Do you spend too many hours sitting on a chair and working on a computer? If so, chances are that you have annoying aches in your body, especially in your lower back and neck, from staring intensely at the monitor. Spending a lot of time slouched over your work station causes havoc with your posture.
As a yoga teacher, one of the question my students ask frequently is “what yoga exercises can I do while at work to ease back pain, tired eyes, and that overall sense of tiredness and fatigue?” The first and foremost step to take in avoiding these aches is to correct your posture. Chances are that your shoulders are usually rounded and slumped, chin is jutting forward, and your ankles or legs are crossed as you stare at your screen.
Get Into The Proper Posture
- Bring your chair into an upright position.
- Avoid leaning backward or sagging in your chair.
- Make sure your feet are flat on the floor, with the toes pointing forward.
- Lengthen your back and neck.
- Slightly tuck your chin.
- Lower your shoulders.
- Check if your neck and back are aligned and in a straight line.
Now the most common complaints of my students are lower back pain, shoulder and neck ache, and sore wrists. Apart from easing these pains, they also wish to feel a sense of ease that they get during yoga at work. In this article, I give you seven simple, yet powerful, stress-relieving exercises you can do without budging from your seat.
1. Eye Exercises
Constantly staring at the screen can lead to strained and dry eyes. Try these three simple eye exercises to refresh and relax your eyes.
- First, gently rest your hands on your lap, bring your attention to your eyes, and consciously blink for 3–5 times.
- Open your eyes and imagine that you are staring at a clock with numerals. Stare at the center of your imaginary clock. Keep your head still, look at the number 5 on the clock and then the number 10. Now gaze at the number 2 and then swiftly at the number 8. Repeat these eye movement sequences three to five times.
- Close your eyes, rub your palms vigorously till you feel warmth between your palms, and softly cup your hands over your closed eyes. Take three deep breaths in and out through your nose.
2. Deep Breathing Sequence
This deep breathing sequence helps to calm and clear your mind. Doing it in the middle of the day will also help ease the stress and instantly recharge your brain.
- Check your posture and turn your attention to your breath.
- Inhale through your nose slowly up to the count of 3 and exhale through your nose for a count of 3.
- Repeat this exercise three more times.
The next four exercises are ideal to help you reduce lower back pain, tone your system, and bring a sense of ease and realignment to your body. They also help you to stay focused.
3. Raise Your Arms Above Your Head
- Check your posture, lengthen your spine, lift your shoulders up to your ears and lower them back down; tuck your chin in towards the top of your chest so that the top of your head is pointing upward toward the ceiling.
- Place your palms together with your thumbs nestling against your chest.
- Slowly stretch your arms up in the air above your head. When your arms are above your head, separate your hands and look straight ahead with a soft gaze.
- Take 3– 5 deep breaths through your nose as you continue to stretch your fingers towards the ceiling while keeping your shoulders lowered.
- Slowly lower your arms and rest your hands on your lap.
4. Rotate Your Wrists
This exercise helps to release tension and stiffness in your wrists and fingers, especially if you spend long periods of time typing on your keyboard.
- Check your posture, stretch your arms out to the side of your body, keep your arms straight, and raise your arms up to the shoulder level.
- Make a fist with your hands and rotate your wrist 5–7 times in each direction.
- Now, release your fist and pretend to play the piano with your fingers. Properly wriggle your fingers as you play your imaginary piano for a count of 20.
- Relax your arms and flap and shake your hands for a count of 20.
- Rest your palms on your lap.
5. Seated Cobra
- Check your posture and place your hands on your thighs. Make sure your feet are still flat on the ground and facing forward.
- Breathe in through your nose and, as you breathe out, gently lift your chest, lower your head back, and arch your upper back backward.
- Keep your shoulders lowered and allow your jaw to relax and breathe steadily throughout.
- Repeat this 3–5 times and relax.
6. Seated Spinal Twist
- Check your posture and cross your left leg over your right leg.
- Place your right hand on your crossed knee.
- Keeping your back straight, slowly turn your body to the left as you look over your left shoulder.
- Stay in this posture stretching the back for 3–5 deep breaths.
- Slowly get back to the center and uncross your legs.
- Now repeat the posture in the opposite direction.
7. Seated Cat Stretch
Make sure you have enough space between your desk and chair to do this exercise.
- Check your posture and as you breathe out through your nose, slowly bend forward and rest your hands on your ankles or your shins.
- Slowly arch your back as if you were a cat.
- Get back to the center and repeat this arching movement 3–5 times.
How To Wrap Up The Sequence
Rest your hands on your lap, palms facing upward, lengthen your spine, softly relax your jaw, close your eyes, and see if you can notice any changes in the way you feel, your thoughts, your mind, and your body. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes, smile, and give yourself a hug. Well done! You can now return to your work refocused, calm, and energized.
For better effects, keep an alarm on your phone to repeat the sequence every day at a preferred time.
Word of caution: As with all forms of exercise, and particularly if you haven’t exercised for a while, please consult your doctor to make sure that there is no underlying medical issue causing your discomfort. Also, remember to listen to your body and take time to breathe softly and deeply as you do the poses.