Five Yoga-Inspired Stretches for Desk Dwellers to do Right NOW!

Looking for a relief from your 9-5? Try these moves to stretch out every part of your body that tenses up during the work day.

You roll out of bed in the morning, chug a cup of coffee, make your way to work, sit down at your desk and lock in for an 8+ hour work day. Sound familiar? We’ve been there. When you have so much to get done in a day, it’s easy to get lost in the motions. Your needs become an afterthought because you already have so much on your plate.

But the fact of the matter is this, and it’s simple: you will feel better, and therefore perform better, if you prioritize your own well-being.

Sitting at a desk all day means our muscles are essentially deactivated, which can wreak havoc on your hips, back, shoulders and neck, weakening them over time. We know that moving your body is essential to living a healthier life, but who’s got the time when you have to respond to that email, sit through that meeting, hit that deadline, etc.?

YOU have got the time! Yep, it’s true. We’ve put together this list of accessible stretches that you can do WHILE you respond to emails and DURING your team meetings.

Let’s start from the ground and work our way up.

Seated Pigeon

The hips are the biggest joint in the body. While sedentary, the hips are forced into one position, and one position only. This can affect not just the hips but also your low back and your legs. It’s important to keep the hips loose to stimulate blood flow through these areas.

You may even practice this stretch without knowing, but it’s important to do it on both sides of your body. Cross your ankle over the opposite knee, so your legs will make somewhat of a “4” shape. Keep your elevated foot flexed (this will protect the knee), and feel for reaching the elevated knee out to the side, and externally rotating the elevated thigh. You can even do this manually, by using your fingertips to rotate the thigh outwards. Take a deep inhale, and on your exhale, slowly lean forward with a straight spine. Take another deep inhale, and fold forward again on your exhale. Find your max, and hold for at least three deep breaths.

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Seated Twist

The spine is what holds it all together - it keeps you upright, and protects all of the functions of the body. Twisting is not only good for spinal health, but it also benefits your hips, shoulders and all surrounding muscles and tissue. If you can keep your spine from getting stiff, then you too will be more mobile.

Sitting with feet firmly planted and back straight, bring the back of one hand to the outside of the opposite knee. Take an inhale to lift the crown of your head up a little higher, and an exhale to twist to the right or left, towards the hand you brought across your body. It’s important to keep the hips square as you twist from the upper body, the shoulders. Inhale again, and as you exhale, feel for moving back the shoulder you are twisting towards. Hold for at least three deep breaths.

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Eagle Arms

It’s easy to overlook how tight your shoulders get from sitting hunched over at a desk all day. In fact, over time, the shoulders can round more and more forward simply from not noticing something like our posture! Use this pose to stretch the tops of the shoulders and increase mobility in the shoulders.

Bring your arms up overhead, and then bend at the elbows so your arms make a “goal post” or “cactus” shape. Cross one elbow under the other, so that the backs of your forearms and backs of the hands touch. Stay here, or double bind and bring the palms together, fingers face straight up. Wherever you are, inhale to squeeze the elbows together and exhale to push them forward, away from you. Hold for at least three deep breaths.

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Neck Stretch

We hold short-term stress in our necks and shoulders. So when you feel the pressure of that deadline, your shoulders can bunch up and tense up the muscles in your neck.

Relieve that in as little as a minute, by extending one arm at a downward-diagonal angle, pointing fingers to the spot where the wall meets the floor. Bring the opposite hand to the top of the head, take a deep inhale, and exhale to slowly lower the opposite ear down to the shoulder, so you are lengthening the side of the neck that your arm is extending from. Take at least three deep breaths.

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Pericardium Stretch

The secret weapon! The pericardium lining goes through the front of your chest, so this stretch can literally stretch your chest and your heart. In moments of stress and anxiety, it increases blood flow and oxygen to the heart and can help you calm down.

With a straight spine and feet planted, extend arms out to the side, parallel to the floor. Strongly flex fingertips up to the ceiling and spread them wide. From there, take a deep breath into your chest, and a strong exhale, imagining the exhale going out both sides of your chest, out of both palms. Hold the arms and hands in place as if you are keeping two walls from caving in on you. Take at least three deep breaths.

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You can do these stretches at any point during the day, for as long as you’d like. Just do them! And then take some time to notice how you feel before, during and after the work day. Let us know what you think about these in the comments, on Instagram or Facebook.






Why Sweatworking Is Replacing Networking

The new age of networking is here and it's covered in a thin layer of sweat.

