Have you ever heard about Office Yoga? Practicing yoga poses directly at your desk minimises back pain and stiff shoulders, making it easier for you to focus on work.
Office yoga, or corporate yoga, is the new trend in the job market, from big corporates to vibrant start-ups, an increasing number of companies allow – and pay for – yoga classes directly at the office. A significant revolution in the workers’ world! If I think about a few years ago, nobody was not even remotely thinking of doing yoga in the meeting room.
In recent years, we had extraordinary economic growth which means, indeed, more wealth for everybody, yeah! On the other hand, we haven’t considered that this means more stress in our lives. Studies in the Journal of Occupational Psychology and the Journal of Occupational Medicine have shown that mind-body stress reduction programs offered in the workplace, have been effective in reducing work-related stress – which led in return to an happier environment and increased productivity!
Our daily schedule is always fast, running to the office or the workplace without even having had the time to start the day following its natural cycle. Of course, this attitude generates more stress.
Without a healthy body and mind, it’s not possible to have enough energy to deal with deadlines, demanding bosses and angry clients, targets to reach or documents to photocopy.
It’s not always possible to get yoga mats and fast-paced lives to fit, but, fortunately, yoga comes to help, and the number of yoga practitioners increases regularly. Even at the office!
How yoga helps to deal with stress and body aches
According to a study of the Annals of Internal Medicine, sitting for a long time increases the risk for a whole host of diseases, and increases the chance of early death.
When I was working in the event industry, the level of stress was so high that all my muscles were stiff and in pain. Sitting all day at a desk, in front of a computer, or on a plane, heading to some business meeting on the other side of the world, was my routine.
I wish yoga at the office was a thing during that time, but it wasn’t – at least at the company I worked for, so I decided to do something about it: every day I stood up more often at least to stretch all my muscles, including facial.
One of my first office yoga session was practicing Surya Namaskar while waiting to talk to some clients in Australia or rotating shoulders, wrists, neck and ankles when on a long call and, while I was sitting, I was keeping my back as straighter as possible, slightly engaging my abdomen.
I was adapting the experience of yoga asanas on the mat to an office chair and it worked! My colleagues started to ask me for tips to practice office yoga. They wanted to know what movements help stiff shoulders, or how to stay healthy at a desk and how to react differently to certain life situations. They began to call me Yoganda, no wonder where the name of my website comes from.
7 yoga poses to do directly at your desk
If you want to fully enjoy your life and have a strong body and a healthy mind, a daily yoga routine is essential.
Below, 7 office yoga poses to do directly at your desk, sitting on a chair. You can keep each pose, at least, three to five long and slow breaths. Each pose must be repeated on each side.
Reach your arms above your head, palms facing each other, wrist aligned with shoulders.
To start with, it’s okay if there’s a bit of a bend at the elbows, but work on straighten them as much as possible.
Spread your fingers wide, as you think about drawing your thumbs toward the back of your head.
Engage your abs as you sit up tall.
Soften your shoulders, stack your head directly over your torso, and lift your chin and back a tiny bit to help align your spine and find good posture.
Stand up and bring your feet about hip-width distance apart, and bend your knees. Sit your hips down and back, as you bring the weight of your body to your heels.
Look down to make sure you can see the tips of the toes; if not, send your hips slightly back.
Activate your inner thighs to engage your abdomen, and tilt your torso forward. Arms can reach up, or palms together at heart centre.
Seated Side Stretch
Starting in Tadasana (see Seated Mountain), extend your right arm and bend toward the left side. Finding as much length as possible, from right hip to right armpit. Left hands on your right thigh. Palm can face downs and gaze up toward your arm (only if that feels okay on your neck). Create space between your shoulder and ear.
Sit with heels below your knees. Press equally onto your feet. Place your hands a couple of cm behind your hips. Push into the chair, and reach your shoulder blades back and down.
The belly is locked in, as chest lifts and presses forward.
Send your look up, and back, but be mindful of your neck.
Same starting position of Seated Backbend. Draw your left hand to your outer right knee.
Sit up tall and activate your core.
The right hand can rest at your side or down by your right hip.
On every inhale, lift a little higher, and on each exhale, move your right shoulder backward, as the left shoulder moves forward.
Pull your left hip back as you twist, keep the twist in your lumbar spine.
If you twist too much, you’ll notice that it is challenging to keep a steady breath and long spine.
You can look toward the right, and eventually toward your right shoulder.
Draw your right knee up to your chest. As you bend through the knee, start to drop your knee open by rotating your thigh out from your hip joint. Place your right ankle on your left thigh.
Flex your right foot and use your right hand to lightly press your right knee down. Don’t create excess pressure on the knee, respect your limits.
Keep sitting up straight, core activated and with your left foot flat on the floor.
Practice every day these office yoga positions at the desk, and you will notice an incredible and positive change in your body and mind. It’s very easy to take care of your wellbeing, you can do it by sitting! Why don’t you start practising office yoga right now?
Let me know how it goes, leave your comments in the box below.