Spending too much time sitting at a desk can eventually take a toll on your health. And while the ideal solution is to break up your workday with a brisk walk, exercise class or time at the gym, it might be difficult to find the time and equipment needed to break a sweat. The good news? Incorporating daily stretches into your fitness routine can make a big difference.
Make it a point to do these four yoga hacks (courtesy of our friends at 99u.com) while you’re at work every day. You’ll help loosen your muscles, increase blood flow and give yourself a much-needed boost of energy, too—no fitness equipment required!
The Problem: After frequent texting and typing, your wrists feel stiff and sore.
Yoga Hack: Come to your hands and knees. Then, flip one wrist at a time, palms face down, with fingers pointing towards your knees. Start by making small circles over your wrists, shifting weight forwards and backwards. If this feels painful, keep working here and try adding a little more pressure each day. When you’re ready to move on, you can extend one leg back at a time, so that you’re in a plank pose (top of a push-up) with your wrists flipped. This will stretch out your wrist joints, while bringing new blood to the area, giving you more flexibility and range overtime, and helping to fight off arthritis.
The Problem: As your day draws to a close you find yourself slumping closer and closer to your screen, and by the time you log off you look more like Mr. Burns than your tall self.
Yoga Hack: Stand with feet hips width distance apart (if you’re not sure how wide this is, you can measure by placing two fists between your feet). Bend your knees as you fold forward, with the crown of your head dropping towards the ground. Clasp your palms behind your back and let them fall overhead. This is an intense shoulder stretch that will open up the front side of your body, counteracting any residual rounding from poor posture.
Problem: You work at a standing desk, but put all your weight on one hip at a time, or worse–you still find ways to slouch!
Yoga Hack: There’s a big difference between standing casually and standing up in yoga (also known as Mountain Pose). Start with your feet hips width distance apart, shift weight back into your heels, then into the balls of your feet, and rest somewhere in the middle so that you’re pressing all four corners of each foot into the ground (your feet should be so planted that you could withstand a gentle push without having to readjust).
Bend your knees and slowly straighten, mindfully stacking bone on top of bone. Roll your shoulders up to your ears and down the back. Puff up your chest, while tucking your chin slightly and gazing straight ahead (this will help stack your cervical spine on top of your thoracic spine, helping to eliminate back pain). Lastly, and most importantly, engage your thighs! You can do this by energetically drawing your legs upward, and flexing your adductor muscles. This will distribute your body weight evenly, so that the biggest muscles in your body (the muscles in your legs) can take weight off your joints, which will leave you feeling more energized, alert and symmetrical after standing for long periods at a time.
Problem: You take short, sharp breaths while completing stressful tasks, or worse, you hold your breath completely as a subconscious means of focusing.
Yoga Hack: Set a calendar reminder that goes off every three hours telling you to “breathe deeply.” When you see the alert start by exhaling all the air out of your lungs. Inhale fully through your nose (you should see your belly expand when you inhale), then slowly and evenly exhale, sending air from your belly through your chest, throat and finally nose, while lips are lightly sealed. Repeat as many times as you like. This controlled form of breathing (also known as Ujjayi breath) improves concentration while slowing down the nervous system, which negates any anxiety or stress we’re holding in the body. Pretty powerful stuff!