Returning back to your desk after a holiday can be a real pain in the neck! Your body may struggle to adapt as you suddenly spend longer stretches of time sitting (and let’s be honest, oftentimes hunched over your keyboard).
Joëlle Sleebos, Head of Yoga at Virgin Active, has cherry-picked these five Yoga inspired stretches to help with posture, neck pain and more that can be done at your desk - wherever that may be. So, get your ohm on and reduce discomfort, aches and pains, all in a day’s work.
#1 – Wrist and finger stretch
While seated, take the fingertips of one hand into the palm of your other hand. Extend that same arm forward, at shoulder-height, and gently pull your fingers down toward the back of your wrist until you feel a slight stretch. This stretch will give your wrists some relief from frantic typing, and has the added benefit of lowering your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Hold the pose and breathe for 3-5 slow breaths, then switch hands.
#2 – Seated Tadasana
Reach your arms above your head, aligning your wrists over shoulders. Inhale: Activate your fingers and arms by reaching your hands to the ceiling and spreading your fingers as wide as possible. Engage your abs as you sit up tall. Exhale: Relax your shoulders, align your head directly over your torso and slightly lift your chin up and in towards your throat to help stretch and straighten the back of your neck, your spine and find a good posture. Hold the pose and breathe for 3-5 slow breath cycles.
#3 – Seated Lateral Side Stretch
Move into this stretch directly from the seated tadasana. Extend your right arm overhead toward the left side of your body and relax your left arm down. Feel the length on the right side of your torso from the right hip to right armpit. Your palm can face to the left and shift your gaze toward your bicep if your neck allows – don’t force your neck into any discomfort. Create space between your shoulders and ears, keeping your shoulders relaxed and in line with your desk and each other to avoid leaning forward or back — only sideways. Hold the pose and breathe for 3-5 slow breaths. Then switch sides to lengthen your abdominal muscles while improving spinal flexibility.
#4 - Seated Spinal Twist
Move into this stretch directly from the seated tadasana. Bring your hand to your shoulders, lift your elbows to the side at the same level as your shoulders. Inhale: broaden your chest and look straight in front of you. Exhale: Twist and look to the right, while maintaining your hips in place. You may extend your arms and actively reach your right arm behind you and the left arm to the front. Then switch sides to improve spinal strength and flexibility, reduce back pain and improve your digestion.
#5 – Seated Forward fold and backbend
Take a moment, give yourself a little more space, and take a deep breath before leaning forward slowly into a Paschimottanasana – or a seated forward bend. Focus on slowly extending the top half of the body over the seated lower half – gradually stretching out while controlling your abdomen and elongating your back. To counter the forward fold, sit upright with a deep inhale before moving into the seated backbend. Stretch your hands down a few centimetres behind your hips and hold on to the edges of your chair. Push into the chair and reach your shoulder blades down and back. Hug your belly in as you blossom your heart and lift your chest up and forward. Lift your gaze slightly and if it feels comfortable you can gently tilt your head backwards too, but be careful of discomfort in your neck. Hold the poses and breathe for 3-5 slow breaths.
More than anything, Yoga is about breathing. As you work towards stretching out those back to work kinks, remember to take time to close your eyes and really focus on taking 5-10 deep, slow breaths before you dive back into your inbox. Your neck, spine and spirit will thank you.