Now that sitting has been added to the list of health don’ts, those of us anchored to desk chairs could use a preventative tool or two to offset the ill effects of too much butt time. Not surprisingly, yoga cannot only provide a bit of movement, but stress relief as well.
Many yoga poses involve small movements that can easily be done seated and in small spaces. Something as simple as sitting crossed-legged on your chair is opening hips that are tight from a day of sitting. But stretching is by far the easiest thing to do, and lengthening is what the physically side of yoga is all about.
Stretch the arms overhead and reach the fingertips to the ceiling while inhaling deeply and exhaling completely. Add side bends with arms extended and follow your breath from side to ceiling to side for as many rounds as you have the time or inclination for at least once a day.
A chair makes an excellent prop. Grab hold of the armrest and twist from side to side. Remember to inhale before you twist and exhale as you begin turning.
Cat and Cow poses are another great set of poses that release tension while stretching the front and back bodies. Place your hands on your knees and as you exhale arch your back into the chair – just like a cat. On the inhale push your face, chest and belly forward – just like, well, as cow. Follow your inhales and exhales for five to eight breaths and shrug your shoulders up to your ears and release.
Another great hip opener is the seated variation of Thread the Needle. Place both feet on the floor and sit up tall. Take your right ankle and place it on top of your left knee and try to push the right knee towards the floor. Be careful of the knee, however, in yoga there is no such thing as a “knee stretch.” A pain in the knee always means “stop.”
The mind benefits from a bit of yoga as well during the day. Listening to music can be a great way to relax, but if you find that popular music is distracting, try a tune that is instrumental only or sung in a different language. I enjoy instrumental versions of favorite songs like the Beatles or Tool. Tunes sung in Irish or Sanskrit work for me as well. Experiment a bit. You might be surprised to find that the perfect mellow music is something you’d never thought you’d enjoy.
One of the most effective tools to combat lack of movement and stress is the easiest and most accessible tool we have – our breath. There is a reason why we are told from a young age to take a breath and count to ten when we are angry – it works. Concentrating on our breathing, and breathing slowly and evenly, is an effective way to slow our thoughts and our body down. Several times a day just stop and worry about nothing but taking a round or two or three of nice deep breaths. You might feel better for it.
What Do You Do?
Most everyone has a trick or two for getting through an eight-hour day. If not yoga, than what is your secret weapon? Share it with us.
Photo credit: New Office by Phiilie Casablanca