Making a good first impression isn’t really my thing. I feel nervous, my thoughts go in a million directions and I stop forming coherent sentences. Before an important interview so much more is at stake – I could be the best fit for a position, but my anxiety overpowers my confidence.
It usually doesn’t matter what I do before my interview. I study the position I’ve applied for and my interviewer, I outline and rehearse my main points and I leave my apartment at least twenty minutes early. Even after I arrive at the right office (early, but not too early) without spilling my coffee, my palms start to sweat, my body starts shaking and my breath gets short and shallow. I’m just a few minutes from hyperventilating. Of course, that’s about the time the person I’m supposed to meet walks in.
Hyperventilating stems from poor breathing – when you exhale more than you inhale. Healthy breathing exercises can stop or prevent hyperventilation in high-stress circumstances by balancing inhales and exhales. In yoga, pranayama breathing is used to control the breath and awaken prana, meaning life force.
Practicing pranayama breathing exercises to manage your breath will, in turn, manage your mood: it soothes anxiety, reduces depression and puts you back in control of your emotions. Practicing pranayama breathing is perfect right before an exciting interview. You can practice on the train, in your car or in the office’s waiting room.
Before an interview, sit in a chair with your back straight, place your arms wherever comfortable and shrug your shoulders away from your ears. Take a deep, slow breath through your nose to the count of 5. Take in one last sip of air and hold for 1. Then for another count of 5, exhale all the air slowly out through a small opening of your mouth. Repeat at least 10 times, or until your nerves settle down.