 

Sick of having to choose between after work networking events and your evening workout? Fret no more fitness-focused professionals, because the age of sweatworking is here and it’s awesome! Meeting new people, forming new connections and keeping your body fit and healthy has never been easier to do all at once. Sweatworking is a term being used to describe networking events that include group workouts, team building exercises and healthy snacks or drinks. Whether your team is sweating through a cardio session or breathing together in a yoga class, sweatworking is beginning to replace traditional networking events.

 

Thanks to the sweatworking trend, gyms and fitness studios are seeing increased bookings. Many gyms, such as Equinox, have even begun to create classes specifically tailored to companies hosting sweatworking events. Some programs include challenges that employees can participate in over time while others are team building exercises built into a fitness class. Work From Om® is bringing mindful sweatworking programs directly to the office by offering on-site yoga and meditation sessions that help companies create more productive employees through breath awareness and mindful movement.

 

So, why sweatworking? What sort of benefits do these programs offer that traditional networking events fall short on? Some companies have begun using Sweatworking as a recruiting tool. When you put potential employees through a rigorous workout or team building exercise, their efforts can often reflect work ethic, willpower and determination. For current employees, sweatworking is a great way to build employees up by putting them through challenging experiences together and getting through it as a group. When you experience this sort of heightened excitement and satisfaction, you’re more likely to form closer and more positive relationships with those you experience it with. And let’s face it, it’s hard to deny the endorphins you get after an intense workout!

 

Most importantly, any healthy or mindful activities in the office are great for overall company health. When you encourage employees to stay active, they tend to lead healthier lifestyles. When you offer a group cardio or yoga class instead of drinking and eating events, employees begin to see positive results in their physical appearance, self confidence and general well being. Ultimately, this can lower healthcare costs for a company and create a more positive work environment with healthy, empowered employees. A happy workplace is filled with employees eager to sweat together at work events rather than nursing a hangover from the networking drink-up.

Not at a company that offers yoga classes or team workouts in the office? Work From Om® has teamed up with The Projective Space on the Lower East Side to bring yoga and networking events to NYC professionals every Tuesday evening. Start with an hour of vinyasa followed by complimentary drinks and networking in the downtown co-working space. Check out the Event Calendar for details on this weekly sweatworking event! 

 

Work From Om® Teams Up With Projective Space LES for Sunet Yoga + Open Bar Sweatworking

Big news! We've teamed up with Projective Space, an incredible membership community for growing startups, entrepreneurs and creative professionals, to provide ongoing sweatworking opportunities at their amazing Lower East Side space. We're calling it OMWork at Projective and you're invited!

Click here to grab your ticket for sunset yoga + open bar networking on July 19th at 6:30pm.

Join us for sunset yoga followed by a specialty cocktail open bar for an uplifting workout and social hour with some of the New York's brightest innovators. Grab a ticket for this week's OMWork at Projective event via Eventbrite and make sure to follow Projective Space and Work From Om® to stay up to date on future yoga and meditation events.  

Some highlights from the last one to get you in the spirit:

An hour of live DJ yoga began the evening as a full house of guests moved together on their mats at Projective Space on the Lower East Side. Following class, the group turned up the tempo and the energy with an open bar and networking happy hour. The “OMWork Gin-Coco”, featuring Tanqueray gin and Zico coconut water was poured all evening as the group drank, danced and made new connections.

 

 

Follow Work From Om® on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on all of our events!

 

 

This Is Your Brain and Body on Yoga and Meditation: 4 Powerful Scientific Findings

By Sarah Vaynerman
This article first appeared in The Huffington Post

The many benefits of yoga, a 5,000-year-old discipline, are finally getting support from modern science.

If you've ever taken a vinyasa class or spent time meditating, you may be familiar with the even-keeled buzz often referred to in the yoga world as "yoga bliss" or "yoga high." As it turns out, several recent studies support that this feeling of mind-body nirvana is not just a fleeting sentiment, but rather an indication of some very real physical responses that could lead to better health, reduced stress and increased productivity.

Yoga gets on your nerves, in the best way

The human body is an incredible, interconnected web of life, but one key player doesn't get nearly enough credit. Many people are entirely unaware of the vagus nerve, which extends from the base of the brain and branches out through the neck, chest and abdomen. It is essentially the command center for regulating the homeostasis of many vital organ systems including the heart, lungs and digestive tract. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine presented evidence that yoga helps to regulate vagal tone, or the homeostasis of these systems, by stimulating and increasing the activity of stress-blocking neurotransmitters.

