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Office Yoga: Yoga to beat the ill-effects of a Desk Job

If your job requires you to be seated for long hours every day - day after day – with little or no physical activity, then you may be at the risk of having a sedentary lifestyle.

According to WHO 60% to 85% of global population does not engage in enough physical activity. The number, of course, must have risen in these unprecedented times. A research states that sitting all the time has become a habit –an addiction, and its effects are as harmful as smoking. Sitting all day, whether a necessity [9 to 5 desk jobs] or a habit, is slowly killing us. Obesity, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, dementia, musculoskeletal degeneration, poor circulation are some of the harmful effects of Sedentary Lifestyle.

Often we hear people complaining of back aches, stiff joints and tight muscles; however, it must be noted that majority of back aches and spinal issues are a result of muscular insufficiency & inadequate flexibility of muscles and tendons due to lack of physical activity.

Yoga not only helps to counteract some of the harmful effects of sitting all day but also helps to prevent muscular degeneration/deterioration by strengthening the musculoskeletal system. While a program of Yogasanas and other yogic practices aimed at increasing the functional capacity of the weak muscles is ideal, bringing some movement to your otherwise sedentary desk job is best way to beat the ill-effects of sitting all day.

Here are some asanas/postures to help you steer clear from the ramifications of your desk job: 1.Lateral Neck Stretches

To start with, make sure you’re sitting upright. Now, place your right hand on the left temple (located on the side of the head behind the eyes), and slowly drop your head, thus bringing the right ear close to the right shoulder. Pause and take 5 deep breaths before returning to the starting position. Now, repeat the same process with your left hand.

Do 5 reps on each side for best results.

Benefit – Lateral neck stretches help in the loosening up of the posterior neck muscles, and reduce any tightness you might experience in the region as a result of constantly looking at your computer. 2.Wrist Movement

Begin by stretching out your right arm at the shoulder level, with your palm pushed out and fingers pointing toward the sky. Take 3 deep breaths and relax the stretch. Next, bend your hand forward from the wrist such that your fingers are now pointing down and assert a gentle pull. Take 3 deep breaths and relax the stretch. Now, repeat the same process with your left hand. Remember to keep your arm straight throughout the stretch. Also, make sure that your fingers or knuckles are not bent during the practice.

Do 5 reps with each hand for best results.

Benefit – Consistent wrist movement helps strengthen deltoids and triceps, while also ensuring an enhanced range of movement of the elbow and shoulder. 3.Seated Cat & Cow

For this technique, you must begin by sitting in the middle part of the chair or stool, so that you have ample room to move. Make sure your legs are at a 90-degree angle, and that your feet are flat on the floor. Start by sitting upright, then as you exhale, pull in your lower abdomen, curl and tuck your chin into your chest. The idea is to create a ‘C’ shape with your spine. Next, as you inhale, bring your belly forward and arch your back. If you find it comfortable, look up toward the ceiling. You can either keep your arms straight or on your waist.

Repeat 5-7 times based on your level of comfort.

Benefit – Seated Cat & Cow helps reduce the tension in the neck, shoulder and back. It also strengthens the back and ensures that the spine remains flexible. 4.Foot Extension

Begin by extending your right leg outward. Then, point your toes such that they are away from you and feel the stretch. Next, flex your foot such that your toes are now pointing toward you, and again feel the stretch.

Repeat the process 10 times. Do the same with your left leg.

Benefit – Foot Extension exercises will help keep your feet muscles active and will help avoid any muscle soreness that may be caused as a result of non-activity for long periods of time. 5.Ankle Rotation

Start by extending your right leg out. Now, rotate your foot at the ankle in a clockwise direction. When you do so, remember to keep the foot slightly stretched and your toes straight.

Do 10 reps clockwise and 10 anti-clockwise. Do the same with your left leg.

Benefit – Ankle Rotation helps to reduce any stress on the foot and legs. They also help avoid pains in the knees, back and neck. 6.Palming

Sit upright and close your eyes. Rub your palms together, such that they become warm. Now, place the warm palm over your closed eyelids and feel the warmth being transferred to your eyes. Once the warmth seems to have gone, rub your palms together again, while your eyes are still shut and place them on your eyes again. Repeat this process at least three times.

Remember not to place your fingers on your eyelids, only your palms.

Benefit – Palming relaxes as well as revitalizes the eye muscles.


Some handy tips:

1) Walk!

Walk to your colleagues instead of calling/texting them. Walk to refill the water bottle.

2) Take a ‘stretch break’ as often as you can.

3) Make sure that the top of your computer screen is at eye level, or slightly below your eye level.

4) DO NOT place your legs up on your desk, instead, place them on a low stool to maintain adequate blood supply.

Practicing these postures and tips will bring about mobility, flexibility and stability to the otherwise stiff muscles and help you stay active, energized and efficient, even when a large part of your job involves sitting down for hours at stretch!

Stay connected to Nth Sense for my next Blog on Yoga to relieveSciaticaPain.

Stay tuned to Nth Sense for more Yogic tips and techniques Author: Yoga teacher Anjali Seernani. 

(Aum Shanti Yoga).


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