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.






True Life: Kitchen Essentials. Part Two.

Namaste, OMies! Maggie, here. We are back with Part Two of my ride or die kitchen essentials. Part One covered the pantry, and this week we are taking a very exciting deep dive into my refrigerator. Never thought I would be typing that sentence, but I'm excited nonetheless! 

Every day I'm guiding clients to work from their own OM, and in order to effectively do that, it's important that I myself am operating from a place of truth. This, to me, means ensuring my body and mind are nourished with the proper nutrients, which can get a little tough with such a hectic schedule. 

After years of trial and error, I have finally found what I deem to be a sustainable balance. As with my pantry items from last week's post, these refrigerator staples allow me to make quick and easy meals, some of which I can eat on the go and others I can come home after a long day and have ready in 10 minutes.

Having said that, here are my Top 5 FRIDGE ITEMS:

*Disclaimer - I am not by any means a nutritionist or doctor. This is just what works for me, and I encourage you to find what works for you.*

Photo courtesy of  Raw Pet Kitchen

Photo courtesy of Raw Pet Kitchen

 

FRUITS

I could literally eat an entire pineapple if given the opportunity. I. Love. Fruit. Even in the dead of winter! I always have bananas and blueberries somewhere in my kitchen, and when I’m feeling it I’ll throw in some pineapple chunks, mango, strawberries, raspberries and/or blackberries. I try to reserve my fruit consumption to earlier in the day (not always successfully, but alas) so I have ample time to use the energy and digest the natural sugars.

*Pro tip*

Throw some fruit in the freezer, and when you want a sweet little treat, eat by itself or blend with choice of milk and nut butter. Sweet tooth = satisfied.

 

SUPER SEEDS

Chia, flax and hemp seeds are a part of my daily routine. I call them “super” because, yes, they are considered “superfoods,” but I also put them on a very high pedestal and credit them with making me feel SUPER.

I mix all three in a mason jar and store it in the fridge for freshness, and put them in smoothies, on oatmeal, salads.. really anything that makes remotely any sense. These are another source high in Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which can also improve heart health and cholesterol levels. They provide a good serving of fiber, antioxidants, and are a complete protein.

 

ALL OF THE GREENS AND VEGGIES

This doesn’t need much of an explanation. We know that greens and vegetables fuel a healthy life, and I am all aboard that train. I restock my greens and vegetables supply every week, and typically go for spinach, arugula, romaine, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. This can change with the season, but they all give me a lot of room to mix and match for my meals.

 

PRE-MADE DRESSINGS AND SAUCES

I am all about that meal prep life. I don't have a designated day to meal prep (though Sundays are a solid choice), I just do it whenever I have a few hours at home. This includes roasting vegetables, washing greens, cooking grains and proteins, and... mixing up my favorite dressings and sauces, because what is life without condiments? It's a sad life, that's what. 

But instead of using ketchup with mystery ingredients, prepackaged dressings with all of the oil and sodium, etc., I've started making my own! I know what you're thinking, "Maggie, that is too complicated, I'm not down with this." But let me tell you, if I can get down with it, then you can too. 

My favorite salad dressing is simply a mixture of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sometimes I will put a serving of tahini in there, and it has a faint resemblance to caesar dressing. My favorite sauce is a vegan cheese sauce I found on the Instagram; a blend of cashews, olive oil, water, nutritional yeast, paprika, salt and pepper. Sometimes I will throw in some spinach to get those extra greens, too! It's creamy, it's delicious, it's everything. I will prep a batch of both of these and store them in the fridge for the week. If you have questions on exact recipes, PLEASE ask, because I can talk about this stuff for hours.

 

NON-DAIRY MILK

I tend to avoid dairy. I’ve discovered I just feel lighter without it! So, in comes non-dairy milk, typically almond, for smoothies, oatmeal, coffee, and any recipe that calls for milk. I was never much a milk drinker, I actually don’t think I’ve ever had a full glass, so I suppose I don’t know what I’m missing by choosing this substitute, but it keeps my tummy happy!

