With a huge portion of us spending at least eight hours a day slumped in an office chair, it’s not surprising that many find it difficult to be active and feel increasingly tense. Especially when working in an office, it’s incredibly important that you retain good posture to prevent spinal tension which may lead to neck, shoulder and lower back pain. Although, even if you have relatively good posture and attend yoga classes regularly, you may still find your body tense, stressed and your back overworked.
It may sound unusual, however, practicing different yoga poses in the office can help to reduce both the physical and mental effects of an office job, making you healthier, happier and, therefore, more motivated and productive, which can only be a good thing for the big guns upstairs. Better still, with employee well-being an increasingly hot topic, many offices now encourage yoga in the workplace and even offer workplace yoga classes, exercise classes, and other activities to boost staff morale.
Employers have found that by offers a rich variety of classes in the workplace, employees become more productive and take much less sick leave, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
As you may know, adding yoga to your daily or weekly routine has numerous benefits, including helping to manage your weight, relieve stress and tension and encourage mindfulness, improve both physical and mental flexibility and reduce symptoms of anxiety, especially in stressful situations.
The different ways yoga can help both you and your employer in the workplace include:
According to the American Institute of Stress, stress costs the US economy more than $300 billion every year. As well as causing general unhappiness and, sometimes, physical illness, stress creates an unpleasant work environment. By doing yoga at work, you can relieve stress, relax, and focus better.
It is no surprise that those that are less stressed are happier, and when you are happy, you are more motivated and willing to work, which increases productivity. Without stress, it’s likely you won’t dread the idea of going to work and will feel healthier all-around which reduces illness and exhaustion.
According to research, yoga helps you to process stress better which means, by practicing yoga, employees are better equipped mentally to deal with stressful situations such as presentations.
Improves Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem at some point during their lifetime. That’s huge. However, by practicing yoga, you can help to reduce feelings of depression. Yoga also releases chemicals in the brain which lift your mood.
Despite work being just that, it’s important you take the time to socialize with your colleagues, too. A fantastic way to socialize is by attending yoga classes in the workplace, giving you time out. Better still, group activities such as yoga improve communication which can only be a good thing for management.
If your employer doesn’t offer workplace yoga classes and you’re not able to find a suitable yoga class during your lunch or after work, there are a handful of easy yoga poses you do at your desk.
Of course, it’s unlikely you’re going to roll your yoga mat out in the office and get on the floor, which is why our suggested yoga poses for the office are all relatively subtle and won’t attract attention.
Our top six yoga poses to try at work are:
Seated Crescent Moon
Ideal if you hunch excessively at your desk, the Seated Crescent Moon Yoga pose helps you to stretch your spine and, therefore, relieve tension in your back while controlling your breathing and clearing your head. All you need to do is lift your arms above your head and stretch your fingers out. To complete the pose, lean to one side and hold it for a few seconds, breathing in and out naturally, and then repeat the process by leaning to the other side. This pose will help to loosen your back and hands.
Desk Shoulder Opener
When you’re sitting at a desk all day, it’s not only your back that’s a concern. Your shoulders will be affected, too. The Desk Shoulder Opener helps to realign your shoulders which, again, will relieve stress on your back and upper body. Although, this pose is a little more noticeable. To complete the Desk Shoulder Opener, move your chair out of the way and stand around a meter from your desk, but not so far away that you can’t touch the edge of the desk. Reach out and place your hands on the edge of your desk, bend down to 90-degrees, put your head between your arms and stretch your shoulders.
Wrist & Finger Stretch
If you spend a chunk of your day typing, you may experience tension in your fingers, hands, and wrists which can be uncomfortable. The key to relieving stress in your hands is to get your blood pumping, which you can do with a Wrist & Finger Stretch every few hours. Firstly, stretch your arms above your head or to your side and move them in a circular motion, in and out with your wrists. Next, stretch your fingers out and wiggle them before closing your hands into fists. You should do this up to ten times to relieve tension. To stretch your wrists further, bend them upwards at a 90-degree angle.
If you tend to cross your legs at your desk, you can practice the Pigeon Pose to help rebalance your lower back and hips. First, sit up in your chair with both feet flat on the floor and then cross your right leg over your left leg at 90-degrees while stretching your foot outwards. Throughout, make sure you distribute your weight evenly and stay upright, rather than tilting to one side. Your right thigh will feel stretched, too. Hold for five breaths, change legs and repeat the process to feel the most benefit.
Sit & Stand Chair
If you suffer from numb or tense legs after sitting down for an extended period, you can practice the Sit & Stand Chair yoga position to improve blood flow and stretch your muscles. The Sit & Stand Chair also helps to relieve tension on your upper back and neck, both of which can be a problem when sat at a desk all day. To begin, sit upright with your feet flat on the floor, so your legs are at a 90-degree angle. Then, push your heels to the floor without moving your feet and, pushing on the arms of your chair with your hands, stand up very slowly before sitting down. It’s important you distribute your weight evenly for balance. Breathing steadily, repeat the process at least five times to feel the benefit.
Another favorite for stretching both your back and legs, specifically your hamstrings, at once, the Desk Plank is an effective way to relieve stress and muscle tension. To begin, stand up and place your hands a shoulder’s width apart on the edge of your desk and then take a step back, leaning diagonally and straight with your hands on the desk. You will feel the stretch in your spine and hamstrings. Hold the pose for at least ten seconds, breathing steadily. If you don’t feel the benefit, stretch more.
If you haven’t previously tried yoga in the office, the different workplace exercises may feel odd; however, rest assured that taking the time to practice yoga in the office will help to improve both your physical and mental health. Yoga will help you to feel more motivated and, therefore, be productive.