If you spend your workday juggling appointments, crunching a budget and making phone calls, even the thought of finding time to relax can feel a little stressful. Yoga has been proven to promote mental relaxation, but how are you supposed to do a proper downward facing dog in the lunchroom without getting funny looks from your colleagues and staff? Luckily, there are several yoga poses you can do at or near your desk that require minimal movement. Staying seated all day can limit blood flow and cause pain in your spine, neck and wrists. Take a few minutes out of each day to get your blood flowing, and to re-focus your energies — with these simple exercises.
Seated Pigeon Pose
Do you ever get that numb or tingly feeling in your feet when you stand up to get your second cup of coffee at the office? If so, it’s a safe bet that you’re sitting with one leg crossed over the other, instead of resting both feet firmly on the ground. The pigeon pose helps stimulate blood flow in both legs, and aligns your hips and spine for optimal posture.
- Place feet flat on the floor.
- Keep your spine straight, and square your shoulders over your hips.
- Fold one leg at a right angle, resting its ankle over the opposite knee.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on either leg, as you shift from right to left, sustaining each side for up to 10 minutes of even, measured breath.
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
According to a recent article in The New York Times, 3 in every 100 workers will experience carpal tunnel syndrome at some point in their careers. This is an immediate risk for entrepreneurs who spend a lot of their time typing reports and tweaking spreadsheets. The seated eagle arms pose not only stretches you wrists and fingers to prevent cramping, it also broadens your shoulders to release tension in your upper back.
- With both feet flat on the ground, sit or stand with your spine and neck straight.
- Extend your arms in front of you, crossing your left arm under your right arm, and then bringing your hands toward your chin, so your forearms and elbows create a 90-degree angle.
- Using light pressure, elevate your arms to shoulder level.
- Maintain the pose for a series of inhalations and exhalations, allowing your chest and shoulders to expand as you breathe in.
Seated Cat/Cow Pose
This asana soothes stress by increasing airflow to your diaphragm. It also builds support from your lower back, up through your spine and neck to encourage healthy posture, and to prevent the typical shoulder and neck strain that comes from sitting at a desk all day. If done around lunchtime, this pose can help combat indigestion.
- While seated, plant your feet firmly on the ground, with your knees above your ankles, and your lower back slightly in front of the back of your chair.
- Begin with shoulders squared over hips, and spine aligned, head facing forward.
- Place hands on thighs, and gradually exhale as you pull your abdominal muscles back to your spine, curling your head downward like a cat arching its back.
- Inhale and bring your abdomen back outward, as you extend your spine and lift your head toward the sky, repeating the sequence as long as it feels comfortable.
This simple pose is often used at the start of a yoga practice because it’s effective in keeping you centered and focused. This can also benefit you at work.
- Stand with your shoulders above your hips, and your hips above your slightly spread feet.
- Keep your arms relaxed at your sides.
- Look straight ahead and focus on your breathing for eight measured breaths
These subtle, but effective asanas can make your workday much more relaxing, and can prevent discomfort in your shoulders, back and neck once you’ve left work. You can do them at your pace, performing them all at once on your lunch hour, or dividing them into smaller time segments to do between appointments throughout the day.
Joel Vento is the President of sales and marketing at Concept Seating, an ergonomic chair manufacturer. Concept Seating’s chairs are designed for high-stress work environments in a variety of industries. An employee since 1992, Joel has worked in a variety of departments at Concept. His team designed the 3150 dispatcher chair, one of Concept Seating’s most popular products.