Mindfulness meditation can literally change your brain

A team of Harvard researchers compared MRIs of meditators to non-meditators before and after an eight-week course in mindfulness-based stress reduction, where participants practiced meditation on average for 27 minutes a day. Meditators showed a significant increase in gray matter in the hippocampus, which is associated with learning and memory, and a decrease in gray matter in the amygdala, which is associated with anxiety and stress. The non-meditating control group showed none of these changes in brain structure.

A few deep breaths really do go a long way.

 A study published in 2013 by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that participants showed a significant reduction in blood pressure following 10 minutes of alternate nostril breathing and 10 minutes of breath awareness compared to a control group. The study concluded that alternate nostril breathing is associated with improved focus and attention while keeping anxiety levels low. This is significant because tasks requiring focus and attention are usually associated with stimulating the nervous system -- a response that can be dangerous for those with conditions such as hypertension and high stress levels.

Not all exercise is created equal

Think yoga is just one way to get the benefits of any aerobic workout? Think again. A University of Illinois study concluded that 20 minutes of Hatha yoga improved participants' ability to maintain focus and take in, retain and use new information significantly more so than after 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity. In fact, participants showed no significant improvements on working memory and inhibitory control scores after activities like jogging, while reaction times and accuracy on cognitive tasks following yoga increased.

How To Slow Down Time: Meditation And The Theory Of Relativity

By Sarah Vaynerman
This article first appeared in The Huffington Post

If asked what meaningful accomplishment one could achieve in just 10 minutes, most of us would be hard-pressed to come up with an answer. Ten minutes is nothing! But ask the average person to sit quietly and focus only on mindful breathing meditation for those same ten minutes and be prepared to be met with an incredulous scowl and an unwillingness to participate. Ten minutes, in the latter scenario, may as well be a lifetime. It's all relative.

Meditation can be scary. In an age where the demand for our attention is greater than ever - Psychology Today estimates that the average person has 25,000-50,000 thoughts per day -- the idea of sitting alone with one's thoughts can be understandably daunting. We're used to being at the beck and call of our smartphones, each notification supplying a very real hit of dopamine that validates our desire to be needed, liked, or even just noticed by the outside world. What most people fail to realize is that we've created a vicious cycle of false and unsustainable gratification.

Next time you sit down to meditate, think of it this way: You're giving yourself the gift of time and attention, indeed a commodity that becomes scarcer every day. Sure, meditation can make 60 seconds feel like an hour, but as human beings we have the power to choose whether that seemingly endless minute is ridden with debilitating anxiety or a blissful calm. We all have a choice, in any moment, to tune into our best self.

Try it right now by following these instructions: Close your eyes and take a deep breath for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of eight. As you inhale, really feel the cool air flowing in through your nose. Visualize the flow of oxygen through your respiratory system, traveling to all of the nooks and crannies of your body. As you exhale, imagine all of the stress you've been holding float away with your out-breath. Repeat five times. You've just activated your parasympathetic nervous system (ie your relaxation response) and all it took was one minute.

Congratulations! You just meditated. Didn't it feel nice?

I have great news for you -- that gift of serenity that you just gave yourself is available in infinite abundance and is instantly accessible anytime, anywhere. And if that minute of calm felt like much longer, you've just made the theory of relativity work in your favor, effectively enabling yourself to slow down your own perception of time and experience it at its best. In other words, you're learning how to manipulate the very concept of time (#mindblown) using breath-based meditation.

So next time you're feeling one of the many natural but unpleasant emotions that human beings face every day, just close your eyes, focus on your breath and give yourself a minute of relaxation that feels like an hour.

 

4 Yoga Props You Can Keep Under Your Desk and Use at the Office (NYC, we're talkin' to you!)

4 Yoga Props You Can Keep Under Your Desk and Use at the Office (NYC, we're talkin' to you!)

No time for yoga? Nonsense! That excuse is as tired as your lower back after a day of crunching numbers at the office. In fact, you may be surprised at how much mind-body work you can fit in between your emails, calls, meetings, and coffee runs. Every moment offers an opportunity to check in with the body and the breath, and with these handy props it’s never been easier to make yourself at om right at the office.

Check out the 4 yoga props that you can keep under your desk - without losing precious legroom!

