The need for anti-stress practices has become increasingly urgent. Americans now work nine full weeks more per year than our peers in Western Europe. And even if we get time off, we don't always use it: At least 30 percent of employed adults don't take all their vacation days, according to a recent poll. Each year, Americans hand back 421 million days to their employers. Constant emails and ever-increasing workloads have too many of us working through lunch and staying late, yet still feeling as though we can never catch up. The upshot, say experts, is that we're overscheduled, overworked, and just plain overwhelmed.
So how do you shift your perceptions so you no longer feel like a rubber band about to snap? That's where yoga comes in. The yamas and niyamas can help in mundane ways. Cleanliness (saucha) can help you get your desk in order and not double-book your calendar; surrender (Ishvara-pranidhana) can teach you that you can't control everything.
But the main reason for reflecting on these principles is to know yourself more deeply, so you can design your days in a way that suits you. If you know you get exhausted by long stretches toiling in artificial light and stale office air, for instance, you might approach your boss about working from home one day a week. At a minimum, make a point of going outside for a walk before tackling an afternoon of back-to-back deadlines.