Many of us work in an office and sit the majority of the day. Sitting at work (sedentary lifestyle really) is commonly referred to as a barrier to healthy living, yoga and exercise. I’m turning the tables – let’s take advantage of our offices and do some yoga! These exercises are designed to be done collectively or individually. If you find one you love do it five times a day or whatever suites your needs. With each of these exercises hold for 3-5 breaths and repeat the activity on the opposite side.
Activity 1: Spread ‘Em (Your Palms That Is)
You’ll need a wall with an arms length of space to your side, toward the wall, behind & in front of you.
Step one; place your shoulder up to the wall. Place your hand, palm flat, where your shoulder is and step away from the wall until your arm is straight. If your arm is straight and your palm is flat then continue. If not work, from there.
Step two; now press your palm firmly into the wall and spread your fingers. Keeping everything including the pressure from your palm into the wall, begin to twist your torso away from the wall. Check your palm – is it flat? You can feel sensations up and down the inside of your arm, in your hand and shoulder.
What is this activity doing? It’s opening up your wrists, hands and shoulders. This is a great activity for people who type during the day. If at first you cannot flatten your palm against the wall, work on getting your palm flat with a straight arm.
Activity 2: Jazz Hands & Head On the Wall
For this activity you need a wall you can stand up against (back against the wall) that’s at least 6 inches wider than your shoulders.
Step one; place your hand on the back of your skull (not the top – this is the lower back half of your skull). We’re going to be pressing the Occipital bone, the back of your skull, into the wall. To set up for it, put your back to the wall. Your feet are hip width apart. The back of your skull pressing into the wall. Note: your heals may or may not touch the wall – this depends on your range of motion.
Step two; bend your elbows bringing your hands to a 90 degree angle at your elbows. Draw in your shoulder blades; retract them onto your back. Begin to press the backs of your arms (the triceps section flat against the wall) back into the wall. Spread your finders – jazz hands! Make sure your skull is pressing into the wall as well. Note: make sure you’re not sticking your chest out, everything should be as flat against the wall as possible.
What’s this activity doing? It’s helping you to open your neck. Most of the time we drop our heads forward forcing our little necks to hold up our rather large heads. This activity also aligns the skull and neck. It’s a great way to see how your typical posture for sitting and standing differs from ideal alignment for your head and neck.
Activity 3: Gentle Neck & Shoulder Opener
You’ll need a chair and enough room to fully extend your arms.
Step one; sit up straight with your feet on the floor, ankles below knees with your toes pointing forward. Lift one arm up to shoulder height. Spread the palm – spread those fingers as wide apart as you can.
Step two; turn your wrist so that your thumb points down to the ground. Slowly and gently start to tilt/lower your head to the opposite shoulder (example: if your left arm is extended, lower your head to the right shoulder). Hold for several breaths.
Step three; bring your head up slowly. Repeat on the other side.
What does this activity do? It opens up your neck and shoulders. Have you heard the expression, “pain in the neck”? Feel that way about anyone at work? Well, this could be your ticket for a pain-free neck (at least).
Bottom line, have fun with these activities! Consider doing them with your co-workers or making a game out of them. Do one every hour for 2-3 minutes. The benefits come from doing the work repeatedly and consistently. Find a way that works for you and gets activity into your daily life. Everyday is a new day and your body has a varying level of capability on a given day. So always remember with these activities and any activity it’s important be gentle with your body even if you’ve done yoga everyday for the last 100 years.