More posts by Kendra Borutski
I, and the rest of my Intelliware colleagues, have been working remotely for just over three weeks now, and I have often found myself reflecting on how much has changed in such little time. After speaking with friends and colleagues, it looks like I’m not the only one thinking about how best to cope with our new reality. One of my major struggles has been the change in my routine and adjusting to something completely different from what I’ve built over the past four years of working at Intelliware. During my conversations, a common concern is the difficulty of working for extended hours in a space that you’re not used to working from. Also, many of us are sitting on chairs that are not necessarily ergonomically friendly compared to the ones in the office.
My discussions triggered a memory of something that happened a few years back. Upon completing my 200-Hour Yoga Training program, I did a presentation on the topic of Desk Yoga before one of our monthly Town Halls. At the time, my objective was to counter the negative impact that sitting at a desk all day has on the body. However, with recent discussions, and taking into account our current climate, my original presentation remains relevant, and I’m excited to be able to share key elements of it again.
Here are a few of my favourite yoga poses that you can do at your new work from home setup, and the only props required are a chair and a table!
Trap Release & Neck Stretch
This pose releases the tension and stress that you hold in your neck.
Step 1: Sit tall. Inhale and lift the sides of your waist.
Step 2: Exhale, tilt your head to the right and relax your shoulders. Stay here for 5 breaths.
Step 3: Inhale, bring your head to a neutral position.
Step 4: Exhale, tilt your head to the left. Stay for 5 breaths.
Step 5: Look down and bring your chin close to your chest.
Step 6: Begin to circle your neck slowly, 5 times clockwise.
Step 7: Relax your shoulders.
Step 8: Repeat, circling your neck, 5 times counter-clockwise.
Shoulder Stretch Part 1
This pose helps to improve your range of motion, flexibility, posture and opens your shoulders up.
Step 1: Reach your right arm overhead and bend your elbow so that your hand lightly grazes the back of the neck.
Step 2: Hold your right elbow with your left hand. Your back may arch as you take your arm overhead; if you feel a strain in your lower back, draw your front ribs in towards your spine to help reduce the arch and strain.
Step 3: Take 3-5 breaths and then switch sides.
Shoulder Stretch Part 2
This pose targets the external rotators of the arm, which can often be tight and weak due to sustained poor posture at the computer.
Step 1: Take your right arm behind your back. Depending on your mobility here, your forearm will stay at your lower back, or you might walk your hand up your spine, in between the shoulder blades as pictured.
Step 2: Use your left hand to hold onto your right forearm or elbow.
Step 3: Stay here for 3 to 5 breaths.
Step 4: Gently release and take a moment with your arms at the sides of your torso before repeating the pose on the other side.
This pose can be intense. Go slowly and back off if you feel any pain.
Seated Eagle Balancing Pose
This pose stretches the wrists and shoulders.
Step 1: Sit tall. Bring your right arm over your left arm, palms touching.
Step 2: Bring your elbows to shoulder height.
Step 3: Relax your shoulders away from the ears.
Step 4: Inhale and lengthen the sides of your waist.
Step 5: Stay for 5 breaths.
Step 6: Change the interlace of your arms and repeat.
Forward Fold with Bent Knees
This pose stretches the lower back and hamstrings. Keeping your back flat will help with a deeper hamstring stretch.
Step 1: Sit tall. Inhale and lift the sides of your waist to lengthen.
Step 2: Exhale and fold forward from the hips.
Step 3: Release your arms to the floor and put your palms flat on the ground, if possible. Shoulders are stacked over your wrists.
Step 4: Relax your head and neck.
Step 5: Stay here for 5 breaths.
Step 6: Inhale and slowly lift yourself up to seated, with your head coming up last.
Step 7: Exhale.
This pose is great for stretching the muscles that are inactive from sitting, and it also releases lower back tension.
Step 1: Stand in front of your desk with your feet flat. When ready, guide your right heel back by holding it and pulling your abdomen in.
Step 2: Keep the left leg stable on the floor and take 10 deep breaths.
Step 3: Then switch legs.
Desk Shoulder Opener
This pose stretches out your shoulders that can become hunched from sitting and typing.
Step 1: Stand in front of your chair.
Step 2: Slowly fold forward at the hips and place both hands on the desk.
Step 3: Slowly move back until your arms are straight and your spine is long, head resting at the height of your arms.
Step 4: Keep your feet hips distance apart. See that your hips are stacked over your knees. If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees.
Step 5: Inhale, firm your upper outer arms in, and lengthen up from the fingertips to the shoulders and the hips.
Step 6: Exhale, draw your shoulder blades down away from the ears. Press your thigh bones back.
Step 7: Stay here for 5 breaths.
I’ve saved the best for last. This pose is wonderful for opening and balancing your hips.
Step 1: Sit tall. Lift your right leg.
Step 2: From the hip socket, turn your right leg out (externally rotate your right leg), and rest your right ankle on your left thigh. Flex your foot.
Step 3: Inhale and lengthen the sides of your waist.
Step 4: Exhale, relax your shoulders and relax into the pose.
Step 5: Stay here for 5 breaths.
Step 6: To release, bring your right leg to the center, and place your foot down. Repeat pose on your left leg.
Several years after my original presentation, I still find myself doing these poses at my desk to keep me balanced and energized throughout the day. I hope that these poses can bring some release and ease into your new remote working lifestyle. Namaste!