Yoga in the Workplace

If a busy professional schedule won’t allow for daily, or even weekly yoga classes- why not try incorporating some yoga into the workday?

Work can be stressful and yoga is definitely a stress reducer.  Working a desk job and sitting at a keyboard for hours on end causes tightness in the hips and legs.  Likewise, one’s posture is often compromised and neck, back and shoulder pain often result.  Practicing yoga at work can help alleviate these ailments and allow a much needed moment to catch the breath.

The following series of yoga poses will help bring peace to the day and rejuvenate one’s spirit.  AND, these can all be done in a skirt!

Mountain Pose

All you have to do is stand up!  Mountain Pose is a great pose to develop concentration, coordination, balance and poise, strength and ground the body.  The pose brings the entire body into postural alignment, which can really help those who sit behind a desk for a living!

To begin Mountain Pose, stand tall.  Lift through the center of the body, beginning at the hips and proceeding all the way to the crown of the head.  Let the arms rest at the side of the body.  Close the eyes.  Turn the focus away from the sights and sounds in the workplace.  Concentrate on deepening the breath until it has become even and rhythmic.

Neck Circles

Upper bodies become tense when working/looking at a computer all day.  Releasing the tension in the neck will help relax the upper body and relieve any neck pain.

To release neck tension, sit with the chest lifted with the eyes gazing straight ahead. Grab a hold of one side of a chair with the right hand. Lean towards the left and on the next exhalation; drop the left ear towards the left shoulder. To increase the stretch, take the left hand and place it on the side of the head with fingers resting on the right ear.  On an exhalation, gently press down on the right side of the head.  Switch sides.

Cow Face Pose

When done seated on a yoga mat, Cow Face Pose is a deep hip opener, but it can be beneficial when done seated in a chair.  Despite being a deep stretching pose, the pose is very restorative.  This pose may be challenging for persons who have tight shoulders.

To come into Cow Face Pose, at work- without a yoga mat, sit in a chair.  Raise the right arm and while reaching behind the head, place the fingers to the nape of the neck. Reach the left arm behind your back and reach upwards, towards the right hand.  Join the fingers of the right and left hands, clasping them together. If unable to clasp, start by stretching the fingers towards one another.  On an exhalation, release from the pose.  Roll the shoulders and shake the arms out. Repeat on the opposite side.

Seated Spinal Twist

Spinal twists rotate, extend and align the spine.  Twists also increase blood circulation and oxygen supply to the entire skeletal muscular system.  A seated twist will remove stiffness from the spine, shoulders and neck and help prevent back strain.

To come into a seated twist, sit in a chair, with feet and knees together. On an inhalation, lift upwards, lengthening the spine.  On an exhalation, turn the body to the right. Place the left hand on the outer right thigh.  Reach the right hand behind the body while extending the fingertips. Take care to keep the shoulder blades down and away from the ears. Maintain the position for 3 to 4 breaths.  Lift through the center when inhaling and twisting deeper upon exhalation. Look over the right shoulder.  For an additional neck stretch, look down towards the floor.

Tree Pose

Tree pose, like Mountain Pose, develops concentration, coordination, balance and poise, strength and helps to ground the body.  The pose also improves circulation and respiration.

Begin in Mountain Pose.  If maintaining balance is challenging, stand with the back against a wall. Lift the right foot and place it either against the inner left ankle, calf or thigh.  Take care to avoid pushing against the knee.  Place the hands together in the center of the chest. Keep the hands steady or reach them upward towards the sky.  Lengthen and reach upward throughout the entire body.  On an exhalation, release the arms back to the heart.  Then release the right foot to the floor.  Repeat these steps on the other side.

Standing Backbend

Backbends stretch the legs and lower back muscles. The pose also increases blood flow, massages the organs and glands and loosens the joints.

Stand up. Lengthen throughout the body.  Draw the shoulder blades away form the ears.  Making fists with the hands, place the hands behind the back on either side of the low back.

Inhale and lift the spine upwards, while drawing the shoulders back.  Gaze forward- or if comfortable, towards the celling. Repeat 2 to 3 times.

Standing Forward Bend

Standing forward bends allow the blood to rush to the head, and not the feet, giving the cells a refreshing boost of oxygen.

Begin in Mountain Pose.  Rest the hands on the hips, exhale and bend forward from the hips.  Draw the belly inwards and lengthen the torso.  While keeping the knees straight, or keeping a soft bend in the knees, place the fingertips or palms on the floor in front of the feet.  If the floor is not within reach, cross the forearms and hold the elbows, dangling over the feet. Let the head hang loosely, allowing for the release of tension in the back and shoulder blades.  With each inhalation, try to lengthen the torso a little bit further.  On the exhalations, release more into the pose.  Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  To release from the pose, bring the hands back to the hips, and while hinging at the hips, stand up.  Take care not to roll the spine up to standing.

Cat & Cow Pose

Cat-cow tilts help open up the back and stretch the spine.

To begin, start with hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position with a neutral spine. On an inhalation, round the spine and curve up, rounding the back into cat pose. On an exhalation, arch the back and lift the chest to come into cow pose. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Sitali Breathing

This cooling breath is perfect on stressful days.  This breathing pattern cools your mind and encourages relaxation.

To perform this breathing pattern, sit in a chair with the eyes closed. Stick the tongue out and curl up its outer edges. (If the tongue won’t curl, simply try to form an “o” shape with the mouth.) Inhale through the mouth, letting the air pass over the tongue, feeling a cool breath, and then exhale through the nose.  Perform this breathing pattern for 3 minutes.

Sources:

http://www.beliefnet.com/Health/Healthy-Living/Yoga-Poses-for-Your-Workday.aspx

http://www.yogajournal.com/practice

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/07/yoga-desk-job