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De-stress at Work: Harness Your Inner Office Yogi

by Jessica Zartler / January 20, 2015

You wake up. Jump out of bed realizing you are already late. You run to the kitchen, you run to your car or the train. You run to slam down some coffee. You spend your day on a computer with an unending list of tasks. You run to lunch and back again. You run, run, run.

You are inundated from the minute you wake up until you go to sleep at night. To-do lists, news, Facebook messages, emails, text messages, alerts and notifications and on and on and on.

Take two seconds right now. Stop what you’re doing.

Inhale….. exhale…..
Okay, again.
Inhale….. exhale…..
And one more time.
Inhale…………….. exhale…………..

How do you feel? Guess what? You just did yoga.

That amazing little four letter word that holds so much possibility. Better flexibility, stress relief, improved posture, improved immunity, greater awareness and focus, and inner peace… just to name a few benefits.

Whether you are a seasoned yogi or are new to the practice, everyone can access the benefits. Simply bring a couple of these simple stretches and intentional breaths into your work day and watch what happens.

Just take a few moments to draw your senses away from the outside world and look inside to find peace and renewed energy.

And if your co-workers look at you weird and ask what you’re doing, just tell them you are harnessing your inner office yogi and they should too.

How to Start:

  1. Sit squarely in your chair with your feet flat on the floor so that you feel your connection to the earth. If possible, take your shoes off and stretch your toes. If your feet don't reach the floor, place a pillow or books underneath them.
  2. Always keep your heart/chest open, draw your shoulders back and move your shoulder blades downward, away from your neck. This is the basis of good posture.
  3. Hold each pose for anywhere between three and five breaths, but never longer than you feel comfortable. When you release each pose you should feel that you've created some opening in your body, rather than pain or stress.

Sitting Reed Pose

Sit on the edge of your chair. Interlace your fingers and stretch your arms up toward the ceiling, palms upward. Reaching evenly through all sides of your torso, take a deep inhale and feel your body stretch and open. Exhale and lean to your right, feeling the left side of your body stretch and wake up. Inhale back to center, then exhale and repeat to the left. Feel how stretching your spine and torso energizes you to keep going in the day.

Neck Roll

Close your eyes. Let your chin drop down to your chest. Begin the circular motion of your neck slowly, by moving the right ear to the right shoulder, taking the head backwards and then bringing the left ear to the left shoulder. Keep your shoulders loose and relax. Rotate your neck three to five times and then switch directions.

Cat Stretch

Keep your feet on the floor. Bring both hands on your knees. While inhaling, stretch your back backwards and look towards the ceiling. While exhaling, stretch your back forward and drop your head forward. Repeat this exercise for three to five breaths.

Wrist Release

Weeks and years of typing can take a toll on your wrists and forearms. Take a moment with each hand to bend your wrists in each direction. As you inhale, press your fingers perpendicularly, stretching your wrist up. With the exhale, gently grab your hand and stretch your wrist the other way. Then to fully release any other tension, just give your wrists and hands a gentle shake.

Seated Forward Bend

Push your chair away from your desk. Staying in your chair, keep your feet flat on the floor. Take your arms behind the lower back, keep your back straight and interlace your fingers behind your back. Bending forward from the waist, bring your interlaced hands over your back. Rest your chest on your thighs and relax your neck and shoulders.

Seated Cow Face Pose

Raise your left arm up and reach to the sky. Take your fingers to the nape of your neck and reach back like you’re going to scratch your back. Then take your right arm behind your back and clasp your hands. If you can't clasp, simply stretch your fingers towards one another or use a belt or a towel. Feel the stretch along the right side of your shoulder girdle, and a gentle, comfortable stretch at your right shoulder. Release with an exhalation, shake your arms out, and repeat to the opposite side. Don’t worry if one side is less flexible. This is normal. Just take your time and the more you practice, the more your body will come into balance on both sides.

Sitting Eagle with Forward Bend

Place your right ankle on your left knee, then cross your right arm over your left arm at the elbows. Raise your forearms upward and place the fingers of the left hand to the palm of your right hand (your thumbs will be pointing toward your face). If you can't join your hands, hold a belt. Lift your arms upward and breathe into your upper back, pressing your shoulder down and away from your ears. Now bend forward from your hips. Breathe deeply and feel tension releasing from your hips and shoulders with every exhalation. Then switch sides, crossing your left ankle on your right knee and crossing your left arm over your right arm. Repeat.

Seated Twist

Twists are one of the best ways to prepare your digestive system for a good meal.
Sit with your feet and knees together. Take a deep inhale and lift up through your spine. As you exhale, turn your body to the right. Place your left hand on outer right thigh and right hand to your right. Be sure to drop your shoulder blades away from your ears. Stay for three or four breaths, lifting up through your center as you inhale and moving more deeply into the twist as you exhale. Look over your right shoulder and down toward the floor for an added neck stretch. Repeat on the other side and move through the stretch for five to ten breaths.

Temple Rub

Place your elbows on your desk and your hands on your temples. With small circular motions, gently rub your temples first clockwise for abour 10 to 15 long, deep breaths. Then switch and rub your temples counter-clockwise for 10 to 15 long, deep breaths.

Senses-Drawing-In Pose

This practice is called pratyhara in Sanskrit, literally translated as “turning inward” - letting go of the external world and resting in the pure peace of the inner self.

Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Remove eyeglasses if you wear them. Place your hands with your palms facing your face, the tips of your middle fingers touching. Closing your eyes, place your middle fingers very gently along the length of your eyelids - the tips of your fingers will touch the inner corners of your eyes. Place the index fingers along the line of your eyebrows, rest your ring fingers on the corners of your nostrils. Rest your little fingers on your upper lips or at the corners of your mouth. Finally, close the flaps of your ears with your thumbs.

Let your eyes, ears, nose, and tongue become completely passive. Let your eyes look within. Listen to the soft sound of your breath and let go of all your cares and concerns about your work, your school day, your life.

Let yourself linger here as long as you are comfortable. When you release your hands, sit with your eyes closed for a few more moments, letting the peace of your inner self come with you back to the outer world.

ॐ Namaste ॐ
I hope these stretches helped to relax you in your busy day. I work in an office too, but I’m also a yoga teacher. Feel free to send me any questions or comments. I am happy to help <3

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