 

And that’s that! I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my everyday life and it gave you some inspiration to find what makes YOU feel good! I’d love to hear your feedback or any questions in the comment section below, or reach out on Instagram.

 

Love you all,

Maggie

 

 

5 Companies Crushing The Wellness Game

workplace wellness

Thanks to a growing yoga industry, holistic health obsessions and hundreds of trending articles circulating the internet about living your healthiest life in mind and body, “wellness” is one of the biggest buzzwords of 2016. But meditation advocates and organic farmers aren’t the only ones jumping on the wellness train; companies have begun to mix up their health program offerings to stay up to date on these changes.

So why do companies have a vested interest in workplace wellness? The obvious answer is that they care if their employees are healthy. The other reasons are based on facts proven by successful wellness programs. Companies that have more robust wellness offerings experience lower employee absenteeism and reduced healthcare costs. By offering yoga or group fitness classes, you will not only see an improvement in overall employee health but increased engagement and productivity during work hours.

Obviously some companies have caught on sooner than others. Some organizations are knocking the wellness game out of the park with unique and plentiful offerings to keep employees fit, healthy and productive at work. Check out these five companies who are ahead of the workplace wellness game:

  • Greatist — This wellness publication sure knows how to practice what they preach by treating their employees right. From monthly team sweats to weekly yoga and a fitness stipend, every Greatist employee is sure to keep their body healthy and happy. That way, they know how to write about wellness and set an example for the rest of the world.
  • FitBit — By creating custom programs for tons of other organizations, FitBit has figured out how competitions and gamification can improve employee overall health and ultimately lower company health costs. It’s no surprise that this 9 year old fitness company has fitness and wellness incentives for their employees. Their “Workout Wednesdays” give employees the chance to participate in various workouts throughout the day and you guessed it, they also have step challenges running throughout the year with seriously awesome rewards for winners.
  • Google — No one’s surprised to see this tech giant here. Google is known for being an amazing employer and offering the most sought after employee perks. They surely encompass wellness initiatives such as on-campus fitness classes and gyms, massage stipends and most importantly, free and healthy food options all day every day!
  • General Electric — This age-old corporation might be older than your grandma, but they sure know how to stay up to date with wellness offerings. Besides offering a stellar health coach program and employee and family health counseling, they use social media to create a buzz around their #GetFit competition which has reached over 25 million participants per year.
  • Sprinklr — This NYC-based startup offers a top notch insurance options in addition to gym membership discounts. But why stop there? Sprinklr also offers in-office yoga with a Work From Om teacher on a regular basis. Plus, who wouldn’t want to join a company who calls their employees “Sprinklrites?”

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!

 

 

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.

 

Stress Management Techniques & Meditation with NYC's "Urban Monk", Yoga for the Office With Certified Corporate Yoga Teachers!

Stress Management Techniques & Meditation with NYC's "Urban Monk", Yoga for the Office With Certified Corporate Yoga Teachers!

Picture this: it’s Monday evening and you’re in a packed room filled with NYC’s busiest professionals - in quiet meditation. Sounds impossible, right? Wrong! Nothing is impossible. Indeed, this was exactly the scene we set at last week’s Stress Management, Yoga and Meditation Workshop at OFFSITE, our preferred venue partner for corporate events.

On May 4th we held our first open-to-the-public event with Pandit Dasa, Work From Om® Urban Monk-in-Residence who spent more than fifteen years as an East Village monk, studying and applying wellness and meditation techniques and helping countless New Yorkers cope with stress. In this two-part event, attendees were engaged in Pandit’s Stress Management Talk & Guided Meditation, followed by a Mindful Movement asana sequence and demos led by our co-founder and certified yoga teacher Ashley Mancuso.

Here’s a summary of the takeaways for those of you who weren’t able to make it (don’t worry - more events are on the horizon!), and a refresher for those of you who were.

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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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