Do you spend most of your working hours in front of a desk and a computer? Then you might have some pain in your lower back, shoulders, neck or wrists. Doing yoga at the office can help you relieve stress, increase concentration and productivity and reduce physical ailments caused by lack of movement.
Looking closer at the physical aspect of it: sitting too much has been linked to health issues, including diabetes, obesity, cancer and early death. Simply put: try some office yoga before your job kills you.
The link between sitting too much and illness came in the 1950’s when bus drivers were found to be more likely to have heart attacks. Makes sense, right? Less activity, hindered blood flow, weaker muscles.
Anyway without getting too dark and gloomy, lets move on to what you can do within the walls of your office.
Doing yoga regularly can increase the flexibility of your spine, strengthen your muscles and release muscle tension and it can also calm your mind. Mental stress is linked to physical stress. Next time your mind is racing, take a second to observe your stomach area. Generally, when we stress out, we tense the muscles in our abdomen. Relax these muscles and you may notice your mind relaxing too. Focusing the attention inward as we do in yoga allows us to find a calm center within ourselves, where we are unaffected by the past or future. We can just calmly enjoy the present. In the Western world yoga is increasingly being prescribed by healthcare specialists.
Below are some poses you can easily do at work. Try them out and let me know. If you want to know more about poses you can do in the office, I will be offering a class on office yoga in the near future. Contact me for more details. 🙂
Side Stretch: This pose is good for the spine which gets compressed all day by sitting. The muscles at the sides also get a good stretch, including the hip area here too. You can remain seated to do this pose, but it is better if you do it standing.
- Stand up and raise your arms overhead. Grab your left wrist with your right hand. Inhale and extend the spine making yourself tall. Make sure you aren’t tensing your shoulders here.
- Arms are raised, but shoulders are going down and back, away from your ears.
- As you exhale, keeping your legs and hips in place, tighten your abs a little and try to straighten your lower back, lean your body to the right side and lengthen your left side.
- Stay there and breathe into any points you feel tension, relaxing on the exhale. Inhale and come back to the center.
- Switch hands, so this time you are grabbing your right wrist with your left hand, exhale and lengthen to stretch the other side.
Eagle Arms: A great pose to create space between your shoulder blades, stretching the sides of your back as well as the wrists. Especially good for those of us who use a mouse or keyboard all day. This one can also be done sitting down or standing up.
- Extend your arms out to either side and then bringing them back towards the center, cross the left arm under the right arm. Try to tuck your right elbow towards the eye of your left arm.
- Bend your elbows bringing your forearms vertically up towards your face.
- If you can, touch your palms on each other, or otherwise the backs of your hands.
- Now move this frame up and away from your face. You should feel space being created between your shoulder blades. This is great for those of us who sit all day and slouch our shoulders down.
- Come out of the pose a little if you feel a sharp pain or tingling in your fingers.
- Once you come out of the pose, stretch your arms out to either side and press your hands into the air as if there were walls on either side of you. Stay for a moment and then relax 🙂
Forward fold: This is a good one to release lower back tension, again for those who sit a lot. The lowest part of the spine carries the greatest amount of weight when we sit with bad posture. Stand up to do this pose. Folding forward like this creates space in the lower back by stretching it, but also in the hip joint and the hamstrings.
- Inhale, extend your spine/back upwards, keeping your neck in one line with your back, chin tucked in slightly towards your chest.
- Bend your knees slightly.
- Exhale, fold forward, allowing your arms and neck to relax down towards the floor. Try to bend from your hips rather than your back.
- You will feel a stretch in your hamstrings here too. If they hurt, just bend your knees even more.
- Shake your head as if to signal yes, and to signal no. just let it all loose.
- Roll up slowly with the inhale to avoid getting dizzy.
Energy Balancing: This is good for those moments where you might feel nervous before a meeting or conversation, when you feel overwhelmed or easily distracted. This pose can even be done on the toilet! It is a good one when you are in a quiet and secluded space.
- Place your left hand on your right ribs about a hand space below your armpit.
- Bring your right arm up vertically next to your head and bend it at the elbow. Hold the base of your head with your right hand to support the weight of the head and the neck.
- Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths in and out. Try to focus on the feeling of the breath filling your body. You can keep going until you feel calm.
- Slowly open your eyes when you are ready.
There can be days when we don’t feel like doing any physical exercise and everything at work seems overwhelming too. These simple exercises can help keep you fitter and happier and they don’t take much time at all. You can do them while waiting for the coffee machine or the kettle to boil. My teacher always suggested doing the forward fold while sitting at my desk at work if things got too stressful. Your colleagues might think you are a bit silly but it is super relaxing and good for you!
Want to know more about office yoga? Contact me to sign up for my upcoming office yoga class.
Photo credits: Ernst van Deursen