As you may have picked up from my previous articles, I firmly believe yoga can benefit you in a number of ways. Aside from the metaphorical life lessons that can be gleaned from learning about the yoga philosophy, the physical practice of yoga can have a healthy impact on your body, mind, and work performance.
Whether you work in an office setting or spend your days out in the field, it’s likely you may experience some ups and downs during the workday. At times, you may feel energized and at the top of your game; at others you may find yourself feeling stressed, run down and having difficulty concentrating (3:00 p.m., anyone?). Rather than giving yourself a short-lived boost of energy with a sugary snack or shot of caffeine, why not spend your lunch hour or break treating your body to some of these effective yoga poses? Not only will they boost concentration and manage work-related stress, I promise they will have you feeling fresh, relaxed, and perhaps a little more flexible in no time at all!
1. Arm stretches
If you spend the majority of your day in front of a computer or are someone who carries stress in your upper back, you are probably familiar with the feeling of tense shoulders and stiff elbows. To address this tension, I encourage you to try arm stretches. These simple poses can easily be done anywhere and will help reduce soreness, get your blood flowing, and leave you feeling renewed!
What to do: Stand in an upright position and ensure you have plenty of room to stretch your arms straight up above your head. Bring your arms around to your back and if possible, clasp them together (you can also use a tie or a scarf if you find this too difficult). When you’ve secured your hands, lift your arms as high as you can. Hold for around 45 seconds and then repeat. After two sequences, place your arms in front of you and interlock your fingers. Stretch out in front of you with your palms facing forwards. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly begin to raise them up over your head while keeping your elbows as straight as possible. Hold for 45 seconds and repeat.
2. Chair twist
This is another versatile exercise, as regardless of where you work, you can likely easily find access to a chair! The combination of deep breaths and side stretches in this twist will help to release tension in your spine.
What to do: Sit facing sideways with your left hip touching the back of the chair. Ensure both feet are firmly flat on the floor, keep your knees together and grip the back of the chair with your palms. Once in position, straighten your spine while taking a deep breath. While exhaling, slowly twist your body towards the back of the chair using your left hand to push and your right hand to pull. Repeat three times before switching sides.
3. Neck rolls
If you suffer from headaches, neck tension and tight shoulder muscles, a daily dose of neck rolls could work wonders for your workplace health and wellbeing.
What to do: This move is all about relaxation so if you’re wearing high heels or a tight neck tie, take them off! Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes and let your chin drop down naturally towards your chest. Make a semi-circular motion with your head very slowly, trying to get your right ear as close to the right shoulder as possible without causing too much strain. Then reverse the motion, bringing your chin toward your chest, then rolling the left ear toward the left shoulder. Complete five rolls in each direction. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and if you hit any tight areas, be sure to take it slow and try to work out the tension.
4. Seated mountain pose
This move is wonderful as it helps to regulate your breathing, energize your upper body and stretch your chest area.
What to do: Sit upright on your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Interlace your fingers and raise your arms over your head while slowly inhaling. Hold for a few seconds before exhaling while bending your elbows down to form a ‘w’ shape. Release the pose and then repeat three to five times.
5. Ankle over knee pose
If you feel like you need to take five minutes to relax and clear your head, this sequence is perfect. The stretching element will energize your body while the focus on breathing is extremely calming.
What to do: Find a quiet spot where you can sit down with plenty of space to stretch. With your legs stretched out in front of you, cross your right ankle over your left knee while keeping your spine as straight as possible. Hold this pose while taking five deep breaths and concentrating on feeling your lungs fill with air. Switch sides and continue to repeat until you feel wonderfully relaxed.
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