Are you sitting down for this? Research shows that a full day of sitting can be terrible for our health. Even though we knew this intuitively (clearly a sprint on the beach is healthier than a sprint through our email box!) we’re still encouraged to take those stretching breaks, walk the block more frequently and try routines like this one from yogi, Ryann Hanes-Sloan, to counter the degenerating effects of a day spent glued to our desks….
If you spend a large portion of your day seated at a desk or in a car you could be stifling your mind, your body and your productivity. Staying seated for extended periods of time has been linked to muscle degeneration, back and neck pain and high blood pressure. Add these postures to your day to combat brain fog, stimulate your circulatory system and wake up the areas of the body that are strained from this common problem.
Stage 1: Wake Up The Knees, Wrists and Neck
This pose allows you to touch base with your mental state, it calms the nervous system and gives you an opportunity to pay attention to your breath. This is an excellent posture for stretching the tops of the feet and bringing circulation to the knee joints.
Begin by sitting back onto your heels. If this is uncomfortable on your knees grab a block or a folded blanket and place it between your feet so that your hips sit higher and your knees have more space.
Place your hands on your thighs and focus on your breath. Take six deep breaths.
Wrist + Neck Stretch
Stretching the wrists helps improve the flexibility of all of the muscles and tendons that cross through wrist, which can become very tight with over use of the hands or typing. Drawing the chin to the chest helps to alleviate the cervical spine tension that can build up in times of stress and in extended periods of sitting.
From Kneeling Pose, shift forward and plant your hands on the ground in front of you. Gently lift your left hand off of the ground and rotate your fingers to face your knees.
Apply gentle pressure to work the heel of your hand towards the ground. Your hand does not have to be flat- everyone has different mobility in the wrists, but with continued practice the mobility will increase.
Repeat with the other hand. Once both hands are in place, draw your chin down towards your chest. Spend ten breaths flipping the wrists slowly back and forth.
Stage 2: Mobilize Your Spine
This posture is the foundation to the ones that follow, which will help you mobilize your spine and encourage the movement of synovial fluid.
Place your palms on the floor in front of you and spread your fingers. Stack your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Engage your core by pulling your belly button up and in.
Thread the Needle
This posture encourages deeper breathing, it warms and strengthens the muscles along your spine. The twist massages and compresses your internal organs which supports blood flow and organ detoxification.
Take a full breath in. With your exhale, thread your left arm under your body and over to the right side of your mat. As you twist, rest your left arm and part of your left shoulder on your mat. (Your left ear and cheek will also rest on the mat). Keep your right hand on the mat as a stabilizer.
Once in position, twist from your middle spine. On your inhale, envision space and as you exhale twist a little deeper. Take six breaths on each side.
Return back to Tabletop and Repeat with your opposite arm. After stretching both sides return to Table Top.
Cat + Cow Pose
This move stimulates your organs including your gastrointestinal tract. It strengthens the spine and core. It also increases spinal mobility by waking up the synovial fluid in the spine and lubricating the joints in the vertebrae which become stagnant after long hours of sitting.
From Table Top (keeping shoulders over wrists and hips over knees) inhale, and press down through your palms. Broaden through your chest and collarbones, as you drop your belly and lift your tailbone up towards the ceiling. Stretch through the front of your throat as you draw your chin upwards (careful not to crunch the neck here, use just enough lift to stretch your throat).
Take five breaths in this position before flowing to the Cat Pose.
From Cow Pose (keeping shoulders over wrists and hips over knees) exhale, and press through your palms as you round your back and draw your tailbone downward. Engage your core by pulling your belly button up and in. Draw your chin towards your chest.
Take five breaths in this position before flowing back to Cow Pose. Alternate the two postures for five to ten rounds before returning to a neutral spine.
Stage 3: Open Your Upper Body
Upper Body Backbend
This posture opens up the front of your body with a gentle back bend. Often times we slump forward over our computer, but this posture opens up the upper area of the spine and stretches muscles in the throat, chest and shoulders that are often overworked or neglected due to poor posture.
Extend your legs long out in front of you and relax your feet and legs.
Place a block between your shoulder blades and slowly begin to recline backwards. Rest the back of your head on the mat. Relax your arms at your sides. Relax your chest, throat, jaw and forehead.
Take ten breaths in this posture.
To transition out of the pose, gently tuck your chin into your chest, roll up to seated and remove the block. Then come to lie on your back. Take ten breaths.
Check out Free People’s blog, BLDG 25, for more mind, body and yoga inspo!