Many of us spend a lot of sedentary time sitting at our workplace desks – 40, 50, even 60 hours a week staring at a computer screen. Not good for the body or the spirit. Not good for productivity, either.
You’ll get more done in less time (the definition of productivity) if you’re able to take a minute or two to relax and do some simple stretching and breathing exercises that are core to the time-tested fitness activity – yoga.
You don’t need a yoga mat, it doesn’t take a lot of time, you’ll feel better physically and emotionally all day long (no more 2:30 crash) and long term, you’ll lessen the likelihood of everything from carpel tunnel syndrome to blowing out an aorta from a little too much stress.
Relax at work with a few simple exercises. Total time? The experts recommend that you devote three to five minutes to simple yoga exercises you can do at your desk for every two hours of work. That’s nothing compared to the short- and long-term benefits workplace yoga provides. And you don’t have to know the lotus position from the crane. The exercises are easy, unobtrusive and they’re going to make you feel better, increase your energy levels all day and protect your long-term health by lowering heart rate, blood pressure, stretching critical muscles and oxygenating the blood.
Work these activities into your daily routine. Every time you finish a phone call, spend 60 seconds breathing deeply to activate the body and mind for the next task. This way you derive the benefits immediately and you integrate yoga into routine tasks throughout the day. And pretty soon, these routines become habits. You do them…routinely.
Sometimes we forget to breathe even though breathing is a reflex activity of the body (you don’t have to think about it, like blinking). Focused on our computer screens or the speaker at the podium, we sometimes hold our breath, breathe in short gasps or breathe rhythmically.
Try this simple breathing exercise used during yoga workouts:
1. Sit up straight in your chair and extend your spine by extending your head up to a comfortable level. (If you ever feel pain doing a yoga exercise stop. Yoga doesn’t hurt.)
2. Elevate your shoulders and pull them back. Slowly drop your shoulders moving them away from your head.
3. Interlace your fingers and place your hands on your lap.
4. Gently close your eyes.
5. Take in a deep full breath and hold it for three seconds.
6. Slowly exhale completely.
7. Repeat 8-10 times and you’re done.
This simple breathing exercise combats physical and psychological stress, fully-oxygenates a body “at rest” and gives you an emotional boost, preparing you to tackle the next assignment.
Wrist and Hand Yoga
All that typing takes its toll on wrists and hands, sometimes requiring surgery to address serious carpel tunnel disorders.
Here’s a simple exercise that’ll stretch your wrists, hands and fingers in all the right places.
1. Sit up straight in your chair, spine lengthened, head elevated, eyes forward.
2. Interlace your fingers and place your hands in your lap. Close your eyes and relax.
3. Slowly raise your hands to chest height. Gently press your interlaced hands away from your body. Your palms should be pointing away from you.
4. Gently stretch your finger muscles and extend the wrists to a comfortable level. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds.
5. Gently draw your hands back to you lap, open your eyes and type that proposal. You’re good to go – and go longer.
Full Body Stretch
One activity, 60 seconds, results throughout the day:
1. Place your hands, palms down, on your desk or a work table at waist height.
2. Bend slightly at the waist. Raise your head so you face the ceiling. Make sure your body is stable.
3. Slowly walk back from the desk, bending forward and applying pressure to the palms of your hands. Again, make sure you’re stable and weight is distributed evenly.
4. Gently roll your shoulders forward and backward 5-10 times.
5. Arch your back to stretch your spine.
6. Lower your head to your chest, then raise it again to stretch your neck.
7. Take a few more steps away from your desk, extend your hips toward the floor and feel the stretch in the back of the legs.
8. Walk forward toward the desk, arch your back and roll your spine.
9. Breathe evenly throughout the entire routine. Takes 60 seconds.
Workaholics love what they do but that doesn’t mean your health has to suffer. Take a few minutes out of those long work days to give your body the benefit of simple yoga exercises. Your body will thank you, your spirit will soar and your mind will be more focused with a few quick, discrete yoga routines at work.
Enjoy your job even more, workaholics. Yoga is the answer.
Edward is the owner of DumbbellsForSale.com, a website where you can find high quality dumbbell sets for sale.