Long hours at your desk may be rewarded with a great appraisal, but on the flip side, a sedentary lifestyle takes its toll on your health. Complaints of neck, shoulder and back pain are common. But these posture-related problems can easily be tackled, without leaving your desk with these simple ‘yoga in office’ stretches.
For starters, make it a practice to take short breaks at work, like every 2-3 hours. You can do desktop stretches, walk, or just do some basic stretches (like lifting hands up, bending to each side, etc) during this time. There are also some exercises you can practice to ease the mental strain caused by long hours at the desk.
Here are four simple moves:
1. Neck forward and backward stretch
While seated on your chair, back straight, interlock your fingers and place them behind your head with your palms touching your head. Now slowly use your palms to push your head down, so that your chin touches your throat. Don’t bend your back while pushing your head down; use only your neck.
Hold this position for 5-7 seconds, or longer if you feel nice and relaxed. This is a forward stretch.
For a backward stretch, interlock your fingers, with your palms touching each other, and place both thumbs under your chin. Now, slowly lift your chin up, pushing it with your thumbs. Again, ensure your back is straight, and as you push your chin up, don’t recline. This stretches the muscles around the neck and releases tension.
2. Spinal Twist
Seated, you can twist your spine from both sides. Turning to the right, hold the right hand-rest of the chair with your left hand, keeping your right hand locked to the chair’s backrest. Hold it there for 7-10 seconds. Then turn to your left, hold the left hand-rest with your right hand, and lock your left hand to the backrest. Hold for 7-10 seconds. This helps align your spine, releasing the stiffness and tension created when you sit for long hours.
3. Back Stretch
Seated, just bend forward, and rest your torso on your thighs. Let your arms hang free besides your legs. Hold for 15-20 seconds. This exercise helps stretch the entire back, releases fatigue and stiffness, and helps you sit long hours without discomfort.
4. Saral Pranayama (Simple breathing)
Close your eyes while seated on the chair, back straight, and with one hand on your abdomen, and the other on the hand-rest, breath deeply (if you normally breathe in for 3 seconds, make it 4 seconds, and exhale for the same duration). Be aware, or conscious, while you take the air in, and throw it out. The hand on the abdomen helps keep your mind engaged with the movement of the abdomen (as you inhale it bulges out, as you exhale it sinks in). Deep breathing with awareness helps keep your mind more aware, calm, and focused. Also, as your eyes remain closed while you perform this exercise, they too are rested before you get back to work.
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