Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 3:55am by Site Administrator
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and has enjoyed growing mainstream acceptance in Western society in the past few years, even working its way into the corporate environment. Businesses are increasingly adding free or low cost yoga classes as a productivity booster and perk for employees. While it might seem strange, studies done by the National Institutes of Health have found that yoga and meditation enhance the qualities that are most desired in employees, like an increase in brain waves, enhanced intuition, and better concentration, in addition to the alleviation of common aches and pains. With results like that, it’s hard to find a reason not to add a little yoga into your workday. Here are 10 basic moves to get you started.
- Mountain Pose: This pose seems simple, but if done properly it should engage your whole body. Start by standing with feet together, hands at your sides, eyes facing forward. Press your heels into the floor and spread your toes while tilting your pelvis slightly forward. Then, raise your chest up and out, but no so much that you look as though you’re standing at attention for a drill sergeant. Lengthen your neck by stretching the base of your skull towards the ceiling while stretching the pinkies on your hand downward. Push your feet into the floor and raise your legs off of the floor. Hold this posture while you inhale and let go on the exhale. On your next breath, raise your arms over your head and hold for the next several breaths. Repeat this several times. This move should help alleviate some distracting lower back pain by making you more aware of your posture, as well as improving balance and self-awareness.
- Boat: Give your abdominal muscles a good stretch with this pose. Start this pose by lying on your stomach with your legs together and arms at your sides. Take a breath and exhale while you press your hipbones and pelvis into the floor, lifting your arms and legs several inches off of the floor. Draw your spine toward the floor and imagine your chest pressing outward. Tuck in your chin slightly and extend your torso and legs away from each other. Hold this pose for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat at your discretion.
- Table Balance: Work on your balance and concentration with this pose. Start on all fours with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Look downward and make sure to keep your navel drawn into your spine. Straighten and lift your left leg so that it’s in line with your hips. Get your balance and extend your left arm out so that it’s even with your shoulders. Hold this for 3-10 breaths, then slowly lower your arm and leg. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Downward Facing Dog: This posture is great for strengthening wrists, which is helpful for avoiding injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome that can make working painful or even impossible. It can also help reduce lower back pain. You begin this posture by getting on your hands and knees, making sure that your legs are hip width apart and arms are shoulder width apart. Inhale and curl your toes under as you would if you were standing on your toes. Exhale and straighten your legs while pushing up with your arms, lengthening your spine while keeping your feet flat on the floor. If it hurts too much to do this, it’s acceptable to bend your knees a little or allow your heels to lift off the floor. Relax back onto your hands and knees after a few breaths and repeat.
- Tree Pose: Get a leg up, literally, on improving your balance and mental concentration with the tree pose. Begin by standing straight and tall with your feet together. Pick up your right foot and balance on your left, placing your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. Once you have your balance, raise your arms above your head so that your palms meet, keeping your shoulders down. Hold this for as long as it’s comfortable, or about 30 seconds. Relax, then repeat on the other side.
- Wide Legged Forward Bend: Sitting all day without a break can be hard on the body and can lower energy levels. Help counteract the effects of your desk chair with this pose. Start with your legs twice shoulder width apart with feet forward. Place your hands on your hips and slowly bend at the waist while maintaining a straight back. Place the palms of your hands, or forearms if you’re flexible, on the floor and hold the pose. Slowly unfold out of your pose and return to your original stance.
- Bridge Pose: Increase your overall flexibility, strengthen your lower back, and open up your chest with this move. It can also help alleviate those pesky energy sucking tension headaches by helping you relax. You begin this move by lying on the floor with your knees bent and your hands at your side. Your feet should be 6 inches apart and pulled in close to your backside. Begin by slowly raising and lowering your tailbone, then slowly take it up one vertebrae at a time until your entire spine is arched upward. Make sure to push firmly into the floor with your feet as you hold this position and breathe deeply. Hold for a few breaths, release, and repeat.
- Warrior Pose: The warrior pose sounds tough, perhaps because it is intended to be a confidence builder. It also can help improve your balance and concentration, making it easier to keep your mind on your work. This pose starts in the mountain pose with your feet together and your hands at your side. Then, step your feet 4-5 feet apart. Begin by turning your right foot 45 degrees to the left and turning your left foot 90 degrees to the left so that it’s pointing straight out to the side. Slowly bend your left knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor while raising your arms over your head. Slowly lower your arms until your left arm is pointing straight ahead and your right arm is pointing straight back. Hold this position while concentrating on a point ahead of you for 5-6 breaths, relax, then reverse the pose.
- The Triangle: Improve your balance and concentration by trying out the triangle pose. Begin by spreading your feet 3-4 feet apart and keeping them parallel. Turn your left foot 90 degrees to the left and your right foot 45 degrees inward. Next, take a deep breath while raising your arms straight out from your sides. Then exhale and turn your head to the left so that you’re looking down your arm to your fingers. Reach as far out to the left as you can and once you’ve reached your limit, rotate your arms down so that your left arm rests on your calf and your right arm is pointed straight up. Hold this for a few breaths, straighten up and lower your arms to the side, bringing your feet together. Repeat on the other side.
- The Corpse: This pose requires of you just what it sounds like: playing dead. This level of relaxation will helps to refresh your body helping you relieve on the job stress and anxiety. Make sure not to fall asleep while doing this one! Begin by lying on your back with your arms at your side and palms facing upward. Then close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths, allowing your body to completely relax. If you’re having trouble, start with a specific body part and imagine your muscles and skin in that part relaxing. Do this bit by bit until your whole body is relaxed.
You can start practicing these positions before you leave for work in the morning, or try out these simple moves you can do right from your desk during a break. And remember, just like with any kind of exercise, if you have health problems, recent surgeries, or any injuries consult with your physician before attempting any of these moves.
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