As your hitch offshore goes on your energy level slowly depletes.
The shifts, the demands of your job, the socializing aspects, and the lack of days off duty, they all take their toll on your sleep. It’s hard to stay focused and energized. Thankfully, there are ways to stimulate your body and mind without having to put yourself on a coffee drip!
Moving our bodies can really help by giving us a boost, as exercise and even simple stretches stimulate the release of endorphins, the “feel good” molecules.
Yoga is a great form of movement, that can be done in a small space, and low to the floor should you be experiencing a big swell, and through the poses, breathing techniques and relaxation, we are working with both sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of our autonomous nervous system.
More often, we tone the parasympathetic part, the one that plays an important role against the stress response, slowing our body down.
The sympathetic nervous system however, is the one that speeds things up, making you more alert…So stimulating the sympathetic part, you guessed it, is super useful when we need an energy boost! And for that, we can use different techniques.
Using the Breath
Taking a very sharp inhale, holding our breath for as long as we can, then slowly exhaling will build-up CO2 (carbon dioxide) in your blood.
Your body has receptors monitoring the gases in your blood, that in turns alert specific neurons in your brain which will then turn on the sympathetic system: it’s a “danger” response. “CO2 is high, something’s wrong, be alert!”
Another breathing technique, called Kapalabhati, which is considered to be a cleansing technique in yoga, has a similar effect. It consists of taking sharp and forceful inhales and exhales, with no pause in between. This is not part of my personal practice as it makes me feel dizzy. And indeed, it can lead to dizziness, vertigo and raise your blood pressure, therefore it’s recommended that you check with your physician before trying it.
Using the Body
We can “hack” our sympathetic nerves, and more specifically, the splanchnic nerves, the ones emerging through our thoracic spine. Back bends, or often called “heart openers” in yoga, are poses that stimulate this region by extending the spine, and thus, help in giving us a boost. Poses such as Sphinx and Cobra, standing stretch, chest shining to the sky, will help in making you feel more awake and empowered.
Want to give it a try?
Sphinx pose: come and lie on your front and place your forearms on the ground, elbows as close to you as you can. Bring the belly button in, press through the hands and elbows, press the pubic bone down and broaden the chest. Cobra: start in Sphinx, then straighten the arms to lift the upper body from the mat. Hips stay down onto the mat. You can then move into Upward Dog, by pressing the top of the feet into the mat, straightening your legs to lift the hips off the ground. Standing stretch: Interlace your fingers behind you, take a deep inhale then exhale as you straighten the arms and squeeze the shoulder blades together. If you can’t interlace the fingers, you can place your hands in the low back, fingers pointing down, squeezing shoulder blades and elbows towards each other. Breathe deep in and out through the nose and hold for 5-10 breaths each, always keeping the deep core engaged sucking the navel in, so you protect your lower back.