The workplace can be a difficult place to relax but there are a number of yoga postures and stretches that can help you relieve tension and revive your energy.
One of the main causes for back pain is poor posture and a lack of movement. The lower spine tends to hunch forward putting significant pressure on the inside of the vertebrae. Eventually this could force the discs in your spine to shift, or bulge, placing pressure against the spinal cord.
Yoga’s main focus is to maintain proper body alignment and increase mobility. Incorporating some simple yoga stretches into your day will keep your muscles relaxed and energetic. The following poses can easily be practiced anywhere:
Hamstring and Lower Back Stretches
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana): Stand up straight with your hands on your hips and feet hip distance apart. Take a deep breath. As you exhale fold forward from the hips with a straight back. Lengthen through your spine keeping your head and neck aligned. Bend as far as it feels comfortable and either hold your ankles, or if this is not possible, grab your elbows allowing your arms to hang.
Each time you inhale lift your back slightly, lengthening your spine and stretching further from your hips. Drop down on the exhale. Repeat several times.
This counteracts the compression of the spine allowing it to realign, as well as relieving tension from your hamstring muscles.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Probably the most common pose in yoga, Down Dog is typically a resting pose and part of a traditional sun salutation sequence. Yet on its own it can build strength and help alleviate pain.
To begin, come to the floor on your hands and knees. Place your hands, fingers wide, just in front of your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips, with your toes curled under.
Take a deep breath and as you exhale, lift your knees off the floor and push back from your arms. It is important to keep your back straight and your shoulder blades down against your back (do not shrug). Straighten your knees, working your heels towards the floor and your thighs and pelvis towards the wall behind you. Hold for at least five breaths or until you are ready to come out of it.
Twists and Hip Openers
High Lunge: Starting in Uttanasana, bend your knees placing your hands on the floor and stepping your left foot back until your front knee forms a right angle.
Try to maintain a straight back with your head up and allow your groin to sink towards the floor opening your hips. Squeeze your inner thighs together to help maintain balance and keep both hips facing forward with a straight spine. If you want to enhance the challenge, raise your arms above your head and breath deeply for five seconds. Do not hesitate to keep your hands on the floor on either side of your front leg if comfortable.
Mental stress translates into physical tension mostly affecting your hip flexors and hamstrings. Therefore hip opening exercises are key to feel relaxed in the office.
Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana): Sitting on the floor, bend one leg in front of your body and stack the other on top of it so that each foot is in line with the opposite knee. If this is too difficult, sit with your legs crossed. Stretch your arms above your head lengthening the side body. As you exhale, twist to the right from your waist, pressing your left hand against the outside of your right knee and your right hand on the ground directly behind your butt.
With each inhale, lengthen your body, and with your exhale, twist deeper. Hold this for five breaths. Return to the center, repeat on the other side.
This stretch will work as a hip opener and torso twist — which works to ring out the toxins in your body.