How To Do Desk Yoga
On average, people spend 9.3 hours per day sitting and this inevitably takes its toll on your overall health, strength and mobility. Being hunched over a computer screen is the opposite of what the body is designed to do, but it’s now become the norm. Sitting at a desk all day wreaks havoc on your body and the effects of prolonged sitting go beyond a bit of neck stiffness and tight hamstrings; think chronic lower back pain, muscle degeneration and fatigue and constant discomfort.
Unfortunately, if you have an office job, prolonged sitting is often unavoidable, but it’s all too easy to become so connected to the phone/tablet/laptop/computer screen that we become disconnected from the needs of our bodies and mind.
While it may not always be possible to leave the desk, with a little ingenuity, it is possible to get some healthy movement into your work day and boost brain power, productivity and creativity in the process.
Below is a quick and easy stretching routine that can all be done from your desk and won’t invite strange looks from colleagues (and if it does, just know that they will never be as flexible and mellow as you!).
I’m an avid fan of breathing techniques to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which optimises rest and recovery, so starting with three deep breaths and maintaining a calm and rhythmic breath throughout the exercises can help to relax your body while awakening the mind.
1. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Maximally exhale making an “ah” sound, then close your mouth and silently inhale while counting to four. Do not exhale, hold for four seconds before exhaling through your mouth with an “ah” sound for eight seconds. Repeat this cycle three more times.
2. Sitting tall, gently place your right hand at your left temple and left hand on left shoulder. Take your right ear to right shoulder, creating length down the side of the neck and traps. Hold x 20-30 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.
3. Interlace your fingers at the base of your skull. Take an inhale and as you exhale, gently tip your chin towards the ceiling, allowing your sternum to lift and elbows and chest to fall open. Avoid dropping your head too far back or extending at your lower back.
4. From the last position, draw your elbows together and slowly round forward (don’t pull at the neck), creating space between your shoulder blades.
5. Cross your right ankle at left knee to create a gentle stretch in your right glute. Place your hands on the desk in front of you, take an inhale and as you exhale flex forward over your lower body to increase the stretch. Hold x 20-30 seconds.
6. Take a seated twist by grasping the chair with your right hand and placing your left hand at the base of your spine. Slowly rotate the torso to the left, following with your gaze. Keep your torso tall, hold x 20-30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Sarah is a personal trainer and Physiotherapist from Dublin with a passion for movement, lifting, learning and strong coffee. For more health and fitness advice and tips, you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram or by visiting her website.