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.






Don't Just Spend Your Time - Honor It! How to Make the Most of Your Most Valuable Resource

In our last post, we discussed how to stay mindful in an age of distraction. It’s easy to get lost in the motions of life, between our daily obligations, staying current with news and social media, needing time to socialize and more.

One way to stop the motions is to adopt practices that honor your time, not ones that just pass the time. Life is not meant to just pass us by, but that often happens without us even realizing it.

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From the moment we wake up, we begin to anticipate what’s coming up that day. Once we begin to push through our day, we are trying to get to dinner plans that night. Once that is over, we head home, and numb our minds with television and technology. We fall asleep, wake up, and do it all over again. We are always living for the next moment, always hoping for something that hasn’t happened yet.

“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. Your life is only ever now.” - Eckhart Tolle

How can we slow things down? How can we maximize our time so we can get the most out of our lives in every moment?

Accept Where You Are Right Now
We can become consumed in the thoughts of, “When I do this, or accomplish that, then I will be happy.” When we get that promotion, move to this city, find a partner, lose ten pounds, is when we feel our life can truly begin! But life is happening right now, and when our minds are focused on what we need in the future, we miss out on what can be done in the present.

... but know it’s not forever, and don’t settle
Where we are right now is not necessarily where we will be in six months, two weeks, or even an hour. The only constant is change. If we do want that promotion or that healthy lifestyle, we need to start with what we have. You receive a promotion for working hard and working effectively, so, start doing that right now. You can live a healthy lifestyle by nourishing your body and your mind, so, start doing that right now. When we think about big and lofty goals, we tend to overcomplicate the present. Just begin.

Stop Doing Things You Hate
There is a lot of power in saying no. If you don’t want to go to that birthday party, take on a new project, or collaborate with a colleague, I’ll tell you a little secret - you don’t have to! It’s natural to want to be polite and please everyone, but being a people pleaser in the moment can lead to suffering later on.

Allow yourself to politely decline any offers that won’t contribute to your overall well-being, and use that time instead to focus on yourself. Make productive, positive habits that will really pay off in the long run. Take the time to get organized and set intentions. The possibilities are endless, and the power to choose is YOURS!

Connect By Disconnecting.
At Work From Om®, we believe in the the value of connecting to what matters, and disconnecting when needed. We have endless options to occupy our brains -- social media, a 24/7 news cycle, “Netflix and chill” -- you get it. But when we emphasize taking the time to connect, we don’t mean by commenting on your acquaintance from high school’s engagement announcement. We mean in the present moment, with the people and places right in front of you. Put your phone away during a family meal, turn off the television on a weekend afternoon, or designate certain hours for social media and checking emails. Disconnect from the world inside developing technology and connect to the world all around you.

Meditate and Move.
It’s also important to take the time to connect to the world within you. Meditating is a vital practice that can help you cultivate a sense of stillness and ease in your everyday life. Sit and focus on your breath for just one minute every day, eventually moving up to five minutes, ten minutes, and so on. As you continue to practice and build your meditation muscles, you’ll see you can act more mindfully as you live each day.

So, we sit still for the well-being of our minds, but we move for our bodies. We know that regular exercise can aid in increased energy levels and weight loss, but it can also reduce your risk of disease by stimulating blood flow, and strengthen your organs like the heart and lungs. Regular movement is just as important for a healthy body as it is for a healthy mind. So instead of sitting idle, mindlessly watching television to pass the time, get out there and move!

If you'd like to learn more ways to honor your time in every moment, let's work together. Check out our Intro to Mindfulness and Breathing Meditation workshop, and get in touch!