The Importance Of Easy Yoga For Work + 5 Poses To Keep You Healthy
Working in an office environment can expose the body to different types of stressors—both physical and emotional. Physically feeling cramped and restricted while siting at a desk all day not only affects your productivity, but can ultimately cause long-term muscle stiffness, pain and has been proven to increase your risk of heart disease.
Taking a few simple steps to counteract those physical effects is beneficial in a number of ways for personal health and wellness, and in turn, businesses save or add to the health care program, injuries are prevented and the office morale increases overall.
So what are some ways to prevent this damage if you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk all day? Keena Alexander, a St. Louis-based yoga instructor who specializes in yoga for work, shares some tips and poses that only take a few moments out of your day to focus on yourself, increase your energy naturally and become a more productive worker—with or without the mat.
“As you practice balancing the body, be sure to be mentally, emotionally and physically in the moment,” explains Keena. “For all seated poses, start by sitting squarely in a chair, then gently pull the spine up towards the ceiling. Make sure feet are flat on the floor so that there is a connection to the earth. If possible, remove shoes and spread toes wide. Place a pillow or books underneath your feet if they don’t touch the floor.
“In all standing poses, start with your feet firmly planted to the earth, a comfortable distance apart and lift up through the center of your body to the crown of your head. Always keep your chest open, draw your shoulders back and downward—creating space between your shoulders and ears. This is the basis of good posture. Hold each pose from anywhere between three and five breaths. When each pose is released, the body should feel more open and relaxed, rather than in pain or stressed. Stop if you feel pain, stress or experience discomfort.”
Start with feet hip-width or at a comfortable width apart—balancing weight equally between feet. Make sure feet are parallel. Pull the spine up gently towards the sky. Slide shoulder blades down, creating space between the shoulders and ears. Turn palms forward and spread fingers wide. Inhale and exhale deeply through the nose for at least three rounds of breath. This pose centers the mind, which increases focus.
SIDE ANGLE STRETCH
Begin in Mountain Pose. Interlace your fingers and stretch your arms up toward the ceiling with palms turned inward. Reaching evenly through all sides of the torso, take a deep inhale and feel your body stretch and expand. Exhale and lean to your right, feeling the left side of your body stretch and wake up. Inhale back to center, then exhale and repeat to the left. This pose generates energy and improves digestion.
ANKLE TO KNEE POSE
While seated in a chair, pull the spine up gently towards the ceiling. Slide shoulder blades down the back—creating space between the shoulders and ears. Make sure legs are at a 90-degree angle with ankles right under knees. Place a pillow or books underneath your feet if they don’t touch the floor. Cross an ankle over the opposite knee. Make sure to flex the feet to protect the knees. Repeat with opposite leg. This pose is especially good to do following a stressful situation by centering the mind, which increases focus.
SEATED CAT COW
While seated in a chair, pull the spine up gently toward the ceiling. Slide shoulder blades down the back—creating space between the shoulders and ears. Make sure legs are at a 90-degree angle with ankles right under knees. Place hands on hips. Inhale the chest up toward the crease where the ceiling and the wall meet. Exhale the chin toward the chest and arch the spine. This pose creates energy by increasing blood flow.
Begin in Mountain Pose. While inhaling, reach back to an place your ankle into your hand and exhale while kicking up with the foot in hand while bending forward at the hip. Use the free hand to balance on a chair or desk. Be sure to pull the hip of the balancing leg back to keep the body squared. Repeat with opposite leg. This pose promotes overall body stability and sense of balance.
If you are interested in booking a personal or at-work session with Keena, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase the Yoga Design Lab yoga mat pictured in this shoot, find a full range of designs on Amazon.com.