Contrary to all those studies that tell us how awful it is to remain sedentary from morning ’til evening, there are a few things you can do to keep your energy flowing and your muscles in tip-top condition without having to move too far from your desk. Should you, like us, find yourself sitting (and stressing) for more than 40 hours a week, we’ve enlisted our go to yoga expert, Valerie Kent of Prana Yoga, for some top yoga tips. Yoga poses at your desk, who’d have thought it?
Top tip: Set an alarm on your computer to prompt you to get stretching once every hour.
Seated Spinal Twist
My go-to pose while sitting at a desk is a Seated Spinal Twist. Here’s how to nail it.
Sit tall. Knees parallel. Place your left hand on your right knee or thigh. Place your right hand on your low back or used the back of the chair as a support. Inhale to lengthen your spine while softening the ribs and the belly. As you exhale twist to the right. The majority of the movement should be in the mid to upper back rather than the low spine. Take a few deep breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
Your desk is a great place to do a few neck stretches. Sit tall. Chin parallel to the floor. Reach the crown of your head towards the ceiling. On an exhale drop your right ear towards your right shoulder. Keep the shoulders level. Take five breaths. Inhale back to centre. Exhale your left ear towards your left shoulder. Keep the shoulders level. Take five breaths. Inhale back to centre. On the next inhale look up and lift the chin gently to open the front of the throat. Take five breaths. Exhale back to centre. On the next exhale, drop your chin to your chest. Take five breaths. Inhale back to centre.
Often we come to our yoga mats in the evening to help us let go of a stressful day. On a physical level the way we sit creates an enormous amount of tension in our bodies and we have to work extremely hard to unravel that tension and tightness on the yoga mat, particularly in the hips and shoulders. To make it a little easier for yourself make a few little adjustments to the way you sit.
If possible sit with your hips slightly higher than your knees with both feet firmly on the floor. Use a block or a cushion to evaluate you if you need it. Make sure your computer screen is directly at your eyeline and not too low or somewhere to the side of your desk. If you have the opportunity to stand as you work, do it.
We all have to walk around the office. Practice mindful walking. Rather than thinking about the next email that awaits you as you walk back to you desk, focus instead on the act of walking. Pay attention to your body as it moves. Feel each footstep on the floor. All the sensations in your body. The quality of your breath. Observe without judgment. You might find yourself feeling a lot calming mentally and physically softer when you return to your seat.
And whatever happens during the day don’t forget to breathe!
Valerie Kent, Prana Yoga