Many desk workers struggle with neck or back pain, shoulder strain, headaches, repetitive strain injury, or have trouble focusing, even with an ergonomically correct setup at work. Susi Hately Aldous, Yogi, author, kinesiologist, and founder of Functional Synergy, has created a specialized program, Yoga for the Desk Jockey™ for desk workers.
Here, she shares a few very simple techniques for the desk worker (or anyone dealing with stress). These easy, two-minute exercises alleviate pain and reduce tension through easy stretching, breathing, and overall movement of the body.
Finding Calmness in a Sometimes Complex World
By the middle of the day, does your mind feel overworked? Do your shoulders ache or your neck cramp? Or does that familiar feeling of tension enter into the space between your shoulder blades?
If, at that moment, you take time to consciously breathe, stretch or move your body, not only will your body feel better, but your mind will clear, your creativity will rise, and your work output will improve. Better yet, your connections with colleagues, customers, and clients will strengthen.
- Sitting with feet on the ground, breathe.
- Inhale, roll your shoulders to your ears.
- Exhale, pull your shoulder blades together and down your back.
- Repeat 10 times, keeping the jaw, eyes and tongue relaxed.
Flow fact: Moving your body helps unwind the “jumbled” feeling in the head that comes with overwork and stress. You’ll become clearer, calmer, and more creative.
Release Your Hips
The hips, especially in women, can hold a concentrated amount of tension whether you’re sitting for extended periods of time or standing on your feet for hours at a time. “I am really keen on enabling people to find a sense of ease and evenness during workdays, no matter what deadlines or curveballs occur,” says Susi. She suggests doing this hip release exercise to balance any tension held there.
- Stand and hold the wall, the back of your chair, or your desk for support.
- While standing, lift your right ankle onto your left knee.
- Gently bend your left knee. Breathe through your nose.
- Relax your jaw and shoulders, and breathe easily for 5 to 10 breaths.
- You may feel some leg strengthening as well as hip releasing.
- Be sure there is no knee pain. If there is, ease up to a position where you feel no pain.
- Switch sides.
Flow Fact: By releasing your hips you can reduce back pain, improve leg strength, and build pelvic stability.
Twist It Out
The core area of the body may oftentimes feel stress from nervousness or digestive problems that can hit anyone morning or night. “I love this particular twist when I am spending my day working on the computer,” says Susi. “It helps wring out tension in the back, neck, and shoulders.”
- Sit tall, feet firmly planted, sitting bones equally positioned on the chair.
- Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand behind you on your chair seat.
- Inhale, and as you exhale, twist to your left. Be easy – don’t go to your maximum.
- Take two more breaths and then switch direction.
- Be sure you can breathe easy and your jaw is relaxed.
Flow Fact: Nervous tension in the belly can lead to back pain, eye strain, and general uneasiness. Releasing the associated muscular tension can bring much ease, calmness, and clarity.
Chest Release to Ease the Neck, Shoulders and Back
Whether you use a laptop, BlackBerry, or desktop computer or whether you drive, fly, or sit at a desk for most of the working day, the tendency after a few hours of work is to slouch – spine rounded and head poking forward. When this type of posture is held for a period of time, the muscles in the chest and neck tighten. The following exercise releases the muscles of your chest to reinvigorate and rejuvenate:
- Sit at the edge of your chair with equal weight on your sitting bones.
- Feel your feet planted on the floor. Relax your toes. Breathe.
- Gently fist your hands, with thumbs pointing up to the ceiling.
- Move your arms backward – you may feel this in your chest and/or your arms.
- Relax your jaw and keep your shoulders relaxed and moving down your back (don’t let them round forward).
- Breathe four or five times, then release. Repeat three to five times, slowly and easily.
Flow fact: Releasing the muscles of the chest can ease tension in the neck, jaw, and back.
Your body changes from day to day and you alone know your body best. Please be responsible with it – move with awareness and in your pain free range of motion.
*Image of “sitting posture” via Shutterstock