5 stress-relieving yoga poses that you can do at the office
Winter is fast approaching and the cold weather is settling in. As if keeping warm wasn’t hard enough on its own, now we have to manage with less sunshine, too. In November, we have to make do with a paltry 9 hours of daylight—6 hours less than in the summer! It’s always a bit depressing to go to and from work in the dark… and it isn’t just bad for our morale either! It also causes all sorts of physical upheavals that mustn’t be ignored: vitamin D deficiency, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and digestive problems, to name but a few.
Fortunately, adding a little yoga to your daily routine will help counteract the effects of winter by exerting a positive influence on your digestive system, mood, and general wellbeing. These simple yet effective poses are easy to fit in between two meetings or during your lunch break. They’ll help you relieve the tension and stress caused by long hours sitting at a desk—something that’s definitely worth doing whatever the weather! So here are the 5 poses I recommend:
Breathing in through your nose, clench your fists, contract the muscles in your arms and hunch your shoulders tightly (photo A). Breathe out through your mouth, releasing your fists, arms and shoulders (photo B). Do this 3 times.
Standing firmly rooted on the ground, breathe in and lower your head to the right, moving your right ear towards your right shoulder. Breathe out, then hold the position for 3 complete breaths. Bring your head up to center again. Now lower your head to the left, moving your left ear towards your left shoulder. Breathe out and hold the position for 3 complete breaths.
Breathing in, lift your arms up to the sky and look at the ceiling (photo A). Breathe out and bend forward, letting your head and arms sink freely towards the floor. Now cross your forearms and hold your elbows, holding this position for 3 deep breaths (photo B). You can bend your knees slightly if you wish. Gently roll up the spine, one vertebra at a time, until you are standing up straight again.
Stand beside your desk or chair. Breathe in and stretch your arms up to the sky. Breathing out, stretch out your back as you bring your torso down until your hands rest on the desk or chair. You can bend your knees slightly if you wish. Take 5 deep breaths in this position. Now put your hands on your hips and gently straighten up from the waist, keeping your legs firmly rooted to the ground and using your abdominal muscles to lift you up.
Breathe in, raise your right arm towards the sky, then breathe out. Slide your left leg behind your right, then continue to slide it to the right, putting both hands on your right thigh. The front knee is slightly bent. You can then open your elbows out to the side, bending the top half of your body down further or even letting your hands continue on down to the floor, if you are flexible enough. Take 3 complete breaths, then do the same on the other side.
Click on this link to see a video of the whole routine with Marie-Ève Bertrand. Lastly, when there just isn’t enough natural daylight any more, why not start the day with a little meditation? Just find a quiet spot for your yoga mat, preferably facing east, and open a window—even if it’s a bit cold. The fresh air will help you wake up. Close your eyes and take the time to breathe deeply as you visualize your inner sun. It will warm you up in no time and its light will be with you all the way to work! Enjoy your yoga!