Believe it or not, there once was a time when Facebook and Twitter did not consume 85% of our day. Back then we had other productivity suckers like solitaire and minesweeper! Whatever you spend your time doing at the computer, most of us do sit for an awful long amount of time hunched over that screen in chair pose.
Come Monday however, you’re likely to find yourself much more sedentary. You’ll be sitting or standing still while commuting to work (on long bus or train rides or driving). Then you get to work and you’re desk-bound all day, or sitting during long meetings. When we sit still for long periods of time, we often end up with physical discomfort, headaches, and stiff muscles, and without the opportunity to stretch and breathe deeply, we don’t get to shake off stress.
If you don’t have time to take a walk away from your office, you might want to try chair yoga.
So how do you keep yourself from holding onto stress at work, both physically and mentally, and how might you help avoid letting stress build up in the first place?
Here are a few simple chair yoga exercises to do at your desk in about 5 minutes, or even less:
Centering while seated –Take a moment to get grounded: With your feet planted firmly on the floor, feel the ground beneath you. Sit up in your chair, breathe deeply and feel the length in your spine. Notice 90 degree angles at the front of the ankles, backs of the knees, hip joints and under the jaw.
Close your eyes, bring awareness within – shift back and forth gently until you feel centered.
Breathe: Simple Pranayama, The 3-part breath –
Relax – scan from the top of your head down to your toes – consciously release any tension you may be holding letting it fall away.
Inhale – belly expands, ribs expand, collarbones rise.
Exhale – collarbones fall, ribs contract, belly toward the spine.
Inhale – feel your whole torso filling from the bottom to the top like a cup fills with water, or a balloon with air.
Exhale – feel your torso emptying from the top to the bottom like water is pouring out of the cup, or the balloon is deflating.
Continue for 3-6 breaths, depending on how much time you have. Count the breaths from 6 (or 3) to 1.
Just breathe … sit for a moment and enjoy the feeling of breathing deeply.
This is often enough to shift from stressed to calm and centered, but if you have a few more minutes, you could move your spine and stretch. The spine moves into flexion and extension, lateral flexion (side to side) and rotation. When we sit for a long time at the computer, we usually only sit in forward flexion. Moving the spine can re-energize the whole body.