Much of what the office has to offer the body and spirit is confined to a chair. The lack of movement for long periods contributes to elevated stress levels because the body cannot bend, stretch, and expand as it was intended. Simple yoga exercises can be performed at a desk, or quickly within office break boundaries to provide great relief. Try these seven exercises.
1. Torso Expansion
While sitting, inhale as strongly as you can. Feel your ribcage lift and expand. As you exhale, keep the ribs, shoulder muscles, and back expanded. The pressure in your torso will decrease, but your frame should stay wide and lifted. This movement coordinates breathing, along with keeping the back relaxed. A tense back is a primary cause of body stress.
2. Heavenly Focus
Sit upright and raise your arms toward the sky. As you raise your arms, inhale fully. Look upward and focus on your breathing. Slowly lower your arms to the side, and fully relax at the bottom. It is very common for stress to mount because of labored breathing. This realignment exercise is a great reset.
3. Modified Down Dog Position
Though it could seem to office peers as awkward, bowing in your chair can relieve stress. While seated, exhale fully and droop your torso over your legs. Literally “faint” in your seat. Let your chest touch your legs, and allow your hands to fall to the floor. This movement improves middle body circulation and has the power to revive the entire body.
4. Leg Relief
Part of the stress of spending all day in a chair is centered on circulation. Try grabbing a knee, raising a leg, and outstretch the lower leg portion. This keeps the posterior chain muscles vital, and guards against conditions like vein thrombosis.
5. Back Arching
To relieve the symptoms of “nerd’s neck,” grasp the arms of your chair. Inhale fully, and press your arms until they are straight. Let your head fall back while using the upper back to push your chair. This exercise relieves neck torsion and is best felt with a chair that is relatively stiff.
6. Seated Leg Crawls
The biggest problem with being seated all day is lower body immobility. Find a straight and clear floor pathway at least 10-15 feet in length. Using your heels, pull your seated self along the path. This motion, which activates the large hamstring muscles of the legs, is great for restoring blood circulation. As circulation is restored, so is a general feeling of calmness.
7. Arm Stretching
Upper body tension is a primary factor in the body’s tendency to gravitate toward stressful positioning. Stretch an arm overhead. Bend it at the elbow and grasp the area of the back between the shoulder blades. With the other arm, pull the grasping arm toward the head, and allow the muscles of the active arm to stretch. This will relieve upper back tension and will prompt the body to resume natural breathing patterns. Alternate this motion between the arms at 30-second intervals.
A body in motion has many more stress-fighting tools than one that is sedentary. Though you are stuck in a chair through the work day, modified yoga exercises can be effective for alleviating the stress that is brought about by body immobility. The key to these stretches being effective is using them daily and can help increase your work productivity.