A popular resolution heading into the new year is to be “less stressed” in the workplace (lets face it- it’s hard not to be at times- especially after the holiday season!) So I’ve reached out to Jennifer Toste, founder and instructor at Love Life Yoga studio located in Woodbridge, ON, and asked her to provide us with some yoga poses and relaxation techniques that will help us keep our cool under pressure and that can be done in the comfort of our own offices/workplaces.
She was kind enough to provide us with this:
“The holidays have come to an end, and despite the happiness and joyful times we are able to experience, the holidays can sometimes have the effect of leaving us even more stressed on top of the daily stress we were experiencing up until those longed-for days off! As you return to your office, make a promise to yourself this new year: commit to incorporating 5 simple yoga poses into your work day that are easy to do, right at your desk, and whose benefits you surely will reap daily. Be sure that whenever you practice any yoga pose, you take your time, listen for any pain (it’s a warning!), and breathe deeply through each pose. Remember this is supposed to alleviate tension and stress, not add to it!
Begin with a gentle Neck/Head Tilt:
Sit up nice and tall in your chair at your desk or standing. Simply inhale through your nose and let your right ear fall towards your right shoulder, without any forcing, take two or three more inhales and exhales, feeling tension release through the side, tilt your head forward and towards your right arm pit and take two more breaths, helping to stretch the front of your neck. Gently roll your head back up and take a breath with your head facing straight, then repeat on the left side.
Shoulder Stretch and Forward Bend
Standing tall with room in front of you, draw your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers. Keep your feet hip distance or wider apart and your knees softly bent. Inhale and lift your chin, feeling your spine grow long and then gently roll forward allowing your heart to come towards your thighs and your nose to face your knees. If your shoulders are very tight, you might just leave them on the low back, or move the hands to your hips, if you want to experience a stronger stretch through the shoulders, then allow the arms(while hands still interlaced) to come off the back and fall towards your head. Breath here and then gently roll up, while the feet remain firmly planted to the ground.
To bring relief and release of tension to the spine, bring in the practice of a seated twist, even a few times a day can really revive the spine! Sitting on your desk chair, with knees hip distance and feet firmly planted on the floor, feeling a sturdy connection of the buttocks to the seat, gently inhale and feel yourself sit up very straight, then gently turn towards the right, bringing your left hand to reach for the right knee, while the right hand can rest by your right hip or even hold the back of the chair. With every inhale the spine feels like it is lengthening, and on each exhale the twist may feel like it can be deepened. Really remain calm and breathe deeply, when you are ready to release, exhale and turn back to center, take a moment or two, then repeat to the left.
Half Downward Dog
Standing about arms length from your desk, place your feet hip distance apart. Keeping a gentle bend in the knees, inhale and feel your spine grow taller and lift your arms up, palms facing each other, gently begin to come forward, keep your core engaged, and let the hands come to rest on the desk, putting your body in a L-shape. Allow your heart to relax towards the floor and your chin to come towards your chest, and feel as though you are lifting your hips. Ensuring your breath remains steady, continue to breathe deeply and feel your spine getting longer, relieving compression through the spine and softly stretching out the backs of the legs. When you are ready, press your feet firmly into the ground and roll up slowly.
Last but not least, a breathing exercise, an essential part of the practice of yoga, and a wonderful way to calm the mind, and bring clarity and peace throughout a busy work day:
Sitting comfortably in your desk chair, hands resting on your thighs, close your eyes, and bring your focus to the sound of the inhale, as you breath in, count to 3 (this can become 4 or 5 depending on what you feel is comfortable or after some practice), hold your breath for 3 seconds, and then slowly and gently exhale for 3 seconds, and hold your breath for 3 seconds. Do this 3 to 5 times, keeping your attention on your inhale and exhale, and this will help to bring the mind into focus, and allow a few moments of quiet to be had.
May this easy and simple sequence of poses help to bring you relief and relaxation as you work hard day in and day out, and may your new year be blessed with focus, good energy, good health, and joy.”