With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, most of us are working from home. Due to long sitting hours, work pressure, excessive use of electronics, and stress, it’s starting to take a toll on our physical and mental health.
Whether you’re working from home or in the office, a lot of stress can be put on our necks and backs as we work at our desks. The results can be seen in our poor body posture where your head is forward, shoulders are rounded and back is slumped. In addition, lack of physical activity can leave you lethargic, making it tough to stay motivated and focused throughout the day. That is why it is extremely important to take a moment to pause to de-stress, relax and re-energize.
Movement is essential for a healthy lifestyle and one way to combat the negative effects of sitting for long hours each day is practicing yoga which will help in boosting your health, your mood which can directly effect an increase in productivity, performance, and overall job satisfaction.
The very first thing you can do is take deep breaths. You can start by sitting up straight at your desk, relaxing your shoulders, and taking five big, deep inhales and exhales. To know more about deep breathing don’t forget to check out my 5 breathing techniques to release your stress and feel calm.
The second thing you can start with is stretching your neck and spine which usually gets stiff due to long sitting hours. To make it easy for you I have made a list of 10 yoga poses you can start right away to stretch your back and shoulders. Try these 10 poses, and watch how you and your work shift in a positive direction.
1. Puppy pose
How to do:
- Start out on a mat on your hands and knees. Align your body so that your shoulders are directly above your wrists and your hips are in line with your knees.
- Inhale. Exhale, then move your hands out in front of you a few inches and move your buttocks back close to your heels.
- Now try to touch your chest and your forehead on the mat if possible, without bending your elbows. Breathe here for at least three deep breaths.
- Extended Puppy stretches the spine, shoulders, upper back, and arms, making this pose for releasing the tension around shoulders and upper back.
- The pose can be therapeutic for stress and anxiety, as well as chronic tension and insomnia.
- Puppy pose can help bring a sense of calm back into the body.
2. Wide legged forward pose
How to do:
- Step your feet out wide and parallel your feet.
- Bring your hands to your hips. Inhale, lengthen your spine. Exhale, fold forward from the hips with a flat back(not round back).
- Bring your hands to the mat or cross your arms and hold onto opposite elbows or if comfortable hold your big toes. You can also use blocks to place your hands
- You can bend your knees as much as you need to to reduce the pressure on your lower back.
- Breathe here for at least 3-4 deep breaths.
- stretches and strengthens the inner and outer leg, as well as the ankles (good stretch if you are sitting for too long)
- Stretches the calves, hamstrings, groin and lower back.
- Releases tension in the neck and shoulders.
- Can help to alleviate lower back pain.
- help with headache and fatigue by getting circulation moving to your brain.
3. Standing Forward Bend with Shoulder Opener
How to do:
- Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to stretch your chest.
- Keeping your legs straight, bend at the hips, tucking your chin and bringing your hands over your head.
- Relax the back of your neck, and if the stretch is too intense, release your hands, placing them on the backs of your thighs, and soften your knees. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and slowly roll up.
- Reduces fatigue and anxiety. Relieves headache and insomnia. Opens the shoulders.
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
- Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips.
- Strengthens the thighs and knees.
- Improves digestion.
4. Half standing forward fold
How to do:
- Start with forward bend
- As you inhale, raise your torso and arms. Alternatively, place your hands on your shins, or you could also use blocks.
- keeping your spine flat and aligned through your back and neck (it can help to imagine being pulled forward slightly from your chest). Alternatively
- Pay attention to your knees here and try to microbend to avoid locking them.
- Draw the shoulder blades together and create length through the spine, from the tailbone to the top of the head.
- Hold the pose for 3-4 breaths and release the posture by coming back to forward bend.
- Extends the spine.
- Develops flexibility in the hips and hamstrings.
- Strengthens the back and legs.
- Release the tension from lower back
5. Cow face pose
How to do:
- Begin in a seated position. Bend your left knee and ground down into your mat. Draw your right knee over your left to stack the knees.
- Inhale, lift out of the torso, and lengthen the spine.
- Exhale and draw your left hand behind your back, reaching for the center of the midback.
- Inhale and draw your right hand over your right shoulder to reach behind the neck.
- Exhale and slowly inch the hands together behind your back, hooking the left and right fingers. Work toward binding the palms together. Alternatively, you can use a yoga strap as an arm lengthener.
- Hold this pose for up to 5-10 slow breaths.
