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September 29th, 2016 | Wellness

Essential Yoga Poses at Work - Part II

It's National Yoga Month, and with it we're bringing you part two of our series on yoga poses to try at work. We take a look at more yoga poses that can help to relieve tension and promote clarity in your work day. Incorporate these poses into your work day - you'll be surprised how powerful a few yoga poses can be!

If you've been practicing the modified chair dog, seated cat-cow, and leg lift yoga poses I covered in  Part I of Essential Yoga Poses at Work, you're in luck! Today, we'll go over three more poses and exercises that can further help with these trouble areas. Try adding the following poses into your work day. They're easy to do at your desk or office, but if you want to practice these in privacy, slip into a break room and take a fifteen minute break to really work through these poses. Your body will thank you for it!


THE GOOD OL' SHOULDER STRETCH

Copyright © 2016 Elaine OYang All Rights Reserved

Sit in a comfortable, upright position.

  • Roll the shoulders up, back, and down a few times.
  • On the exhale, roll the shoulders back and further down than usual. You should feel the bottom tips of your shoulder blades pulling down. You can grip the bottom edges of your chair to help draw the shoulder blades down.
  • Stay here for 5 breaths
  • Relax the shoulders. Draw your shoulders back and interlace your fingers behind you.
  • Exhale, pull the shoulder blades in towards one another and down away from the ears.
  • Gently bring the hands and arms away from your back so stretch the chest and the from of your shoulders.

Stay for 5 breaths, focusing them on the chest and in the upper ribcage. Relax your grip and your shoulders after 5 breaths.

Why This Works:

This stretch again targets the upper back muscles and the muscle group between the shoulder blades as well as the chest, which are often overworked due to our chronically forward-hunching arms and shoulders. This pose helps reverse the effects of the forward hunch, draw the shoulder blades back and down into their anatomical positions for relief, and open up the chest.


THE HITCHHIKER

Copyright © 2016 Elaine OYang All Rights Reserved

Stand behind your chair and place your hands on the back of your chair.

  • Stand firm into your left leg, and pulse your right leg in small movements behind you. Make sure your right hip does not roll out as you raise your right leg behind you. It is better to not raise your leg as high behind you and keep your hips square so that you truly work the hamstrings, gluteus muscles, and the lower back muscles.
  • Pulse for 30 rounds, then switch sides.

Stand firmly on both feet and feel the effects of the exercise after you have completed it.

Why This Works:

Your lower back and gluteus muscles become weak from long periods of sitting. Oftentimes, the cause of back pain stems from weak gluteus muscles, since they play an essential role in stabilizing the sacrum and lower back. The leg lifts prompt the muscles along the back lines of your body to work in the opposite direction (backbend) of sitting (forward bend) to create more balanced musculature.

LEG LIFT

Copyright © 2016 Elaine OYang All Rights Reserved

Bend your elbows by your waist and turn your palm facing upwards.

  • Tuck your four fingers in so that your thumb sticks out as in the thumbs-up sign or the hitchhiker symbol.
  • On the exhale, pivot your forearms out while keeping your elbows tucked towards your ribcage until your thumbs are pointing directly back behind you.
  • On the next inhale, pivot your forearms and hands back to the starting position.

Repeat 8 more times. Each time as you pivot your forearms back, squeeze your shoulder blades towards one another and pull them down away from your ears.

Why This Works:

When we sit, stand, write, type, drive, and walk with our shoulders rounded forward (internal rotation of the arms), the muscles in your upper back and surrounding your shoulder blades are being pulled and strained. The Hitchhiker helps strengthen the muscles of the shoulders and upper back while promoting external rotation of the arms to counteract all the rounding forward actions.


And that wraps up part II of our series on yoga poses to try at work! Looking for part I of the series? See the link below.

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Elaine Oyang, Yoga and Nutritional Therapist

Elaine had always known that she was born to heal people and change their lives, and she found that through her work as a yoga therapy teacher and nutrition consultant. After graduating from Harvey Mudd College with a degree in Biology, she pursued her passion of teaching yoga. With over ten years of practice, experience, and continuing education on functional anatomy, meditation, nutrition, and yoga therapy, Elaine brings her knowledge of wellness to the forefront when working with her students and clients. She is passionate about helping people go above and beyond their chronic pain, sleep problems, and digestive issues so that they can live an active and full life. Visit her site: elaineyoga.com

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