Are you feeling weak and stiff due to inactivity and lack of stretching? Fret not, as this does not have to be the case anymore. Read on and be enlightened in Office Yoga.
Yoga Practice in the Office
Yoga is an ancient practice that combines physical exercises, mental meditation, and breathing techniques to promote mental and physical well-being. Clinical and psychological studies have shown that regular yoga practitioners attain strengthened physical postures, toned muscles, reduced stress levels, and improved quality of life.
As office work became more commonplace, corporate yoga classes Singapore eventually arose as a style of yoga. This style was designed to be done while working at an office, with seated yoga postures that aim to alleviate common problems from being seated in front of a desk all day, such as poor posture, stiff neck, sore back, and tight hips.
Aside from the physical benefits, a study also showed that office yoga could decrease perceived stress among employees.
Beginner’s Guide to Office Yoga
Before executing the poses and movements, you should ensure that you are positioned and breathing correctly. This is to maximise the benefits of the exercises and minimise the risk of injuring yourself.
An ideal position would be with you sitting at the front end of your chair, with an imaginary straight line from your ears to your hips. Your knees should be even with your hip joints, and your feet should be flat on the floor directly under your knees. You could improvise and place a book under your hips or your feet if proper alignment is difficult to attain.
To attain proper breathing, you should first close your eyes and tune out the distractions around you. Focus on your breathing, establish smooth breathing from your diaphragm, and feel the rise of your upper abdomen and lower hips as you inhale and the opposite as you exhale. If you think that your breathing is regular enough, you can then proceed with the following yoga pose:
1) Seated Twist
Sit against the backrest of your chair. Lift your arms above your head. As exhale, place both hands on your right armrest while twisting to your right side. If your chair does not have armrests, you may instead place your right hand on the seat of your chair behind your pelvis and your left hand on your right thigh.
With each succeeding inhalation, lengthen your spine to allow your body to stretch more profound into the pose. Hold the pose on each side for up to 60 seconds, then switch sides.
2) Shoulder Rolls
Relieves tension from the upper back, shoulders, and chest.
Lift your shoulders towards your ear as you inhale, slowly bringing it down and back as you exhale. Repeat this motion while visualising a circle drawn around each shoulder every repetition. After two repetitions, reverse the direction of the roll by bringing the shoulder down and forward as you exhale instead of down and back.
3) Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Stretches the lower back, hips, and upper leg muscles
First, stand up with the distance between your feet being more comprehensive than the width of your hips. Rest your hand on your hips. Bend forward from your hips while keeping your spine straight as you inhale. Hold this pose for a few seconds, then move your hands down to your legs. Rest your hands on the floor between your feet if you can.
Hold it for 30 to 60 seconds before settling comfortably into the pose. Afterwards, release and use your leg and abdominal muscles to pull yourself back up.
4) Seated Figure Four Pose
Stretches the deep muscles around the hips
Rest your outer left ankle on your right thigh. Hold your inner left ankle with your right hand while placing your left hand on your left knee. While exhaling, bend forward from your hips as far as you can. Keep your back straight while doing so. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides.
5) Seated Back Bend Pose
Stretches the belly and may help aid against indigestion
Sit at the front edge of your chair, with your back straight and away from the backrest, and your feet on the floor. While keeping your back straight, lean forward and reach your arms back to grab the back of your chair without bending them at the elbows. Pull your shoulders back, inhale, and notice how your shoulders relax. When ready, release the pose and sit straight.
6) Seated Crescent Moon Pose
Stretches and relieves tension from the muscles at the side of the abdomen
While sitting, lift your arms above your head, and place your palms together. Lean to your right, hold the pose for two to three breaths and switch sides.
7) Stork Pose
Relieves tightness of hips, and weakening of leg muscles due to prolonged sitting
Stand in front of your desk or chair to keep yourself stable. Raise one knee until it is at the level of the hips and then pull your leg into your abdomen by grasping it at the level of the knee. Hold this pose for 10-15 seconds.
8) Wrist and Finger Exercises
Relieves tension from the fingers, hands, and wrists
With your arms outstretched in front of you, draw 5 to 10 circles inwards using your wrists. After doing so, reverse the direction. For your fingers, you may spread them and quickly ball them up into fists repeatedly 5 to 10 times. You may also stretch each hand by pulling on them using the other hand and holding this pull for 5 to 10 breaths.
9) Neck Rolls
Relieves tension accumulated in your neck and prevents stiffness and pain from setting in.
While sitting, relax your shoulders and slowly start circling your neck by bending your head towards your right ear, moving to behind your right shoulder, then to your back, then to the left shoulder, and then to the left ear. Make this motion for 3 to 5 cycles and then switch directions.
10) Cat-Cow Stretch
Relieves tightness in the upper back, shoulder, and neck muscles.
While sitting, keep your hands on your knees. While inhaling, bend backwards until your spine arches and look up toward the ceiling. While exhaling, bend forward until your spine becomes hunched and let your head drop forward. Repeat for 3 to 5 breaths.
11) Seated Forward Bend
Relieves tightness and tension in your shoulder muscles.
Push your chair away from the desk, sit, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Interlace your fingers behind your back, and draw your hands down by straightening your arms as much as possible. Fold at the waist while keeping your arms straight and bringing your interlaced hands over your back. Rest your chest on your thighs and release your neck.
12) Seated Eagle
Stretches the hips, thighs, and shoulders without worrying about balancing.
While sitting, cross your right leg over your left leg. Extend your arms to your sides parallel to the floor. Bring your arms forward, cross your left arm over the right and bring the palms to touch. Lift the elbows while keeping the shoulders sliding down your back. Repeat with the right arm over the left.
13) Seated Spinal Twist
Relieves tension and weakness of the trunk muscles.
Sit sideways on your chair with both feet flat on the floor. Twist towards the backrest of the chair while putting both hands on it. Turn 180 degrees to repeat the motion in the opposite direction.
14) Wrist Stretch
Relieve strain on the wrists
While standing, turn your hands so that the insides of your wrists face the surface of the desk while your fingers face the edge of the desk closer to you. Lean away from your desk with your arms straight while flattening your palms on the desk as much as possible. Back off if you feel pain
15) Standing Pigeon
Relieves tightness in your hips and upper legs.
While standing, put your shin (lower leg) onto your desk parallel to the edge of the desk. Bend forward using your other leg, with your hips as the hinges. Switch legs and repeat.
Office yoga is an excellent way to care for yourself despite the hectic schedule you may have at work. Physically, it relieves the body of the tension accumulated after a long work day. Psychologically, studies show that it can decrease employees’ perceived stress. With these poses, such benefits can be attained well within the schedule