How do you breathe in a circular manner?


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Karin Matko from the Institute of Psychology at Chemnitz University of Technology shows how stress can be better reduced and prevented by combining meditation and yoga exercises - video and audio files make the exercises easier

    Many of us sit in front of the screen from morning to night - even more often now than before. In times of the corona pandemic, we can hardly leave the house. Many leisure activities between sport and culture are also omitted. "Yoga and meditation in the workplace can help us to maintain and strengthen our physical and psychological balance," says Karin Matko, research assistant at the Professorship for Research Methodology and Evaluation of Psychology at the Technical University of Chemnitz. The trained yoga teacher has been researching the effects of yoga and meditation for several years. “There are now countless studies around the world that prove the positive effects of yoga or meditation,” she says. "We were also able to show in one of our own studies that the combination of meditation and yoga exercises in particular can reduce and prevent stress particularly effectively."

    Based on research results at the Institute of Psychology, Karin Matko has put together what she sees as ten most effective exercises that interested parties can easily incorporate into their everyday home office or study routine and thus provide a healthy variety:

    1. Deep breathing - Many people underestimate the importance of deep and complete abdominal breathing. With a few deep breaths you can replenish your energy reserves immediately and feel fresh and alert again. You can do this while sitting or, even better, standing - in front of the open window or outdoors. As an additional impulse, you can move your arms up and down in a circle in rhythm with your breathing.

    2. The warrior - Take a long lunge and bend your front leg. Let the pelvis sink far down. Keep your arms stretched out and parallel to the floor. Take a deep breath and look straight ahead. This exercise gives strength and confidence, it strengthens and stretches the legs. Repeat on the other side.

    3. The dancer - This exercise trains balance and is also said to strengthen the immune system. Stand up straight and put your weight on your left leg. Bend your right leg and grasp your right foot with your right hand. Now stretch your left arm straight up and bend your body a little bit forward. Pull your foot back a little and stretch your upper body. Look ahead and focus. Hold the exercise for a few deep breaths, then switch sides.

    4. Eagle arms - This exercise can be done while sitting or standing. To do this, cross your arms in front of your chest and try to knot your arms as best you can. Now consciously pull your shoulders down and your elbows a little bit forward. Close your eyes and breathe into the area between your shoulder blades, which is now experiencing a wonderful stretch. Hold this position for a moment and repeat the exercise on the other side.

    5. Meridian expansion - This exercise is perfect for balancing desk work. Stand up. Your feet are parallel and wide apart. Now cross your hands behind your back. The arms remain as straight as possible or can even be pulled away from the body. Make sure not to stand in a hollow back and gently tilt your pelvis forward. Now take a few deep breaths in your chest. If you want, you can now bend straight forward and let your arms fall over your head. Hold and then slowly dissolve again.

    6. Lateral bend - Stand with your legs apart, bring your hands together in front of your chest, and then straighten both arms straight up. Stand like this and take a deep breath. As you exhale, bend gently to the left without twisting your upper body. With the inhalation you come back to the center and with the next exhalation you stretch to the right side. This exercise is always done alternately and in the rhythm of breathing.

    The next exercises can be carried out comfortably while sitting and at any time to relax.

    7. Passive fish - This exercise is best done in a firm, relatively low-backed chair. Sit up straight and lean back over the back of the chair. You should be able to lay down comfortably. Let your arms hang loosely down and, if you are comfortable, your head as well. You can now stretch your legs and just relax. Breathe deeply into your chest and make room in your chest.

    8. Swivel seat - Sit up straight. If necessary, slide to the front edge of the chair and anchor your feet firmly on the floor. Inhale while lifting your left arm. As you exhale, twist backwards and place your arm on either the chair or the back of the chair. You can place your right hand on your left thigh. Your torso is now turned back but still upright. This rotation takes the strain off your intervertebral discs and makes your back supple. Hold and then repeat on the other side.

    9. Gluteal stretch - Stay upright and now place your left foot on your right thigh. The left knee falls loosely outwards. You may already feel a stretch in your left buttock. To increase this stretch, bend forward over your legs with your back straight. Only go as far as your flexibility allows. Take a few deep breaths into your stomach, then break up the exercise again. Repeat on the other side.

    10. MeditationFinally, there are two meditation techniques to choose from that show positive effects on well-being, concentration and other variables:

    a. For the Humming meditation sit up straight, close your eyes and first watch your breath come and go. Then, as you breathe out, begin to hum softly like a bee, very calmly and evenly to the rhythm of your breathing. So hum for a few minutes. Then let the hum fade away and sit quietly for a while. Listen to the silence that follows the hum. (Audio file for this exercise)

    b. In the Walking meditation start standing. Stand up and feel yourself standing. Be very conscious of your feet and the contact with the ground. Now slowly and carefully lift your left foot and slowly push it forward. Then roll it back down on the floor and put your weight on your left side. Now lift and move your right foot in the same mindful manner. Walk through the room in slow motion and be aware of every little movement. Finally, it makes sense to stand still for a moment. (Audio file for this exercise)

    "Anyone looking for a balance in their home office, for example, should try to incorporate some of these exercises regularly into everyday work or study," says Matko. "Recurring breaks of only five to ten minutes can work wonders and have a positive effect on personal well-being and productivity in everyday life," says the expert on the combination of yoga and meditation.

    Multimedia: Those interested can find a summary of all exercises in a video on the Chemnitz University of Technology YouTube channel. An overview of the exercises is also included in this PDF for printing.

    additional Information issued by Karin Matko, phone 0371 531-37509, email [email protected]

    Mario Steinebach

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