Like most people, I spend lots of time sitting in front of a computer. How do you like my office? I don’t think I’ve ever taken pictures in it before! Our walls are green, the corners are full of surfboards and at the end of the room there is a huge, fluffy couch for puppy-snuggles. I actually love this room but sometimes I get stuck answering emails and planning our travels for hours on end. I’m usually alone or with my husband in this office so I can bust out my yoga mat whenever I want, but not everyone is lucky enough to have a home office and I know how tight our bodies tend to get in front of the computer. Solution? Yoga. In your office. I’ve created the perfect yoga sequence below for a long day at the office – try out in front of your computer, wherever you are!
We all know that sitting down for long stretches of time can wreck havoc on our health (sitting too much has been related to both high blood pressure and obesity), but if you lead an overall healthy lifestyle your main problem could be the fact that too much typing on the computer gives us tight upper backs, necks and shoulders. I try to change things up as much as I can when I’m working to give my body a break – luckily I have six dogs in the house right now (i know – six!) that remind me to go for regular walks. Posture is super important when you’re doing office work, and to keep my body soft and happy throughout a work day I always make sure to pause for some office yoga. Yes: office yoga! There are stretches and poses you can do sitting in your office chair, no yoga mat or stretchy pants required, to help both your mind and body feel good throughout the day. This sequence below is designed to create space in the neck, shoulders, hips and hamstrings- all without breaking a sweat! You can do these exercises in your office clothes, but take off your high heals if you can and any tight jacket that might decrease your range of motion.
Come to a comfortable position sitting on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the ground, keeping the spine long. Inhale and extend your arms out to the sides. Exhale and cross one arm over the other, giving yourself a big hug with the allows stacked. Then, connect the palms of the hands together (or the tops of your hands together, if it’s hard to reach) in front of your face. Relax your shoulders, create space for the neck and then gently lift the fingertips a little bit higher towards the sky while pressing the two palms towards each other. Feel this stretch on your upper back, shoulders and the sides of the neck. Stay for 10 slow, deep breaths and then switch sides.
Sitting up tall, ground down through the soles of your feet and inhale to lengthen the spine. Exhale, and twist gently towards the right side. Grab a hold of the arm rest and the back of the chair sofltyr, lengthening up through the crown of your head with every inhale and twisting slightly deeper with every exhale. Pause at a depth of your twist where you can still keep the breath deep and full, and gaze over the right shoulder. Keep the hips neutral and your sit bones evenly grounded without allowing one of your knees to poke out in front of the other. Stay for 5-10 breaths and then gently untwist. Pause with a neutral spine for a few breaths and then twist toward the other side.
Interlace the fingers behind your lower back, and gently extend the arms back behind you on an inhale. As you exhale, move your knuckles over toward the right side of the torso, wiggling them as for to the side as you comfortably can. Squeeze the outer elbow in towards the body, and then softly relax your head towards your right shoulder. Keep the neck long, and if you’re comfortable, move your head side to side to get deeper into the tight parts of your neck. Be careful not to drop your head back! Stay for ten breaths and then come back to center to do the opposite side.
Hip Opener, Variation
Place the right ankle on top of the left knee. Flex the right foot and press the inner border of he foot away from the body, engaging your toes. Take a breath in to lengthen the spine, and start to fold forward as you exhale. Choose how deeply you wish to move into the pose – you want to feel a stretch in the outer hip and flute, but never any pain! Make sure your knees are comfortable, and use your breath to create depth. Stay for 5-10 breaths and then do the other side, or move into the deeper variation of the pose (below).
Hip Opener, continued
If you were feeling comfortable in the pose above you can choose to go even deeper by folding closer towards the earth. Connect the fingertips to the ground, relax your neck and keep the foot flexed to protect your knee. When you’re ready to move out of the pose, ground the foot to the earth, engage your core and come back up, first doing the softer variation (above) to continue on the other side.
Hamstring Stretch, Variation
Still sitting on the edge of your chair, place the back of your heel or ankle on your desk, on another chair or any elevation that’s appropriate to your body. Place a folded sweater or pillow beneath your foot if you like. Flex the foot and activate your toes, inhale to lengthen the spine, and exhale to gently fold forward. You might not need to bring your torso close to the leg at all – sometimes just sitting up straight makes the stretch for the back of the leg deep enough here. Stay for ten breaths and then do the other side, or choose to go to the deeper variation (below).
Hamstring Stretch, continuation
If you were feeling comfortable in the above stretch, choose to go deeper by actually folding your upper body over the extended leg. Let every inhale softly bring your heart closer to the top of your foot, and let every exhale fold you slightly deeper. Stay for 5-10 breaths or as long as you are comfortable to stay before you come out of the pose and do the other side, beginning with the softer variation (above).
Doing this sequence in the middle of your day will give you a boost of energy and keep you feeling focused and centered. If you want an extra touch, try five minutes of seated meditation at the very end (click here). I hope you enjoy doing yoga at your office! Try to take frequent breaks to move and stretch your body as often as you can, and don’t forget to drink a ton of water as well.
Much love, have a great work day, and happy office yoga-ing!