Sometimes your body needs a break during the day. A good stretch and some realignment is what you need to give you a bit of zest and resilience for the rest of your work-day.
A little yoga injection is what you need. No need to worry about whether you look professional or not, if you can’t find a quiet place for a few minutes never fear, you can do some of these at your desk!
1. Neck Stretch
An easy release for all the usual tension areas. This one can definitely be done at your desk!
Great for: Your neck, shoulders, back and spine.
Technique: Whether sitting or standing, straighten your back. Then bow your head, resting your chin on your chest. Next, bring your open hands together, interlocking your fingers, now rest your palms on the back of your head. Do not push, just be mindful as the natural weight of your hands gradually stretches the muscles in your back, neck and shoulders. You may wish to extend this exercise by resting your right ear into your right shoulder and resting your right hand on the side of your head, again not pushing, just letting gravity do its work. Then, of course, repeat on the left side.
This is a great pose for anyone who sits at a desk when at work; this pose is particularly good for the lower back. Lower back pain is a common complaint from those working in the office environment, getting this pose in for a few minutes a day may go some way to improving your wellness at work.
Great for: Lower back, spine, hamstrings.
Technique: Standing is a must this time. Put your feet hip-width apart, soften your knees, and bend over to bring your chest up to your thighs. Softly grab your opposite elbows and now hang there, once again letting gravity do the work, forcing nothing. You should feel a gentle stretch spread from your lower back up to your neck. Hold this pose for two or three minutes.
This one is fantastic for around the office, you can do it anywhere in the workplace really; waiting at the photocopier or printer, waiting for the kettle to boil; waiting in line… anywhere you are standing up really! Super yoga pose for centring and balance.
Great for: Calves and ankles.
Technique: Stand. Put all your weight into one foot. Now take the other foot and place the sole of it, depending on how good your balance is, on either your ankle, just below your knee or your thigh. Now push down through to the floor with your standing leg, bringing your palms together in front of the chest. For extra balance find a spot to focus on, this will balance you.
You may need a touch more floor space for this one. The plank is a classic yoga pose, great for optimizing your core muscles, a bread-and butter pose for amateurs and professionals alike!
Great for: Core, abdominals, back, arms and wrists.
Technique: Begin by getting on to all fours; make sure your knees are hip-width apart and that your arms are stacked directly below your shoulders. Now, keeping your arms aligned to your shoulder as they are, extend your legs backwards, balancing on your toes. Now look directly ahead, being mindful of your back and abdomen; make sure you do not dip or slouch. Hold this for 30 seconds, and repeat as many times as you like.
5. Seated Twist
This is a fantastic stretch for your back and a great way to realign your spine. It’s also supposed to be good for digestion as is serves as massage for your abdominal organs.
Great for: Back, abdominals and spine.
Technique: Sit down, stretch out one leg and bend the other at about 45 degrees to the floor, your foot flat on the ground. Inhale and twist your body towards the bent leg. Now bring your arm over the bent leg and press against the knee to enhance the stretch. To enhance the stretch even further, see if you can bring your head round to gaze in the direction of the back shoulder.
6. Forward Fold
This simple yoga pose is another excellent stretch for the wellbeing of your lower back.
Great for: Lower back, spine, hamstrings.
Technique: Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs stretched out in front of you. Now inhale, bringing your arms above your head. Next, fold over, bringing your chest towards your knees, and try as best you can to touch your toes.
It sounds odd, but it is essentially lying down! Having said that it is lying down with presence and mindfulness thrown in as well. It is an excellent way to end your day at work (or any yoga practice) and an opportunity to take a mindful moment before you move on to your evening activities.
Great for: Back, spine, shoulders, neck and breath.
Technique: Lie down, your arms loosely at your sides with your palms facing upward. Let your body release into the floor. Be mindful of your body, noticing any aches or tensions, and letting them relax. Breathe deeply and slowly, pausing slightly before each exhalation.
Try to pop one or more of these into your daily activities; it is a simple thing to do, you may barely notice it. What you will notice is the difference it makes to your wellness, your ability for resilience throughout the day and the tension you used to hold in your body. Good luck!
By Chris Thomson
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