When science, spirituality & real life collide
Yoga Every Damn Day! Get your daily yoga fix from your work station
Many people are unaware of the benefits of yoga or struggle to fit a regular practice in around their daily lives. At present, whilst enduring the pandemic, more people are working from home & most of us are under an increased amount of pressure; at home & at work. Some people are working from home at make-shift work stations; this can lead to tight muscles, poor posture. Many people are working longer hours; “work-life” slowly slips into “home-life” with less time to “switch off”& relax.
In Western society most of us are over stimulated; we are able to watch several screens at once, we can contact people on the other side of the world at any time using a variety of methods; we literally have the world at our finger tips.
Constant stimulation, long working hours, poor work-life balance & poor posture can lead to a number of physical & mental health conditions.
Incorporating yoga into our daily life can help to relieve stress & tension. In fact, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali teaches us in Sutra 1:2 “Yoga citta vrtti norodhah”; “yoga helps to calm the chatter of the mind”; the aim of yoga is to start to “turn down” the thoughts, pressure & stimulation like “turning down” a radio (or smart phone these days!)
Here I will outline a short yoga practice that you can perform at your desk or workstation:
1. I invite you to start by coming towards the end of your chair, plant your feet onto the earth (remove your shoes & socks if able), sit up onto your sit bones (tilt your tail bone down & pull up out of the lumbar spine). Rest your hands onto your thighs with the palms facing the sky. Close your eyes or soften your gaze. Tilt the chin towards the chest to lengthen into the neck & have the crown of the head parallel with the sky.
2. Notice the thoughts chattering in your mind. Stand back & watch those thoughts for a few moments.
3. Notice how your body is feeling. Scan your body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes noticing any areas of tension or tightness & asking each body part to release & let go.
4. Take your awareness to your breath for a few moments; try to hold your awareness here. This can be difficult at times when our thoughts are particularly noisy. Notice any thoughts that come up & guide your awareness to the breath when you are ready.
Image 1: Sitting at the front of your chair with you feet firmly planted into the earth. Draw up through the crown of the head, shoulders away from the ears. Rest your hands on your thighs with the palms facing the sky.
5. As you exhale, drop your right ear to your right shoulder, inhale back to centre. Alternate side to side in your own time with the breath. This will ease into the sides of the neck & the shoulders. Do at least six to each side. Finish with the left side & bring the head back to centre
6. As you inhale take the arms overhead, as you exhale lower the arms into the side of the body. Repeat at least six times. Let the finger tips reach the end of the movement at the end of the breath. Try to keep your full awareness here.
7. Place the finger tips onto the shoulders & start to circle the shoulders as dynamically as possible; as if you are putting on a cape, then change direction.
8. Rest the hands back onto the thighs. Do some pelvic tilts here. Imagine you have a little ball that you are rolling from the navel to the pubic bone as you exhale & from the pubic bone to navel as you inhale. Repeat at least six times.
9. Bend your right knee out to the side & rest your right ankle onto the left thigh. Apply a little gentle pressure onto the right thigh. You may feel a gentle stretch into the right hip & buttock. Hold for three breaths. Swap legs; bend the left knee & rest the left ankle onto the right thigh. Apply a little gentle pressure to the left thigh.
10. Stretch your right leg out straight & lift the toes. Hinge from the hips & fold the body forwards towards the toes. The arms can reach around the back of the thigh, calf, ankle or earth. Lengthen the breast bone. You will feel a stretch into the back of the right thigh. Hold for at least three breaths & change sides.
11. If possible, hug the knees into the chest & have a little rock here. If it is not possible to hug in the knees wrap your hands around yourself in a “hug” & take a moment here.
Image 2: The amazing Shiv & Chris help me demonstrate the practice above.
12. Rest your hands once more onto your thighs & check you are sitting on to your sit bones with the neck long & shoulders away from the ears.
13. Take a moment to watch the breath once more. Try to do this for a few minutes keeping your full awareness here.
14. Make some small movements – wiggle the fingers, have a shake & come back to the room.