Whether you’re working from home while your company is employing social distancing measures, or your business is making a more permanent shift to embrace the new work from home culture, spending too much time sitting at your desk can leave you feeling stiff and achy.
You may not have heard much about “sitting disease,” but there are countless health hazards to devoting too much time to your home office chair or sofa. Sitting for too long with poor posture can even cause back problems. Our bodies are designed to move! Sitting for too long may also contribute to anxiety and depression, some cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and varicose veins.
We’re already spending our quarantine days in athleisure wear which means have everything you need! Why not add a yoga routine to your day to loosen your joints and relieve your stress?
Ask any expert or novice practitioner and they’ll rave about the benefits of yoga for mental and physical health. Can a little at-home yoga really revolutionize your life? You’d be surprised. Here’s what you need to know about all the positive ways yoga can impact your work-from-home lifestyle.
- Improve your flexibility and muscle strength
- Improve your posture and protect your spine
- Prevent cartilage and joint breakdowns
- Boost your bone health and your blood flow
- Reduce your blood pressure
- Regulate your adrenal glands and drain your lymph nodes
- Improve your focus
- Help develop healthier sleep patterns and deeper sleep
- Improve your mood
- Manage digestive issues
If you’re feeling anxious about what’s happening in the world, yoga is also a stellar way to manage your stress and anxiety.
Yoga is for Everyone
The coolest thing about Yoga? Anyone can do it.
You may have seen pictures of complicated poses, where yogis contort their bodies into seemingly impossible pretzel shapes as though gravity doesn’t exist. These images can be intimidating, but rest assured, yoga is for everybody and every level of fitness and flexibility.
As Amy Opeilowski of CorePower Yoga said to SELF magazine, “Anyone can step on a yoga mat as long as they have an open mind and heart to try something new without judgment or expectation.” In actuality, yoga is more about letting go of the pretzel-person you see on Instagram and more of an acceptance of where you are and how each pose makes you feel.
What kinds of yoga stretches and poses are great to compliment working from home?
1. Hip Openers
This is a stretch you can do from your chair. Sitting all day can actually shorten our hip flexor muscles, which can create issues in the hip joint. To open your hips, try a hip opener stretch. Sit forward in your chair, with both feet hip-width on the floor in front of you, directly underneath your knees. Then, cross one ankle over the opposite knee (like a figure four), and gently stretch forward. You can hold this pose for 30 seconds to around a minute per side.
2. Forward Fold
Here’s a great stretch for you, especially if your hamstrings are particularly tight or you carry a lot of extra tension in your lower back. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width (about 6 inches) apart, and slowly dive forward, thinking of keeping your chest long, reaching your chest towards your toes. After a moment, you can relax your spine, and allow the weight of your body to continue to pull your body closer to your legs.
You can add a slight bend in your knees to make this easier, or try looping your fingers around your big toes to make it more challenging. You can hold this pose for 30 seconds, and up to a few minutes.
3. Tree Pose
Work on your balance, quiet racing thoughts, and feel confident in yourself with tree pose. Ground your standing leg into the floor and turn your opposite foot so the sole of your foot is facing the side of your standing leg. Place the sole of your foot on the outside of your ankle, calf, or thigh, and bring your hands into a comfortable position, such as in a prayer pose in front of you. Hold for as long as two minutes, breathing, then repeat on the other leg.
4. Triangle Pose
Release lower back tension and stretch tightening hamstrings with triangle pose. Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders, facing your left toes forwards and your right toes facing the right side of the room. Extend your arms out from your shoulders (like a “T”) with your palms facing down.
Keeping your arms and torso where they are, extend your torso towards the right side of the room, then hinge at your hip joint to bring your right hand towards your right leg so that your arm, side of your torso, and right leg form a triangle, with your left arm reaching towards the ceiling. Your right hand can rest on your leg or the floor. Breathe and hold for around 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
5. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
This stretch is just like it sounds; and allows for complete relaxation of your mind and body, and will stretch out “tech neck” and stiff shoulders. Sit with your right side against the wall, then lie back as you swing your legs up the wall so that your body forms an “L,” with your sitting bones as close to the wall as possible. This might be a few inches away, which is perfectly fine. Relax and soften your back, neck, and shoulders. Hold this pose and breathe for as long as 10 minutes.
6. Cat and Cow Poses
Stretch out your whole spine with cat and cow poses. Come to your hands and knees, and while exhaling, round your spine up towards the ceiling like a cat arching its back, elongating your spine as you do. Then, inhale, lifting your chest and your hips towards the ceiling, while dropping your belly towards the floor, thinking of lengthening the space from your clavicles to your belly button. Continue breathing and shifting between these two poses to warm up and stretch your spine.
7. Downward-Facing Dog Pose
This pose will work your whole body, lengthening your spine and your hamstrings, strengthening your arms, shoulders, and back, and improving your posture.
To begin, come to the floor on your hands and knees, then exhale and lift your knees away from the floor, lifting your sitting bones towards the ceiling, pressing your heels towards the floor and your palms deep into the floor so that your body becomes an upside-down letter “V.” You can bend your knees slightly to make this position more comfortable, or work to straighten your knees without locking them. Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
8. Cobra Pose
Open your heart and let your shoulders drop down away from your ears with cobra pose. Lay with your belly on the floor, stretching your legs behind you, activating your leg muscles, and pointing your toes. With your hands up by your chest, hug your elbows into your body.
Keeping your hips firmly on the floor, inhale and straighten your arms, lifting your chest away from the floor, maintaining an activation in the muscles in your lower body. If your shoulders start to creep up, release tension in your shoulders and allow them to drop. Hold this pose for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily, then lower back to the floor, repeating as desired.
9. Child’s Pose
Kneel on the floor, bringing your toes together and spreading your knees slightly wider than your hips. Exhale and lay your torso between your knees, reaching your arms straight out in front of you and elongating your spine from the top of your head to the tip of your tailbone. Breathe, and hold this pose for anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes.
10. Try a 5-Minute Meditation
If you are feeling anxious, or fatigued after staring at your screen for too long, you can quiet your thoughts and reset your energy levels with just a quick meditation. Even just a few minutes can make a huge difference in your whole day. While you can meditate seated at your desk in your home office, you might want to try laying flat on the floor with your arms at your sides and your palms facing up, and your legs flat on the floor in front of you.
Become aware of your breath. Gradually relax each part of your body, one at a time. Don’t forget to relax things like your fingers, your face, and your neck and shoulders! With each exhalation, imagine each part of your body getting heavier as though it’s sinking into the floor.
Take long, even, slow breaths in and out, focusing on quieting your brain and focusing your thoughts.
Coming out of mediation, first take a few slow breaths, bringing life and energy back into your limbs. You may want to take your time coming to sitting or standing following your meditation session.
Taking time to relax and release your stress is one of the most important things you can do for your body, mind, and your work. If you’re searching for other ways to make your work life less stressful, VIOLIN Systems has an entire system of all-flash arrays and other solutions to ensure your system is always working for you, no matter where your office is—even if your whole team is working from home.
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