by Maria Ward
Are you spending too many hours hunched over your computer? Did you just get off the phone with a difficult client? Have you become entrenched in office politics? Are you nervous about an important meeting or presentation? Have you been concentrating on a difficult subject for too long of a time period? Instead of stressing out and causing your body to go into a fight-or-flight type of chemical reaction, which over time may lead to a feeling of dis-ease or worse, take a couple of minutes to release some tension.
[tag]Office yoga[/tag] can be done at your desk, in the break room, at the copy machine, or wherever you are comfortable. There is no need to change your clothing or fix your hair afterwards and you only need a couple of minutes to leave you feeling more centered, alert and feeling good.
Please remember that all movements should be comfortable. You want to feel the tension releasing and the muscle lengthening; however you should never push yourself to the point where you feel pain. If you have any physical limitations, be sure to make proper modifications. An integral part of yoga is to be present in your body and be aware of how you are feeling, so put your problems aside, at least temporarily, and be present in the moment. (It is amazing how perceived problems sometimes just seem to work themselves out when we get out of our own way.)
Here are a couple of simple stretches that you can do without leaving your desk:
Grounding & Centering:
From a seated or standing position, lengthen your spine so your head is over your heart, your heart is over your hips (if you are sitting, your feet should be flat on the floor – if you are standing your hips are over your knees and your knees over your ankles) and take several long, slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and let your belly expand, then exhale through your nose and allow your belly to contract as if you were pulling your navel to your spine. *This posture will hereinafter be referred to as neutral position.
From a neutral position, take a deep breath in and bring both arms overhead. Clasp your left wrist with your right hand and use your right hand to assist in a stretch of the left side as you bend to the right. Hold for a couple of breaths, come back to center and then repeat on the opposite side. Exhale as you allow your arms to return to your sides.
Starting in neutral position, bring the chin to the chest. Inhale and bring the right ear to the right shoulder. Exhale and bring your chin back down to your chest. Inhale and bring your left ear to your left shoulder. Exhale and bring your chin back down to your chest. Repeat several times on each side and return to neutral position.
Shoulder Roll Sequence:
Roll both of your shoulders several times forward and back. Ultimately bring your arms behind your head so that your hands are clasped and supporting the base of your skull. Lengthen your spine and open back by turning your chin toward the ceiling, being gentle on your neck and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for several breaths. (*This will help off-set some of the postural distortion caused by a computer monitor that is too low or hours of looking downward to do paperwork, however, avoid the spinal extension portion of this stretch if you suffer from a bulging or herniated cervical disc.) Then lengthen the spine back to center and gently bring your chin down to your chest using your hands to apply a pressure that is comfortable for you. Hold for a couple of breaths and then return to neutral.
From a seated position with a long spine, reach both hands to the right side of the chair (holding onto the arm of the chair is ideal) and allow the lower, middle and upper back to twist to the right. Look over your right shoulder. Elongate your spine as you increase the twist and make sure to breathe deeply in this pose. Come back to center and repeat on the other side. (*This pose is very nourishing to the spine but in the event of a spinal injury or if you are in your second or third trimester of pregnancy this should be practiced with due care.)
Back Roll Up:
From a standing position with feet about hip width apart, bend the knees – keeping the knees pointed in the same direction as the toes – and place your hands on your quadriceps. Starting at the lower back, inhale and roll the spine up, one vertebra at a time, neck is last. Repeat several times.
Standing Forward Bend:
From a standing position with feet about hip width apart, lengthen the spine and bend forward, coming out of the hips. Hold onto your elbows and lean forward. Hold this stretch at the level that you are comfortable. It is okay to bend the knees if you are less flexible. Otherwise try to straighten the legs and lengthen through the spine. You should feel a lengthening of the muscles of the back of the legs (the hamstrings). You may also feel a release of tension in the upper back. Gently shake your head to allow a greater release. Make sure to breathe fully and deeply as you are nourishing the brain in this inverted pose. If you would like to increase the intensity of the hamstring stretch, grab the back of your legs or even your ankles and pull your torso toward your legs. Remember, first lengthen the spine and then bend.
From a standing position, shift your weight to the left leg. Bend the right leg behind you, trying to touch the heel to the buttocks. Your right knee should be pointing toward the floor. You will feel a stretch in the front of the right leg (the quadriceps). Hold the stretch and take a couple of breaths and repeat on the other leg.
Try to take a couple of minutes, several times a day, to incorporate some stretching and relaxation into your daily grind. It will leave you feeling refreshed, revitalized and more productive.
About the Author
Maria Ward is a yoga instructor and Licensed Massage Therapist located in Miami, FL. Additional information and articles may be located at http://www.vitalityexpressed.com
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