Yoga at the Office

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.

Neck stretches

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.

Seated Twist

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.

Mountain Pose

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.

Tree Pose

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.

Half Moon

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.

Namaste

Yoga for Runners

Yoga is the perfect complement to running. Muscle tightness and structural variations in the body can lead to obstacles when exercising. Practicing yoga will help to address the muscle tightness and bring alignment to your body. How can yoga help? Read below.

Strength and balance

Many times an injury or chronic pain while running is caused by an imbalance in your body. One quad is stronger than the other. Legs are strong while core is weak. You have more flexibility in one ankle. Your knee hurts and so you start to shift your weight unevenly. Running has forward movement along one plane using mostly the muscles in the lower body while yoga moves in all directions involving muscles in many parts of the body. Yoga helps to bring your body into balance, alignment and symmetry. In yoga, you strengthen your muscles while creating stability.

Flexibility

Running tightens and shortens the muscles and is high impact. Yoga is all about elongating the muscles and softening the hard parts while being low impact. In yoga, you also continuously work toward increasing your range of motion.

Body, mind and breath

Both running and yoga require integration of body, mind and breath. The breathing pattern in running involves quick, shallow inhalations and exhalations. Yogic breathing focuses on slow, deep inhalations and long exhalations using all parts of the lungs. Practicing this type of breathing will lead to greater lung capacity. More oxygen to the lungs means more oxygen going out to the cells in your body and removal of carbon dioxide and toxins. Employ these same principles while running and you will find that your mind will be at ease which will in turn, help you relax, releasing tension, tightness and stress from your body.

Restoration

Practicing relaxing, restorative poses can help runners recover faster after long races and hard workouts. It will also help prevent the soreness caused by the buildup of lactic acid. Yoga is great for releasing toxins from the body.

So, what type of yoga should you do to complement running? For the amount of running that we do, I believe that we are getting a good amount of cardiovascular exercise and so yoga for runners should be more about stretching and restoring. I love Hatha and Restorative yoga for these reasons. Hatha is great because you are holding postures for a set amount of time. You are contracting muscles for a set period of time and it is strengthening the muscles along with connective tissue (tendons and ligaments). Restorative is my favorite! You can use props to stretch muscles out a little more than what your body weight would do and it is especially helpful in building strength and stability in your body.

Now, let’s get into some postures. Each posture below should be held for at least 5 full breaths. In yoga, we focus on a 6 second inhale and a 6 second exhale so 5 breaths should take one minute. Breathe in and out through the nose. Use active movements in these postures. What I mean by that is that you will use the muscle strength to move you deeper into the posture rather than using a hand to pull something closer/push something out. Also focus on using the muscles to move you rather than momentum. These are some of my favorites.

Butterfly

Sitting on your mat, bring the bottoms of your feet together. Place your hands around your feet and sit tall without the back rounding. Actively try to bring your knees closer to the floor. For deeper stretching, lean forward while keeping the spine long.

Cow Face

Come up onto your knees, crossing the right leg over the left—knees are tight together. With the ankles out wide, sit down between them making sure your sitting bones are on the floor. Interlace your fingers through the toes. Spine stays long. For a deeper stretch, flex your feet, squeeze your legs together and keeping the spine long, start to lean forward. Repeat on the other side.

Intense Leg Stretch

Sitting flat on the mat with the legs stretched out in front of you, bend your knees and then adjust so that the fleshy part of the glutes are out from under you. Sandwich your chest against your knees, grab the big toes with your peace fingers and with the spine long, start to lengthen the legs forward.

Hero Pose/Reclining Hero Pose

Come into a kneeling position with the knees at hip width. Bring the heels wider than the hips and start to lower your hips down between the heels. If this feels ok then bring your elbows down to the floor and start to walk your elbows forward until your shoulders reach the floor. Raise your arms over your head and grab opposite elbows. An advancement in this posture is to bring the knees closer together.

Pigeon

Come onto all fours, squaring the body off with the wrists below the shoulders and the knees directly below the hips. Bring the right knee forward to the right wrist and slide the right heel over in front of the left thigh. Slide the left leg back until the hip is over top of the heel. Bring the elbows down to the floor, lengthen your arms forward and then place your forehead on the floor. Repeat on the other side.

Child Pose

Come into a kneeling position with the knees and feet together. Lower the hips down to the knees. Fold at the hips and bring the forehead to the mat. Bring the hands back beside the hips and start to bring the shoulders closer to the floor, opening up the upper back.

Separate Leg Forehead to Floor

Step the feet apart wide. Feet are parallel to each other so heels out and toes slightly in. Bring the arms out wide parallel to the floor. Lengthen through the spine and fold forward at the hips. Bend your knees and grab the feet from the outside bringing all fingers underneath the feet. Pull the elbows in close to the shins, start to straighten the legs and lift the hips. Spine should be long and neck is in line with the spine. Bring the weight forward to the front of the feet for a deeper stretch. You can also engage the quads to allow the hamstrings to lengthen even more.

Ragdoll

Separate the feet hip width distance. Fold forward at the hips. Once you are down as far as you can go with straight legs, grasp each elbow with the opposite hands. Allow your head to hang.

Pyramid

Step the left foot back and place it at a 45 degree angle. Right foot points forward. Legs are straight. Reach your arms behind you and grab opposite elbows. Keeping the spine long and the legs straight, start to pivot forward at the hips. Stop pivoting if you feel the spine start to round. Neck is an extension of the spine. Repeat on the other side.

Corpse Pose

Lie down on your back with the heels together and the toes flaring out. Arms are at the sides of the body with the palms up. Chin is tucked slightly so that the neck is long. Close your eyes. The only part of your body that is moving is your belly rising and falling with your breath.

I challenge you to incorporate a little bit of yoga into each day. You can do it anywhere. Stuck on a phone call at work? Close your office door and break out your mat. Watching TV at the end of a long day? If you aren’t using your foam roller, do a few of these poses. Before you head out to lunch, take 15 minutes to complete the poses listed above. Here is a great website that you can use to get in tune with your breath while you practice: http://doasone.org/.

Enjoy and Namaste!