Meetings, deadlines, and workloads can be stressful. Hunching over your computer all day can cause undue stress on your body. Taking just a 15-minute yoga break can help reduce that stress, relax your body, increase your concentration and improve your focus. Not to mention making you happier in general!
Try these five exercises the next time you are feeling stressed or your body aches at your desk.
(1) Observe Your Breath
Use a time app or set a timer for 5 minutes so you don’t have to worry about time-related thoughts or distractions. Once you start the timer, close your eyes and sit still observing your breath, try to deepen your breath with each inhale, then slowly exhale, until the alarm sounds. Benefits: Focusing on your breath allows you to let go of all other thoughts for a few minutes and it creates a sense of calm for your parasympathetic nervous system.
(2) Neck Rolls
Sit on the edge of your seat keeping your spine upright and shoulders rolling back and down. Rest your hands lightly rest on top of your thighs. As you inhale, stretch your head back gently, on your exhale softly rotate your head to the right, then forward, circling back to where you started. Keep this slow rotational movement all in one direction five times and then softly repeat in the opposite direction. Benefits: When sitting for long periods of time, this creates mobility in your upper body. We can carry a lot of tension in neck and shoulders.
(3) Flexibility of spine: Cat Cow movement
Sit on the edge of your seat with feet flat on the floor, knees bent, legs at a 90-degree angle. Rest your hands lightly on top of your thighs, inhale, and roll your shoulders to arch your back and chest upward and outward. On your exhale, roll your spine and shoulders forward. Allow your body to follow the flow and length of each breath. Continue for 10-20 breaths. Benefits: This movement will free any tension or emotions that you may hold onto by releasing blockages within your spinal column. Cat-cow pose opens up your spine.
(4) Shoulder Opening
Sit with your feet flat on the floor, legs hip-width distance apart. Interlace your fingers behind your back, reach your hands down toward the floor. Gently lift your hands away from your back, then hinge forward bringing your chest toward your thighs. Hold for 10-20 deep breaths. Benefits: Eases tightness and/or pain in your neck and shoulders, creates openness in your shoulder joints.
(5) Hip Release – Seated Pigeon
Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Hug your right knee in toward your chest, then cross your right ankle over your left knee, inhale deeply and on your exhale, gently push your knee toward the floor. Hold for 3 breaths, hinge forward from your hips and hold for an additional 5 breaths, switch sides. Benefits: Releases tension in your hips, turns focus inward.