us physically, it showed that we can’t live isolated from each other. The mantra “We’re all in this together” echoed throughout, as people banded together against the virus and eventually conquered it.

Similarly, in the workplace, socialisation leads to increased efficiency and a more capable and complete work team. Through forming relationships outside of the work setting, employees feel more open to talking to each other, facilitating open, honest dialogue and increasing collaboration. Socialisation also leads to higher morality and naturally, the forging of friendships within the workplace, making the work environment safe and joyful, without compromising on productivity.

With all these factors considered, you might actually want to thank your bosses the next time you see them!

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