As you drive to work you think, “My shoulders and hips are feeling really tight. I guess I’ll wait until I get home to stretch them out.”
You go throughout the entire day with tension building up in your muscles to the point where it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. Your enjoyment of the work you’re doing slips away. While your productivity and focus diminish to one-third or less of your capacity. You’re looking at the clock regularly, counting down the minutes until you can go home and give your body some relief.
What your boss doesn’t know is they want you to do yoga at work.
You might be thinking, “My boss would kill me if I busted out a Downward Dog by the printer.” But here’s the great thing - your boss never needs to know you’re doing yoga at work. It can be your little secret.
The five yoga-related movements in this article are inconspicuous, don’t take much time, and can be done from the comfort of your chair.
1. Chair Cat Cow
If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, you’ve most likely done Cat Cow. It’s a universal yoga movement usually done on the hands and knees to work into spinal flexion and extension in the spine.
Now you can do it in your chair. Place your feet flat on the ground. Lengthen your spine upwards as you place your hands to your upper thighs. As you inhale gaze up to the sky and draw your shoulders back. Your chest presses up towards the ceiling. As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest as you round through your upper back. Repeat these two movements for 10 breath cycles.
Why this pose matters: Movement of the spine improves circulation to the discs between the vertebrae, which relieves stress from the back and calms the mind.
2. Chair Twist
Spinal twists are the poses that make you feel blissed out when walking out of a yoga studio. Why not get that feeling while in the office?
Ground your feet and join your legs together. Find a tall spine as you roll your inner thighs towards each other. Place your left hand on your outer right thigh and your right hand on the side or arm of the chair. Gaze towards the right as you breath deep. Stay in the twist for 5-10 breaths and then switch to the other side.
Why this pose matters: Relieves stiffness in the neck and shoulders, tones the abdominal muscles, and improves digestion.
3. Chair Side Bend
You might be noticing a pattern that we’re moving the body front, back, and side-to-side. The body was designed to move in all planes of motion. This seated side bend will really love your body up!
Plant your feet and connect your legs together. Reach both arms above and clasp your left wrist with your right hand. Press your sit bones into the chair to lengthen your spine upwards and side bend towards the right. Hold here for 5-10 breaths while you breathe deep into your left side body. Repeat on your other side.
Why this pose matters: Stretches out the intercostal muscles along the side of the body which opens up the ribcage and lungs, improving breathing capacity, and relieving respiratory conditions such as allergies and asthma.
4. Chair Neck Stretch
Your neck and shoulders take a beating sitting at a desk and staring at a screen for long hours. The roundedness through the upper back and crane of the neck forward that office life promotes does severe damage to your posture and overall health. Luckily, you’re one move away from finding relief.
Join your legs together and press your shoes into the floor. Press into your sit bones and lengthen the spine up to the crown of the head. Draw your left arm behind your back and clasp your fingers around your right bicep. Tilt your neck towards your left shoulder while you pull your right arm forwards. Stay here for 5-10 breaths while you take half circles with your neck. If you find a spot that feels good hold there and breath into the release of tension. Repeat on the other side.
Why this pose matters: Lengthening and stretching small neck muscles defuses tension held in your tissues and helps the whole body to relax.
5. Chair Hip Stretch
We’ve given our upper body so much love that we can’t forget about the lower body. Our hips hold so much tension that it can eventually cripple us if we’re not careful. This simple hip stretch will help prevent that.
Ground your left foot and cross your right ankle on your upper left thigh. Elongate your spine upwards and flex your right foot. Take your left hand to your right ankle and right hand just above your right knee. Use the left hand to pull back the right ankle as you press your right hand into your thigh forwards. Stay here for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Why this pose matters: It’s a primal reaction to store stress, trauma, fear, and anxiety in the hips. Opening the hips releases negative feelings and undesirable energy from our body.
Next time you find yourself craving a little zen pick me up at work try out these five yoga poses. You won’t regret it when stress melts away, and your boss wants to give you a raise.
This article was written for us by our awesome Brand Warrior, Vancouver-based Michael Toru. For more information about Michael, click here