Chair yoga: how to help your physical health at work
Chair yoga is an effective way to help your physical health at work. You’ve probably felt the effects of spending a long period of time at your desk; strained neck, sore shoulders and back, stiff spine. Sitting for hours a day puts a lot of strain on your body causing imbalances in your spinal structure, disc damage, and a stiffened back.
Alongside the aches and pains, there is a significant amount of research addressing the long-term health effects associated with desk-based work; high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes, impacted blood flow and a higher stress level.
It all sounds a bit doom and gloom, but there are ways to combat these negative effects. We did put together a blog about being healthy in the workplace, but we wanted to dig deeper into a technique that you can implement right away.
Before we begin
William J. Broad, a lead science writer for The New York Times and an avid Yoga practitioner, has examined years of history and research to unpick claims outlined on the health and fitness benefits of daily Yoga practice. In his book ‘The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards’ Broad lays out the research to understand what actually works and what is myth – well worth a read.
Your desk posture is the first thing to consider when addressing your physical health at work. Everything from using a mouse too often, to incorrect height of chair/tables and distance from your computer screen, is considered bad posture. For a little guidance, Fit for work has an excellent guide on the ideal desk set up.
Before you attempt any of the below exercises, consult a licensed health practitioner. Although the exercises are simple and performed on a chair, you need to be sure that you are at an adequate level of health and fitness to prevent injury.
Here at Cashflow Manager, we are lucky to have Nidhi Mayur, a Team Leader in our Customer Engagement department, who is a licensed Yoga instructor and has put together a few easy exercises you can try.
Let’s get started.
Performing simple Yoga exercises on your chair is extremely beneficial for the mind and body. Stretching your arms and legs every few hours in the office will alleviate stiffness and pain. Time is precious when you’re at work, so instead of walking for longer periods, make sure that you take a few short walking breaks. This will improve blood circulation in the body. A regular 5 min stroll for every hour you sit, helps to get the circulation flowing.
Chair Yoga for the Back
Seated Spinal twist:
This exercise tones and stretches the spinal muscles, relieves stiffness in the neck and shoulders, relieves arthritis in the lower back, tones the abdominal muscles, improves digestion and relieves rheumatism in the knees. This posture also aids in digestion, stimulates the pancreas and insulin secretion thus helping with diabetic disorders. It is also good for relieving stress.
- Find a chair with a hollow back to it. Sit sideways into it pressing your left hip into the back.
- Align the feet as well as the knees. Keep your back straight up.
- On the inhale lift up through the spine towards the ceiling.
- As you turn to face the chair back, grab hold of the chair back with the right hand as you press the palm of the left hand against the other side.
- Again, inhale as you lengthen the spine and on the exhale twist to the left. Repeat on the other side.
Urdhava Hastasana or raised hand pose:
This pose improves posture and provides a full body stretch to alleviate stiffness in the back.
- Inhale to bring your arms out to the sides and up toward the ceiling.
- Keep your arms parallel and palms facing each other.
- Straighten your arms take your gaze up toward your thumbs.
- Keep your thigh muscles strongly engaged for 30 seconds.
- Lower your arms to release the pose.
Chair Yoga for the Shoulders
Get rid of all shoulder aches with this move.
- Stretch your arms out to each side.
- Next, bring one arm under the other in front of you at shoulder height.
- While bending your arms at the elbows, twist your arms so your palms meet each other.
- Hold for five breaths, then unwind and repeat with the opposite arm on top.
Relieves neck and shoulder stiffness and pain
- Sit on front edge of chair, bring hands to shoulders and circle your arms up, back and down, using your breath as a guide. Inhale when you bring your arms forward and exhale when you take them back while making a circle.
- Return to centre and repeat the circle again.
Chair Yoga for the Hips/Legs
The hip area is also a major stress spot. The pigeon pose opens up the hip joint, reduces stress, trauma and anxiety.
- Sit up straight, bend your right knee and place your right ankle over your left knee.
- Stretch and lean forward.
- Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Improves circulation in the legs and relieves knee pain
- While your chair is scooted back from your desk, lift one leg up.
- Pull your heels to bring your toes towards your face.
- Squeeze your thighs.
- Keep your knee locked to feel the stretch throughout leg.
- Hold the position with one leg and then repeat with the other leg.
Chair Yoga for Stress and Posture Correction
Increases spine flexibility and reduces stress and anxiety.
- Sit on the edge of a chair with your back straight and stretched.
- Take both hands back and hold the sides of the chair.
- Inhale and stretch your neck up and backwards.
- Hold the posture for a few seconds and then slowly exhale and relax your back and head.
- Repeat the stretch for a few times.
These easy exercises are part of a full circle approach to keeping healthy at work. Try them everyday alongside short walks and breaks from your everyday work routine.
Try for free. No obligations.
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