- Inhale and release the arms down to the mat alongside the hips. Exhale and uncross the knees. Roll slightly back onto the sacrum and sway the knees from side to side. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Opens the hips
- Stretches shoulders, ankles, thighs, armpits, triceps, chest, and side body.
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
- Increases blood flow.
6. Upward facing dog pose
How to do:
- Begin by lying on your stomach, feet hip-width apart. Stretch your legs back. Tuck your toes for a moment and stretch out through your heels to lengthen the backs of your legs.
- Bend your elbows and place it close to your torso.
- On an inhale, press your palm into the floor and roll the tops of your shoulders back. Then straighten your arms and simultaneously lift your chest up.
- Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Keep your gaze forward.
- Breathe and hold for 1-3 breaths. Release back to the floor or lift into Adho Mukha Svanasana with an exhalation.
- Release the lower back pain
- Strengthen the wrists, arms, and Shoulders
- Improves the posture, if you have rounded back
- Improves Digestion
7. Humble warrior pose
How to do:
- Start with feet wide apart. Turn your left foot out to 90 degree angle, bend the left knee over the left ankle and turn right foot angles out 45 degrees
- Clasp your fingers behind your back
- Inhale and lift your chest
- Exhale and bend forward, bringing your torso to the inside of the left thigh
- Lengthen the back of the neck and crown of the head toward the floor
- Press the heels of your hands together and draw the knuckles toward the ceiling
- Ground the back foot and keep front knee over the ankle
- Guide the left hip back and right hip forward
- Stay for 3-5 breaths and then press through the feet to lift out of the pose and switch sides.
- Stretches the chest, shoulders, neck, belly and groin (psoas).
- Strengthens the shoulders, arms and back muscles.
- Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves and ankles.
- Builds stamina, balance and concentration
- Increases circulation
- Promotes a calm and clear mind
8. Thread the needle pose
How to do:
- Begin on your hands and knees. Release your toes back and allow the tops of your feet to rest on the mat.
- Plant your left palm flat on the floor and as you inhale, lift your right hand pointing up to the ceiling
- On your exhale, begin to slide the right arm underneath your left until your right shoulder and ear touch the mat. Place your palm on the floor and relax your fingers to the mat.
- Allow your head to be heavy and make sure that your ear touches the floor.
- Reach your right fingertips to the left side of the mat and relax your palm down to the mat. Keep your left palm rooted down to the mat with your elbow bending.
- Stay for 4-5 deep breaths.
- To come out of the pose, root down with your left palm and inhale to lift the right side body off the mat. Lift the right fingertips up to the ceiling and open your body back to the right side of the room. Exhale to release back onto hands and knees.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Opens your shoulders, neck, arms, chest and upper back
- Allows for a light twist in the spine
- Releases upper back and shoulder tension
- Promotes a sense of calm and relaxation in the body
- Stretches your thighs and hips
9. Locust pose
How to do:
- Start from from lying down on belly (prone position)
- Keep the legs together and hands in front over head hands shoulder with apart.
- Inhale, raise your hands and legs up as much as you can and look forward. Alternatively, you can interlock your fingers behind your back and then raise your arms.
- Hold this position for 5 to 10 breath and try to calm down the breath.
- Salabhasana is one of the best poses to practice for spine strengthening.
- Strengthens the back, glutes, and leg muscles.
- Stretches the front of the body.
- Opens the chest and shoulders
- Stimulates the abdominal organs.
10. Bow pose
How to do:
- Begin by lying flat on your stomach with your chin on the mat and your hands resting at your sides.
- On an exhalation, bend your knees. Bring your heels as close as you can to your buttocks, keeping your knees hip-distance apart.
- Reach back with both hands and hold onto your outer ankles.
- On an inhalation, lift your heels up toward the ceiling, drawing your thighs up and off the mat. Your head, chest, and upper torso will also lift off the mat. Draw your tailbone down firmly into the floor, while you simultaneously lift your heels and thighs even higher. Lift your chest and press your shoulder blades firmly into your upper back. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Gaze forward and breathe softly. Your breath will become shallow, but do not hold your breath.
- Hold for up to 7-8 breaths.
- Slowly release your legs and feet to the floor. And relax with forehead on the mat.
- Strengthens all major muscles in the back body, stretches entire front body
- Expands the chest, opening the diaphragm and shoulder joints
- Stimulates abdominal organs, improves digestion
- reduce anxiety and fatigue
Add these postures and repeat, to release built-up stress in body. Preventative care is the best care! You can start your regular yoga practice at home by doing my 7 days at-home yoga challenge. Get into the practice of yoga at the ease and comfort of your home.