Sitting at your desk all day long without movement can cause compression in your back. By focusing on stretching and lengthening, your skeleton and muscles will get much needed movement so that you don't have cumulative trauma.
- For all seated poses sit squarely in your chair, feet flat on the floor, shoes removed if possible.
- In all standing poses, start with your feet firmly planted to the floor, spine long.
- Keep your chest open, draw your shoulders down and back, shoulders away from the ears.
- Hold each pose for anywhere between three and five breaths.
Sit with your chest lifted and spine long. Hold onto the side of the chair seat with your right hand. Lean to the left, and drop your left ear towards your left shoulder, lengthening the neck on the right side. For a deeper stretch, use your left hand to apply pressure to the right side of the head. Repeat on the other side.
Sitting Reed Pose
Sit on the edge of your chair, interlace your fingers and stretch your arms up toward the ceiling, palms upward. All sides of your torso are long. Deeply inhale and feel your body stretch and open. On the exhale lean to your right, feeling the left side of your body stretch, creating a long line from the hips through the hands. Inhale coming back to center. Repeat on the other side.
Seated Cow Face Pose
Raise your right arm out to your right side with the palm facing up toward the ceiling. Bring the right arm up toward the ceiling and bending at the elbow, place your fingers at the nape of your neck. Raise your left arm out to the left side with the palm facing downward. Then lower your left arm toward the floor and bending at the elbow, bring your forearm behind your back and reach to clasp your hands. If you can't clasp, simply press the hands into your back. The right elbow should be pointing straight up toward the ceiling and the left elbow should be pointing down toward the floor. There should be no rounding in the back…keep the spine long. Repeat on the other side.
Seated Eagle with Forward Bend
Place your right ankle on your left knee, then bring your right arm under your left arm at the elbows and wrap the forearms around each other so that you can bring your palms together with your thumbs closest to your body. If you can't join your hands, grab opposite shoulders. Lift your arms upward and bring the forearms forward and the triceps parallel with the floor. Now bend forward from your hips keeping the spine long. Take a few deep breaths and then release. Repeat on the other side.
Sit with your feet and knees together, sitting up straight with the spine long. On the inhale, lengthen through the spine and on the exhale, twist your body to the right, starting at the base of the spine and slowly twisting until you are looking over your right shoulder. Place your left hand on outer right thigh and right hand to your right on the chair seat. On each inhale, lengthen and on each exhale see if you can twist deeper. Try to use your core muscles for the twist rather than your arms as levers. Repeat on the other side.
Stand tall with the feet separated as wide as the hips, spine is long and the crown of the head is reaching up toward the ceiling. Arms down at the sides of the body and externally rotated so that the thumbs are on the outside—this should be natural and not forced. Relax your face. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and keep the hips soft. Breathe.
Shift the weight to your left leg, grounding down through all four corners of the foot. Lift up your right foot and place it as high as possible against your inner left leg, avoiding the knee area (so it is either on the inside of the calf or the inside of the thigh). Take your hands together at the center of your chest. Stay here or on the inhale bring the arms up overhead from the side like you are holding a big beach ball over top of your head. Face, shoulders and hips are relaxed, spine is long and your body is relaxed. On the exhale, bring the palms together overhead and bring them back to the center of the chest. Gently release and repeat on the other side.
Stand with the legs together, knees and feet touching and legs strong. Bring your arms up overhead from the side and interlace your fingers while releasing your pointer fingers. Lengthen up through the arms and then push your hips to the left and reach over to the right side of the room. Keep the ribs lifted up and away from the waist and lengthen all along the left side of the body. Press it to the left heel and see if you can lengthen even more. Take five long breaths and then gently release to center. Repeat on the other side.
Standing Forward Bend
Place your hands on your desk and walk your feet away from your desk until your torso and arms are parallel to the floor (you are bent at the hips, not the waist). Keep the neck in line with the spine so that you are looking down toward the floor. Lengthen through your arms and your spine. If this stretch is too intense for the backs of your legs, bend your knees.
Senses Drawing In Pose
Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Remove eyeglasses if you wear them. Place your hands with your palms facing your face, the tips of your middle fingers touching. Close your eyes, place your middle fingers very gently along the length of your eyelids - the tips of your fingers will touch the inner corners of your eyes. Place the index fingers along the line of your eyebrows, rest your ring fingers on the corners of your nostrils, and rest your little fingers on your upper lips or at the corners of your mouth. Finally, close the flaps of your ears with your thumbs. Let your eyes, ears, nose, and tongue completely relax. Focus on your breath and let all other thoughts leave your mind. Stay here for at least five deep breaths. When you release your hands, sit with your eyes closed for a few more moments and enjoy the inner peace.