Most of us spend considerable time sitting at a desk and/or working at a computer and let’s face it, our necks and shoulders get really cramped and tight. Those knots can begin tying up your mind as well as your shoulders. The antidote for me is frequent yoga breaks.
Here are a couple of poses that will help yo release that tension.
OFFICE YOGA Stretch and Relax while at your desk!
Arms Overhead – Great for releasing shoulder and neck tension that occurs during computer work.
With hands clasped together, turn palms toward knees. As you inhale, raise arms overhead. Continue softly breathing as you press through index finger mounds. Release shoulders towards kidneys. When ready, exhale and release arms.
Shoulder Release behind back – The anti-hunch-back pose! This pose not only opens the shoulders, but also the tight areas of the front of the upper chest. It teaches the shoulder blades to move separately from the thoracic spine. It may safely be practiced every day.
Sit with your buttocks pressed all the way back on the chair, your feet planted on the floor and your heart open. Inhale and lift the spine.
Reach both arms behind you, roll the shoulders back, and clasp your hands in a cupped position. If this is not possible or too intense of a stretch, use a strap between the hands.
On an exhalation, draw the hands down towards the floor. Do not project your lower ribs to do that. Only go as far as you can while maintaining a lifted spine.
If you can go further, on the next exhalation, draw the arms up and away from you. If that is not possible while sitting in your chair, go ahead and stand up.
Soften your gaze and be here for 5 – 10 breaths.
Release your arms and gently shake them to release tension.
Seated Spinal Waves -If you are feeling stiff and achy, try some spinal waves. The spinal waves gently move the spine releasing tension throughout the back of the body. As tension and knots are released, energy can flow in unimpeded waves of healing and rejuvenation throughout your entire system. Try them anytime you need a quick pick-me up during the day.
Sit with your buttocks on the middle of the seat with your ankles falling in line with your knees. Inhale and lift the spine. Place your hands palms down on your thighs. As you exhale, round the back draw the tail forward while pressing the navel towards the spine to engage your abdominal muscles. Tuck your chin gently stretching the back of the neck. Invite the shoulders to roll forward, away from the spine. Inhale and reverse the curve of the spine, lifting the chest and drawing the tail down and towards the back of the chair. Lift the chin and stretch the front of the neck. Roll the shoulders back and squeeze the inner shoulder blades toward the spine. Stretch the front of the torso as you release the belly. Lift and open the heart center.
Repeat 10 times.
Chair Twist – A lovely rejuvenating pose to refresh lagging energy and juice the spinal disks.
Sitting in a chair, ground the soles of your feet on the floor, sit slightly forward in the chair and lengthen the spine. Press the sit bones down to flatten and elongate the lowest part of the spine. Take your right hand on the back of the chair and your left hand should turn outward with the back of the hand resting on the side of the side of the right thigh. As you exhale, rotate your torso to the right. Invite the head along for the ride without any straining of the neck. Take several breaths as you continue deepening the twist. Unwind and repeat on the other side.
Chair Pigeon – A fabulous hip opener that is sometimes called the anti-sitting pose!
Sit in the chair with feet planted firmly on the floor and spine long. Pick up the right foot and place the ankle on the left thigh, toes pointing forward, right knee dropping towards the floor. There is now a triangular shape formed by the thighs and the right lower leg. The right knee may not drop very far. If you feel the stretch in the hip, you know you’re on the right track. If you feel discomfort or pain in the right knee, that’s a sign that you’ve gone too far. Practice this pose less intensely. On the other hand, if you feel comfortable, you can increase the stretch by lengthening the spine folding forward. Perhaps you’ll even be able to rest your forehead on your desk so you can take a brief cat nap with hip opening as a bonus! Meows optional.
Seated Cross Legged Twist - Practicing a variety of different twists will help to focus flexibility in a variety of areas of your spine. Seated Cross-legged twist is very helpful for the lower spine. Compare how it feels with Seated twist. Where do you feel the strongest twist?
Sit on a chair with knees hip width apart and ankles lined up with knees, toes pointing straight ahead. Cross the right leg over the left thigh. Invite the inhalation to lift the spine
On the exhalation begin to rotate the torso towards the right. Visualize the twist emanating from deep inside your core while fingers of breath are gently turning the body
On the inhalation, Hold the back of the chair with the right arm and place the left arm, palm rotated away from the body, alongside the right thigh
On the next exhalation counter-rotate the head so that you are looking over the left shoulder. Keep your gaze soft and chin in line.
On every inhalation, continue lifting the spine.On every exhalation rotate a little deeper. Do not lock the hips as you twist. Imagine a fluid body. It is!
After ten breaths repeat on the other side.
Seated backbend (Hands beneath hips) - Begin to compare the posture of folks in their seventies, their eighties, their nineties and those centenarians you meet. What happens to the spine? Try to incorporate daily back bending into your life. It will help to keep the front of the body open, facilitate more complete breathing, renew your energy, and lift your mood to boot!
Sit on front end of a chair with knees hip width apart, ankles lined up with knees, and toes pointing straight aheadPlace the palms of your hands (as much as possible) beneath your hips, fingers pointing towards your knees
On an exhalation through the nose, release the sit bones down onto the seat of the chair. You should feel the lower spine grow a little longer.
On an inhalation lift the vertebrae one after the other, moving up along the spine
On the next exhalation, lift the sternum (breastbone) and chin up towards the ceiling. Roll the eyes upwards. Do not hold the breath at this point, continue breathing.
On the next exhalation, release the shoulder blades down the back towards the kidneys
On the next inhalation continue lifting the spine and pressing it forward into the front of the body
On the next exhalation release the sit bones and the belly
Continue rotating through these checkpoints as you breathe into the backbend and feel the front body opening.
When you are done, slide the hands out from under the hips, place them on the thighs and sit quietly observing the effects of the stretch on your spine, heart, and breath.
Repeat all or any parts of the office yoga sequence as often as necessary while you’re working.