The Power of the Midday Practice

For whom is this blog written?

I want to note that not everyone has the luxury to work from home. The work-from-home workforce hopefully is alert to their privilege in this arena.

So, before diving into this blog for them, I want to say that I have been a shift worker, a retail worker, and someone whose work cannot be done from home in some capacity almost all of my life. To those of you in situations that don't allow for location or scheduling flexibility, I see you and I want to encourage you to make your exercise and meditation time ANY time you can fit it in.

Reclaiming those aspects of our well-being on OUR agenda can be incredibly empowering especially if you are in a situation where you are punching the literal or metaphorical clock.

Love you! - Julia

With more people working from home I assumed that people would quickly abandon their normal schedule and embrace something more curated to their actual life. To my surprise 9-5ness hasn't quite been broken its allure despite the fact that office lights have been out for months. The standard workday has a stronghold on our psyche despite the fact that it may not match very well to our most optimal energy expenditure.

However every Friday for several weeks I have hosted a mid-afternoon practice and it has only grown in popularity since it began. The practice is always abbreviated, less than 60 minutes, but it still incorporates all of the elements that makes a yoga practice special: mindful movement, breath work, and meditation.

I've spoken to a few people who regularly attend and shifted through the feedback and a few common themes for these midday warriors have come up.

Mindset experts would agree with much of what they have to say. Here's why you might want to join the ranks of the midday practitioners.

1) Exercise Is Like a Cup of Coffee... Without Staying Up All Night.

Physical activity can be just as potent as a cup of coffee at energizing the body and jumpstarting the mind. Everyone has been victim of the midday slump and perhaps has even reached for a soda, coffee, or caffeinated tea to get through the remaining work hours.

But caffeine consumed too late in the day is known to disrupt sleep patterns. Even if you manage to fall asleep you are likely to sleep less deeply, more likely to be restless, and may be easier to startle suggesting you're not really entering a deep sleep.

2) Taking Breaks Increases Productivity

Exercise before going to work is great... if you can manage to do it. But stopping in the middle of your day for a yoga flow, a walk, or a sweat session with weights can actually improve your performance at work, and it provides a much needed brain-break that will kickstart your creative juices.

Even in 'normal' office settings the lunch break started to become somewhat of a myth. Offices replaced them with working lunch meetings. Working parents very often attempt to eat at the desk while doing other work so that they can scoot out to pick up the kids without 'losing an hour'. And without careful control, many office cultures picked up a bad habit of empowering a false narrative that correlates minimal breaks with maximal performance. Though that couldn't be farther from the truth.

A recent study that examine employee attitudes towards lunch breaks showed that those who stuck to their break schedule noted more job satisfaction, increased wellbeing, and felt they were more efficient in their tasks.

3) It Overrides Your Brain's Natural Stress Response

When a brain is focused on a task - like your job - for an intense amount of time it will naturally begin to seek ways out of the stress.

In fact studies show that those who are most productive at work are not the people who grind away at a task until it is done, but rather set up regular and disciplined breaks while working on the project so that they can navigate their energy and creativity optimal until they bring the project to completion. The reason this works is because our brains are naturally toggling between high activity and low activity as a preservation technique to fight fatigue. After about an hour of stressful work, the brain is going to seek some relief.

Perhaps it is already doing this. Check the tabs on your computer or apps on your phone. How often after you unconsciously tuned out and began scrolling - right in the middle of doing something you would otherwise deem important? Rather than allowing your brain to go on an auto-pilot break, schedule it in for yourself.

Why not allow for lunch to occur on one of your shorter breaks then allow for physical movement and meditation to occur on a longer break?

Making more meaningful break times, when you are truly disconnected (no social media, no email checking, no texting) you can allow your brain to fully relax. Then, when it is time to come back to your project you will feel fresh.


Julia Lopez is the founder of Practice Everywhere and co-founder of Honest Soul Yoga studios. She is a lifelong student of yoga coming to the practice as a teenager, and teaching most of her adult life. In addition to teaching on and in studio she is also a featured yoga teacher and fitness instructor on Amazon Prime Video.

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