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Stress Management and Running From Tigers

Stress Management and Running From Tigers

Office-dwellers of New York City, I have a some questions for you. Just to humor me, please read them over and make a mental selection of your answers. Here we go:

  • What is more frightening: running from a tiger or making a presentation in front of co-workers / clients?

  • What is more intimidating: battling a predator for food or clamoring against another commuter for the last seat on a rush-hour subway car?

  • What requires more focus: escaping a fire or escaping a last-minute Friday 5pm assignment?

The choices seem obvious, right? Well... not quite, at least from a physical standpoint. Believe it or not, since all of these scenarios are stress-worthy by today’s standards, you’re likely to experience a pounding heart, sweaty brow, hands that get cold and clammy, and tense muscles as much from fighting for that rush-hour subway seat as you are from running from a tiger (albeit maybe not to the exact same intensity).

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Tiny victories and the power of experiencing achievement - in life, at work and on your yoga mat

Tiny victories and the power of experiencing achievement - in life, at work and on your yoga mat

You’re here! Congratulations! Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. If you’re thinking, “Uh, thanks, Sarah, but I haven’t really done anything deserving of self-celebration,” I would beg to differ. You could be watching a cat video. You could be scrutinizing your ex’s new haircut on Facebook. Instead, you’re walking the path of happy, healthy, high-functioning human beings and making the choice to indulge in content that could actually improve your day-to-day life. Well done! I’m not patronizing you here - the power of tiny victories is real and well-documented (though not discussed or promoted nearly enough in a society that puts tremendous value on large leaps and big wins) and applies at both the personal and organization levels.

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Work From Om Welcomes an Urban Monk!

Work From Om Welcomes an Urban Monk!

It’s not every day that you have the pleasure of sitting down with a true monastic (over some delicious, home-prepared vegan treats), to discuss shared beliefs and ways to bring those beliefs into the mainstream of New York City office-dwellers. But that’s precisely what we have had the fortune of doing in the last few weeks with the newest member of team Work From Om®, Gadadhara Pandit Dasa. It is with full hearts and overflowing excitement that we welcome Pandit’s expertise in the fields of meditation, stress management and conscious leadership. We are honored to have Pandit on board as we rollout premium Work From Om® Mindful Business Workshops in the lineup of our current offerings.

Pandit spent 15 years as a practicing monk and maintains 20 years of experience with the science of meditation. He has gone on to lead workshops at Google, Bank of America, Intel and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. He has also led lectures at esteemed institutes of higher learning such as Harvard University, Columbia University, Duke University, Princeton University, University of Southern California and Illinois State University.

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Sit smarter with these yoga-inspired tips for office workers and business travlers

Sit smarter with these yoga-inspired tips for office workers and business travlers

This last week has been a blur of airports and cities, cars, buses, metros, etc. Not to be misunderstood, I do sincerely love to travel, but there is no denying that it can be an incredibly grueling, exhausting process on both the physical and mental bodies. The hours spent sitting on planes, trains and in cars alone are enough to cause some damage that even the busiest tourist or traveling business person cannot simply walk off.

You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking, or you may have taken notice of the recent surge in demand for standing desks in progressive offices across the country, but the unfortunate truth is that many of us do not yet have access to these desks, or spend much of our work lives traveling, and cannot avoid the act of sitting entirely.

With this unavoidable health risk facing us as we work and travel, how can we limit the repercussions of a highly sedentary lifestyle? I’ve copied some of the best nuggets of advice that I’ve collected in the following infographic, explained in more detail below it.

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Work From Om - A Word From Our Founders

Work From Om - A Word From Our Founders

It’s official: yoga has reached the tipping point. Long viewed as a light form of exercise for new age hippies, the mainstream has come to embrace the teachings of the 5,000 year-old practice as a powerful tool for self-improvement, overall health and general well-being. Unlike many health and fitness fads that have come and gone over the years, however, it’s not just fitness enthusiasts, celebrities and media personalities that are getting on board the zen train. The corporate world has taken notice of the positive effects that yoga, meditation and a mindful approach to business have proven to have on employees and, in turn, the bottom line.

Study after study has found that these practices reduce stress, improve focus, build camaraderie and contribute to a higher functioning workplace, and our New York City startup is aiming to lead the revolution. Allow us to introduce ourselves: we go by Work From Om, but our goals and intentions are set by myself, Ashley Mancuso, and co-founder Sarah Vaynerman. We’re two certified and passionate yoga teachers here to serve the souls of professionals working in one of America’s most stressed-out cities by providing yoga, meditation and mindfulness training for the workplace.

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