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How translators can benefit from yoga

By Sofia Pulici

Yoga has been a part of my life for nearly six years now. I was first drawn to yoga as a teenager. I liked the fact that it enables you to strengthen and calm the body and mind, and connect with yourself – but it was not until 2010 that I started practising yoga regularly.

Back then, I had no idea that I would benefit so much from it, and that regular practice would have such an enormous impact on all aspects of my life, including my work routine. Yoga has helped me to become much more aware of my body and mind.

As a consequence, I started making changes to my sitting posture and the position of my hands on the keyboard, while working. I noticed that my mind was calmer to reply to emails, communicate with direct clients, colleagues and agents, and reflect on translation options.

What amazes me the most is that this all seemed to happen naturally – as my mind became more alert and more aware of what was happening, I started to become more aware of my sitting posture, how my back is supported, how my hands bend or move while typing etc. This awareness allows me to make instant adjustments, paying heed to what my body or mind is trying to tell me.

For some time now, I have been keen to share all this information with my colleagues and fellow translators, so that those interested in starting this practice might also benefit from it. Below are some of the benefits that can be gained through regular yoga practice:

  • Releasing tension: as translators, we know all about tension, right? Tension can build up in the shoulders, neck and back muscles, in the eyes, even in the brain.
  • Releasing stagnant blood: translators sit for long hours and, and even if we take regular breaks and do physical exercise, we may forget about parts of the body that we do not move constantly.
  • Lubricating joints, including hip joints: this improves mobility (remember we experience long periods of sitting!) and helps prevent injuries.
  • Strengthening muscles: In particular, yoga can help strengthen the back and core muscles, which helps when sitting for long hours.
  • Irrigating the brain: excellent for the long hours of mental processing required of translators.
  • Stretching the muscles and spine: also good when sitting for long hours, as it helps align the spine, and causes energy and blood flow better.
  • Massaging internal organs: helping maintain perfect health of the organs, particularly in the lower abdominal region, which are compressed when we remain sitting for long hours.
  • Balancing and integrating the right and left hemispheres of the brain: positively influencing cognitive processes, helping with concentration and focus, and enabling us to learn better.
  • Releasing wind from the body: which, depending on the foods we eat, can accumulate with long hours sitting down.
  • Strengthening eye muscles: with eye cleansing techniques that strengthen the eyes and maintain eye health.

Yoga is beneficial for the mind and it helps reduce anxiety and increase concentration. A clearer, calmer mind can be helpful when negotiating with clients or tackling stressful projects. I have learned that, instead of getting anxious or stressed over something a client has said, I am able to react more calmly and consciously.

Yoga is not just about assuming certain body postures (called asanas). Other practices, such as meditation, yoga nidra(full body relaxation and deep state of consciousness), pranayama(breathing practice), and mantra chanting can all help you connect with your body and mind.

Some important notes about yoga:

  • Yoga is not something miraculous or supernatural. Yoga helps you become aware of your body and mind and remove the layers (misleading thoughts, habits, patterns) that hide your true essence.
  • Although it is not something supernatural, yoga is a serious, subtle practice and should be practised with the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor who is serious about the tradition.
  • In order to gain the full benefits, you need practice yoga regularly. It is better to have two regular weekly sessions than to practice yoga sporadically, or at irregular intervals.

Sofia Pulici is a linguist (MA Applied Linguistics) and a NAATI/ABRATES accredited Portuguese/English translator with 10 years’ experience. As a yoga practitioner since 2010, Sofia is committed to improving her yoga learning and techniques. She has studied Vedanta since October 2015 and has been learning the Sanskrit language. Sofia is also currently enrolled in a yoga training program. This article was originally published on the Carol’s Adventure in Translation blog and is reproduced with permission.