From eye strain to neck and back aches – stress finds its way to each of us daily, especially at work. Whether we’re fixated nine to five (and then some) in front of a computer or handling a heavy load on a warehouse floor, sometimes our bodies must say, “when.”
Try a yoga break! Before you think that you need to go into downward-facing-contortion mode, think again. Sometimes just a few minutes of the smallest yoga movements, combining gentle stretching with meditative deep breathing for relaxation, will fit the bill. A short break like this refreshes with a potential boost to productivity after returning to a task. Yoga, as a mind-body practice, can help lower blood pressure, regulate heart rate and reduce stress. It has also been known to lessen chronic conditions, from anxiety and depression, to insomnia and pain.
As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially if there’s concern about an existing condition. Consider these easy yoga moves as a basic introduction to try out at work (or at home) when you need some respite, in addition to that lunchtime walk:
Sit or stand with eyes forward. Exhale with chin to chest. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, allowing gravity to deepen the pose with each breath. Return head to center while inhaling. Touch left ear to left shoulder. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to center and repeat on the right side.
Standard forward bend
Raise arms above the head. Exhale and bend forward from hip joints, lengthening the torso while moving deeper into the pose. Touch palms or fingertips to the floor or to the back of ankles (bend the knees if impaired or needed). Hold pose for 30 to 60 seconds. Inhale and return slowly to a standing position.
Seated spinal twist (for chair or floor)
Sit sideways, keeping knees together and ankles directly below them. Inhale and lift through the top of the chest to lengthen the core. Exhale and twist to the right, keeping left buttock on or close to the chair or floor. Lengthen lower back, turning the head the same way or to the opposite direction. Hold pose for 30 to 60 seconds (or three to six breaths on each side).
Online resources can provide more positions, or you can seek a certified yoga instructor for beginner-to-advanced study. If trying work-time yoga spurs further interest to explore a fuller yoga experience via studio instruction, go for it – and say Namaste!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano
Sources include www.mayoclinic.org.