Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could spend their day moving, stretching, and pressing into downward facing dog? In reality, the majority of us spend most of our day seated at a chair, desk, or in a car.
Studies show that productivity increases and work-related stress decreases when we get up and stretch or walk every 60-90 minutes. So to help you out, here are some simple, easy poses you can do while seated at your workstation.
This can be done seated in your office chair or, if it’s not too weird for you, seated on the floor with the legs crossed.
If you are seated in your chair, take your shoes off and plant your feet firmly on the floor, pressing into all ten toes and your heels. Activate the muscles of your legs, moving up from calves to inner thighs, aligning the legs hip-width and the knees bent 90 degrees to the ankles.
Next, activate Mula Bandha, squeezing the muscles of the pelvic floor and slightly tucking the tailbone under. Engage the core muscles, lengthening through the abdominals and middle back. Pull the rib cage in and down. Relax the shoulders, rolling them back and down.
Relax the arms on your thighs or knees, palms up. Slightly tuck the chin to lengthen the back of the neck. Close your eyes and breath deeply to fill the lungs, expanding the rib cage. Hold 5-10 breaths.
2. Seated Spinal Twist
From sukhasana, find an easy spinal twist. If you are using a chair, rotate to the right, allowing your right hand to find the back or base of the chair as a pivot point, and the left hand comes to the outer thigh.
Rotate through the lower, middle, and upper spine, eventually looking over your shoulder to complete the spinal twist in the cervical spine. Inhale to grow taller and lengthen the spine. Exhale, and twist deeper, keeping the feet firmly planted and equal distance between feet and knees. After 5-10 breaths, change sides.
3. Supported Uttanasana
Coming back to the center, open the legs wider than the hips. You may need to come forward on the chair. Stretch the arms up to the sky, and gently fold forward, bringing your abdomen between the thighs and the head below the heart. The hands can fall to the floor or reach for the ankles or shins. This gentle inversion is great for fatigue! Let the head hang heavy, releasing all muscle tension in the neck. Close your eyes and breath deeply 5-10 times before slowly coming back up.
4. Gentleman’s Chair
Planting the right leg firmly into the floor, cross the left ankle over the right knee. Sit tall, and slowly allow the hip to open. You can apply gentle pressure to the left knee, stopping if you feel the pelvis tip or tilt. Rotate the left foot at the ankle or flex and point the toes to improve circulation to the joint and relieve tension in the foot. Enjoy the stretch and change sides to even out your body.
This pose can also be done standing at the back of a chair for support. With your hands on the back of the chair, bring one ankle over the opposite knee (above the joint) and bend the knees to sit down.
This will give a deeper stretch to the opposite posterior hip and deeper gluteal muscles. Avoid straining the low back by keeping the spine in a neutral position and the pelvis slightly tucked under.
See if your office will support a lunch-hour yoga or meditation class! It sure beats checking your smartphone, personal email, or Facebook.
I work in a clinical office and we partition off the break room and turn out the lights during the first 20 minutes of the lunch hour for a gentle yoga sequence and Savasana. This practice brings the office staff together, eases stress, tension, and fatigue, and is a great way to spend your lunch hour!