Editor’s note: Enjoy a guest post from Edward, who reminds us that we can integrate yoga into every facet of life!
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.
Yoga in heels – love it! Personally, I do desk work in 25 minute sets, then take a 5 minute break where I am doing something. This makes me feel infinitely better than just sitting at the computer all day… And of course, always do a quick yoga session before starting work to set my state for the day.
Absolutely agree! We can vastly improve our work performance with a little bit of time taken to retreat into the Self – whether it be through a few yoga stretches, deep breaths or a short meditation. I would recommend highly the work of one particular self-development expert Michael Fischman. A former Madison Avenue advertising executive, Michael now travels around the country teaching yoga, meditation and breathing techniques through a workshop designed for corporates. The program, APEX, does wonders for those working in high pressure environments! And all it requires is a little bit of attention to one’s own body and breath to settle the mind, becoming more focused and productive. Visit Michael’s blog for more information http://www.stumblingintoinfinity.blogspot.com or http://www.apexcourse.org
I think the greatest impact my yoga practice has had on my workaholism is that its made me aware of it. Awareness is the most powerful gift that yoga has given me and I a result I pay much closer attention to my health in every area. this spring I’m attending the One Path Summit in Atlanta, GA. A group of physicians committed to integrating all types pf approaches, including yoga, are coming together to have a conversation about whole body health. Check out their website and let me know if your planning to attend. http://www.onepathsummit.com
I couldn’t agree more that even the smallest act of yoga has a profound effect on my productivity. The most powerful gift that yoga has given me is the ability to be aware that workaholism is lethal for the body. If I want to be productive at work I must be healthy. This spring Atlanta, Ga is hosting the One Path Summit a conversations with physicians about achieving whole body health through integrative medicine. I’d love to know if anyone else is attending. Check out their website: http://www.onepathsummit.com
I absolutely love this! It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut at work, but this is a great idea. Eight hours a day in front of a computer (with the occassional snacking) can get really unhealthy. Everyone should try and get their co-workers to join in too.
Thanks for sharing this exercise!
I was practicing this exercise at work when a colleague came in my office the look on his face was priceless!
This article is excellent! My fingers get so cold while typing, my arm, neck and back hurt so I’ll definitely try these fixes!
Relax at work with a few simple exercises. Yoga is therapeutic for many injuries and medical conditions. Yoga therapy can provide relief from stress, as well as many other mental and physical ailments. I have strong belief on Yoga. Yoga is not just physical fitness training. Its aim is for you to achieve your fullest potential in life.