They say sitting in chairs could be the new smoking; in 20 years’ time we will ask ourselves, why did we ever do that? It shortens our iliopsoas muscles, condenses our lower back and doesn’t help digestion much either. The best way to combat the ill effects of sitting down all day is not to. But for those of us chained to our desks there are a few clever ways to keep our bodies limber and to get more energy for all that brain activity.
The biggest problem with being a desk-wallah is the shoulder slouch, which can lead to greater tension issues unless we change the habit. This three-part exercise can help. (Note, if you are sitting at a desk with a monitor, first push your chair back a little to save yourself from hitting it with your head!)
1. Sit back in your chair and hold on to the seat. Take your gaze out in front of you – a soft and gentle gaze, relax your eyes (imagine a horizon – the mountains or the sea) Slowly take your gaze up the wall, following the wall all the way to where it meets the ceiling. If this is enough or you have a history of neck problems stay here, or if that feels easy follow along the ceiling until you find a place at the top end of comfortable. Close your eyes and breathe deeply into the front part of your body. Feel it opening up from your belly button to your throat and jaw. Let your jaw be soft and release your shoulders. When you are ready open your eyes and track back down until your gaze is where you started. Notice how open the front of your body feels.
2. Inhale, gently raise your arms out on either side of you and up over your head until your fingertips find each other, in a prayer position. On the out breath, move your hands down to behind your head and open the palms of the hands so that you cradle the back of your head with your hands, letting the head gently drop back into your hands. This will open up your throat and your elbows. Take a few slow, deep breaths.
3. On an in breath, brush the back of the head with the hands as you bring your hands back up to prayer position over your head. Look up at your hands and on the out breath lean forward as you bring your hands down in a swoop like bird wings, to clasp behind your back (if you have a back to your chair it needs to be behind that too!) Breathe in and gently lift the arms away from you and open your shoulders. Breathe out and release.
Let yourself notice any changes. Yoga isn’t just about the movements or postures, but about bringing more awareness to the way you move, breathe and live. So notice what you notice and then let go of any judgement around it. Allow yourself to be this day as you are, the best you in this moment.
Want more Chair Yoga inspiration? Visit SOUL Business Revolution at www.soulcentre.co.nz