“If you feel burnout settling in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself
Rejuvenate | Self Care Anywhere with Chair Yoga
Sitting in a Chair…
…at a desk all day is not what nature intended, however, it is a posture we’ve come to accept in the workplace. Even so, self-care is vitally important, even when you are on the clock. It is not always easy to remember that our eyes need a break from the glare of the computer screen. Thankfully, we can rely on our stomachs for that hunger cramp or loud growl, reminding us to take that overdue lunch break, yet when it comes to our bodies, we tend to ignore those aches and pains that our backs and necks warn us with. Most of us just pop a few pain killers and keep right on typing.
We can refuel our minds with some quick nutrition, but our bodies require a less obvious solution. Achy joints and tight muscles may poke us to take a break, but with deadlines and meetings and teams calls to make, who has the time? We’re just swamped, so it’s easy to forget to take a moment to pause from the fast-paced action of our everyday work life and recalibrate, rejuvenate, and just breathe.
So how do we rectify this while sitting at our busy cubicle chair? Two words: CHAIR YOGA.
Now, before you dismiss this quick practice as too bohemian or just plain silly, remember this: Yoga is about calming the mind through breath. It’s about a mindfulness to being present in this moment you’re taking for yourself, to simply inhale and exhale through your nose, and to let your mind and body relax. Allowing yourself just 5 minutes or less to practice some simple chair yoga stretches can reset your mind, body, and emotional well-being. And that’s not just good for you, but for your colleagues and employers as well. And the best part is, you don’t even have to leave your desk!
So, take the next few minutes to prime yourself before you begin. Have water handy, sit up nice and straight and tall in your chair. Separate and plant your feet evenly and firmly on the ground. Place your hands face down on your lap. Close your eyes at first, just to focus on your breath. Inhale through the nose for 6 counts and then exhale out the nose for 6 counts. Practice this a few more times until you are ever present to the sound of the air traveling through your nasal cavity, and throat. For the next few minutes, continue these long breaths through the nose only.
Neck & Shoulder Rolls:
· Sit up nice and straight and tall in your chair
· Separate and plant your feet flat on the ground
· Place your hands face down in your lap
· Take a few slow shoulder rolls
· Tilt your head slowly side to side, ear towards the shoulder, slowly and gently
· Next, slowly begin head circles, be sure to alternate and do both directions
· Take a few more shoulder rolls while continuing those long inhales and exhales
Supine twist: Cross your left leg over your right leg
· Grab the right side of your chair and twist to the right while keeping your seat evenly planted
· Gently look behind you, over your right shoulder, twisting to your fullest comfort
· Switch legs and repeat this posture on the other side
Four Square Pose: Switch legs again, place your left ankle on top of your right knee
· Gently press your palm down onto the top knee, giving the outside hip and thigh a good stretch
· Switch legs and stretch the opposite side
· For a deeper stretch, gently bend over so your chest is resting on your thighs
(This pressing stretch will feel amazing but can be intense, so just be sure to keep deeply inhaling and exhaling through any tension, stay present to listening to the air traveling inside your head, and exhale away the tension. Go at your own pace!)
Lower Back Stretches:
· Place your legs farther apart and slowly bend over so your torso is resting on your thighs
· Clasp your elbows (your dangling body weight will do all the work)
· Relax and hang your neck neutral, gazing behind you
· Smile, slowly inhaling safely back up to seated position (watch your head coming back up)
· Inhale both arms up and over head
· Grab your chair for balance with right hand while stretching your left arm up and over to the right
· Inhale and exhale as you hold this stretch
· Inhale up and over to switch and repeat on the opposite side
· Don’t forget to smile! Holding a light, gentle grin makes a huge difference in your energy
· Inhale, bring your arms up and over head
· Seal your palms together
· Exhale, bring your arms down to your heart center
· Sit up nice and tall, in your seat, swing right arm under left, binding arms tightly together in a pretzel twist
· Palms are pressed together as you lightly gaze through your hands in front of you
· Unwind the arms and rotate in the opposite direction, swinging left arm under your right
· Inhale, lift your arms overhead again, interlace and bind fingers but extend your pointer fingers
· Lean over to one side very slowly, one direction at a time, feeling a nice side stretch
Stomp and march out your feet – take a moment to find the gratitude and set an intention for the rest of your day. Smile and breathe.
Take these postures slowly and always go at your own pace. Pay attention and back off if you feel any stress or strain. Consult with your GP before embarking on any new physical activities.
Brooke Wilkes is a Registered Yoga Teacher.