Thursday, March 23, 2006

Got the 3pm slump happening?

As promised, here are some of the yoga stretches you can do in the office & at your desk! You can do each pose alone or as a sequence, and you can do it quickly or slowly, by simply extending the breath you can lengthen the practice. All poses are done sitting at your desk, with the pelvis and hips nice and even, pointing forward, feet flat on the ground.
* always keep the spine lifted! If you are hunched over and do a twist, you have more chance of injuring yourself because you’re scrunching the body up – not lengthening it! * always repeat the twist/lift etc on both sides (both Left and Right) so your body remains even * if you can’t do any of these exercises for whatever reason, just b-r-e-a-t-h-e! full, deep belly breaths! (chest, ribs and belly) The ancient yogis used to say that our time on earth wasn’t counted by years (ie. age) but rather, we had a certain amount of breaths per lifetime. Hence, one should breathe full, deep and slow. Take a moment to look at your breath when your stressed – it will be short, sharp and shallow and chances are your shoulders will be hunched up, your face tense, your jaw locked. If this happens, simply start lengthening and deepening the breath – count to 4 slowly and evenly as you inhale, then 4 again as you exhale. Watch your body open, shoulders relax and your mind start to de-stress.
3 part belly breath
- To energise, focus on the INHALE and let the exhale happen naturally.
- Focus on the Chest – Ribs – & Belly, filling each with air, letting each fall back down to the spine on the exhale.
- 4 count breath (inhale for even count of 4, exhale for even count of 4) if you’re stressed and need a quick pick-me-up! - you can also do the extra long 4 count breath if you need to calm some nerves (inhale count 4, retain for 4, exhale for 4)
Shoulder & Chest Opener
- Clasp hands behind back, slowly raise them up and away from the lower back. If you’re at your desk, you can rest the hands on the top of your chair.
Chair Twist
- Been sitting at your desk for an extended period of time? You can slowly re-energise the body by raising the hands up high (with the hips nice and even, pointing forward) and as you exhale, slightly turn the upper body to the left, release the right hand onto the left knee. Inhale and raise both arms up high again, exhale and release the left hand over to the right knee.
- This upper body twist will release the middle back and as you visualise your shoulders dropping down away form the ears, you can release further into the pose, creating lots of space in the upper chest. PS – twists are also great for digestion!
Inversions on your chair
- with both feet evenly on the ground, simply bend forward from the hips and place the hands on the ground (or the fingertips if you can’t quite reach! Flexibility increases rather quickly if you do this regularly). Drop the head forward over the knees and just breathe deeply in this pose. Inhale and create space in the spine by extending from the crown of the head, exhale and see if you can bend forward just a little further.
Release the Upper Torso
- office workers often hold all their stress in their upper torso and shoulders, as well as their jaws, as they tend to hunch over a computer for extended periods of time. Once a day give your body a break – simply lift both arms to the sky, and gently lift the LEFT wrist up with your other hand, feel the shoulder rise and the arm release. Softly let it go, then lift the RIGHT wrist up high with your other hand. You can repeat this a 1-3 times on each side, making sure you do the same number of lifts on each side.
Don’t forget that letting your eyes rest is just as important as letting your body relax – just looking in the distance, away from your computer, every 15 mins, will keep your eyes in focus and protect against headaches and eye strain. Easy! Enjoy : )
Be good to yourself and happy breathing x

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