All photos by: Dale Capa | Model: Margaux Lim
When you find yourself too busy to leave work or find it too late in the day to trek through the traffic for a yoga class, doesn’t mean you can’t bring your yoga practice in the office. For the corporate Urban Yogi’s out there, take your practice off the mat and into your office space!
If you’re job requires you to spend so much time seated on a desk (or in a coffee shop), locked in the same position for hours, this one’s for you. Moving your joints every now and then may help create better range of motion, decrease tension in muscles and improve your overall well-being. Set reminders on your phone, spread these yoga exercises out throughout the day and try these poses in the comfort of your own office space.
1) NECK STRETCHES
When you’ve been on your desk for hours, you may begin to notice tension building up in your neck and shoulders. Try these neck stretches for a quick relief and release the tension you might be feeling in that area. Take your time as you bring your head towards the different directions and linger for 30 to 60 seconds per side. Allow your head to feel heavy and feel free to explore smaller movements that might bring a better release in the sides and back of your neck. For more neck stretches, click on this UrbanYogi article on neck and shoulder care.
2) WRIST MOBILITY
Keep your wrists healthy and explore it’s range of motion. Take time to spread your fingers out wide and close them in fists every now and then as a break from all the typing that you do in your laptop and mobile phones. You can do these other stretches while seated or standing as shown in the photos below.
Stand in front of your desk and flip your hands so that your fingers face your hips. Apply a bit of weight to stretch the top part of your forearm.
While seated, extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing forward and use the other hand to gently draw the fingers and palm back taking your wrists in extension.
3) TAKE A TWIST
Sit up nice and tall and turn towards one side to rotate your spine in a twist. You may use the back rest of the chair to create a bit more leverage in your twist.
4) STAND UP AND STRETCH
If you’re job requires you to sit on a desk or you have a number of meetings in a day, all you need is a minute in between to bring some space in your spine after it’s been compressed from being seated.
Stand up and interlace your fingers and reach your arms up high. Feel free to go into a very slight and mild backbend, reaching your arms towards the space behind you. Interlacing your fingers also stretches out the fingers, wrists and forearms.
Bring your arms in front of you and allow your upper back to round as if your pushing a wall in front of you. Notice the space between those shoulder blades as your back rounds and try to breathe into that space. Repeat these two movements a few times.
Add a sidebend after the first two moves. Firm your legs by pressing the thighs back and point your tailbone down. Use your hand to grab the opposite wrist, actively reach it upwards and take it to the side. Allow your hips to press into the other direction until your body looks banana like in shape.
5) FORWARD FOLD
Take a relaxing forward fold and fold over your legs. For a more passive stretch, keep your knees bent as you take the forward fold. Allow your head to be heavy and move your head from side to side.
6) OPEN YOUR SHOULDERS AND UPPER BACK
Place your hands on top of a table and walk back until your back becomes parallel to the floor and your hips above your ankles. Press your hands down and allow your chest to sink down towards the floor.
Another variation would be to place your upper arms and elbows on the table or somewhere higher like the edge of your cubicle wall.
7) GET INTO YOUR HIPS
Keep your hips happy by stretching them out in this easy seated stretch. Doing this on a chair will allow you to sit more upright and find more length in your spine. Cross one ankle over the opposite thigh, sit up nice and tall and allow that bent leg to reach downwards. Keep your back long as you start to fold forward. Don’t worry about folding deeply, important thing is to keep your spine as long as it can be and fold from the hip rather than your spine so that you can target the outer hips.
Because we’re seated all day, our hip flexors (front hip area) are always in a short position. To lengthen and stretch the front area of the hip. sit at the edge of your chair with the backrest on one side. Extend the other leg behind you but don’t worry if the leg doesn’t actually straighten out. If you visualize your pelvis as a bowl, you’d want the bowl to be upright to keep it from spilling forward. Lift your front hips upwards and then slowly work on extending the back leg further or reaching the heel back. For more hip stretches that can be done on a chair, read more here. Sitting all day can affect the integrity of your hip and tightness in this area may in turn affect your lower back .
These are ways to integrate yoga poses into your work life. And don’t be shy to do this stretches even if you happen to be working all day in a coffee shop! You’ll definitely benefit from moving your joints every now and then within the day than keeping your body locked in the same position for hours.
Nica Hechanova De Erquiaga teaches vinyasa flow, community yoga and kids yoga at Urban Ashram Yoga. She’s illustrator and graphic artist who recently published a yoga book for kids called Amazing Me (which she shamelessly plugs into her article *wink wink* ). Oh, and she’s editor of www.urbanyogi.ph . Follow @amazingmeyoga on instagram.