Sitting for long periods of time is really bad for human health. Unfortunately, many with desk jobs may find themselves sitting in front of a computer for upwards of 12-14 hours per day. Over time, sedentary practices increase the risk of chronic disease, organ damage, and musculoskeletal problems.
In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, moving around every hour or so, and exercising outside of work, people are also using yoga to combat the negative effects of sitting in an office chair. Instead of bemoaning your time at a desk, use your chair as a tool for staying healthy. Yoga is low impact, and poses range from notably simple to extremely difficult. The type and amount of yoga you perform is up to you.
Here are 5 yoga poses you can work on with your office chair to improve strength and balance while getting your circulatory system working:
1. Breath exercises. Simply changing your breathing can improve your health, mental alertness, and circulation. Take a moment to move back from your desk. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, and either raise your arms and push your hands together or place your hands in a comfortable resting position on your legs or armrests. Sit back in your chair and up straight against the chair’s support.
Close your eyes and observe your breath. You may notice that you were breathing shallowly or unevenly. Focus on making your breath smooth and full. Breathe from your abdomen and without lifting your shoulders (chest breathing). Take 10-12 breaths while maintaining your focus. This exercise is primarily used to alleviate stress and anxiety. You may also notice that it gives you a sense of clarity or focus. Anytime you start to feel the pressures of the day overwhelm you, sit back and focus on your breathing in this way.
2.Eagle arms. Prevent carpal tunnel with this office chair exercise. Sit in your chair as you would to perform breathing exercises. Give yourself enough space that you won’t hit your desk as you raise your arms to a 90-degree angle, bent at the elbows. Place one elbow on top of the other, and weave your bottom hand around the top arm. Your two palms should face each other and overlap slightly. Hold this position for 2-3 full breaths, and then switch to the opposite arm. The stretch will improve your posture and alleviate tension in your neck.
3.Chest-opening back bend. Sit firmly in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath and raise your arms up to the ceiling, palms facing each other in an open V-shape. Exhale and take another deep breath as you raise your eyes up to the ceiling and tilt your torso and arms slightly backward. Only go as far back as is comfortable. Hold the position for a moment, then exhale and release. Go through this routine 2-3 times to stretch your back, open your chest, and improve your circulation.
4.Seated twist. Sit straight in your chair, slightly away from your desk with arms and legs relaxed. Breathe in as you reach around and grab the back of your chair and twist from the waist. Place your non-reaching hand on the chair for stability and to increase your range of motion. Hold the position for 2-3 breaths, deepening each stretch as you breathe. You may press your non-reaching hand into the chair or your knee to push yourself into a deeper range of motion, but avoid movements that cause pain or serious discomfort. Release and repeat the twisting movement on the other side.
Try to keep your hips in place as you twist from your core. Maintain your posture to gain the full benefit of the exercise. This exercise alleviates strain on the spine, improves posture, and works your abdominal muscles.
5. Front bend. Start from an upright sitting position in your chair. Place your feet flat on the ground. Reach up with your arms and then bend at the waist, letting your arms hang freely below. Breathe in the position for as long as you feel comfortable, then slowly rise back up to a sitting position.
For a deeper stretch, begin from a standing position, and use your chair for support as necessary. Let your arms hang instead of using them to prop yourself up. Hold the position for several minutes, allowing your spine to elongate and stretch. This move is a relaxing, neutral position to give your mind a break before you head back into the workday.
In addition to stretching intermittently throughout the day, consider investing in an ergonomic chair and/or desk that supports your spine and your natural posture. The right office equipment will reduce strain as you work, and some also encourage healthy posture practices.
Proactive health investments can mitigate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and improve your ability to focus throughout the day. For a more invigorating practice, try some different yoga poses, using your chair or desk for support. Aim to stretch at least twice a day as a break from work. Your mind and body will thank you.