Om on grey

Standing supported warrior II bw-small

 tilda star

     Yoga is an ancient art that has much relevance for our modern times. Breathing and stretching exercises are part of a practice designed to guide you into tapping into your inner strength, releasing tension, opening to new ideas and possibilities, and centering into the highest and healthiest image you can hold for yourself.

      The practice is simple and benefits are many. Do the poses that work for your body and apply what helps you to get relaxed and grounded, in the order that works for you. The unfolding benefit of mindfully calming the breath and opening tight and compressed muscles comes from taking the time to stop outside activities and explore your inner world and how it shapes your outward expression. Yoga is about making connections on all levels of your being so go slow and tune into the sensations you create. Always be safe and do not push any stretch too far.   Breathe slow and deep, and enjoy!


To start: Breathing Techniques for Releasing Stress at Your Desk

       Begin each session by stopping for a moment to use your steady even breath to relax and center you into the inner sensations you are experiencing. Try to observe and note without judging what shows up as being “good” or “bad.” The breath is a powerful tool for shifting into a more receptive and self-aware state of mind. A few moments of deep breathing followed by the exercises below can shift your day and help you be receptive to new ideas, possibilities and can jump-start your creativity.

Breath Observation

Begin to release tension by giving your mind a place to rest outside of your concerns, plans and preoccupations.  Watch the breath come in and out through your nostrils for 1-3 minutes and note how your mind calms.

Even Flowing Breath with a Count

Observe the flow of your breath once it has settle and your thoughts begin to still.  Keeping the natural rhythm of your breath add a mental count to yourself as you inhale; match the count as you exhale.  Try starting at a count of 1 to 5. You can gradually lengthen the count with the in and out breath but do not go so long as to add tension or stress. 1-3 minutes.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Bend the second and third fingers in to the palm on your right hand.  Place the thumb against the right nostril to press it closed.  Keep the left nostril open and breath in deep through it.  Once your lungs are full, press the fourth (ring) finger into the left nostril and open the right to release the breath slowly.  Repeat, breathing from side to side. 1-3 minutes.


  Yoga Stretches at Your Desk

        Explore each of the poses below in any order or combination that feels right.  Note that your experience of each stretch may shift from day to day based on what is going on with you at any given time.  Observe what sensations show up as you initiate, hold and then release each stretch. Use your steady even breath to help focus your awareness and relax into your effort.  In general, breath in to soften, lift and expand; exhale to turn deeper into twists and to release into forward bends.

       At the end of any session take a few moments to sit still and quiet to let the opening settle in.  Look for effects on the state of your body, mind and nervous system.  Yoga is about making connections so keep an eye out for how integrated you may feel after a good stretch and how you interrelate with others.

 Standing shoulder and chest stretch bw-small

  Shoulder and Chest Stretch

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bring your arms behind your back and interlace your fingers. Use a belt, tie or towel if you can’t clasp your hands.
  3. With your elbows slightly bent press the shoulders back and draw the shoulder blades down. Lift your sternum towards your chin.
  4. Extend the collar bones wide and breath steady and easy as you draw the shoulder blades to the back.
  5. Hold for several breath cycles, relax for a moment, then repeat.

 

       Standing press up right bw-smallStanding press up left bw-small

 Upward Arm Stretch Twist

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Interlock your fingers and extend   your arms strait up as you press your palms toward the sky.
  2. Take a breath in and with the exhale slowly turn your shoulder to the right. Draw the shoulder blades down and stretch from the waist up the sides of your body to the arm pit.
  3. Do gentle pulses in and out of the stretch with the flow of the   inhalation and exhalation. Do this for several rounds of breath.
  4. Release your twist and turn to the left, repeating the pulsing   stretch with the breath.

 

Standing beautiful day bw-small

  It’s A Beautiful Day Gentle Backbend

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Interlace your hands behind the head.
  3. Draw the elbows towards each other as you slide the  shoulder blades down the back.
  4. Take several long breaths in and out as you lean back into the support of your hands.
  5. As you press deeper into your feet lift your heart and explore an upper backbend; draw the shoulder blades down for additional support.

 

 

 Standing side stretch bw-small

 Standing side stretch

  1. Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart and draw your ankles isometrically toward each other.
  2. Reach both arms up and clasp the left wrist with the right.
  3. Pull upward and then out to the side for a deep side stretch.
  4. Continue to squeeze the ankles in and press down into the feet to lift and go deep.
  5. Come up and out of the stretch and relax the arms before stretching to the opposite side.

 

 

Seated arms press up bw-smallSeated arms press up twist bw-small

 Seated press-up

  1. Sit straight in a chair with your feet placed evenly on the floor.
  2. Raise your arms overhead and interlace the fingers turning the palms up.
  3. Draw the shoulders back as you press the palms upward.
  4. Push downward into your seat as you lengthen the sides of the body from waist to arm pit.
  5. Add a gentle twist to one side then the other.
  6. Release and gently roll your shoulders to release any residual tension.

 

 Seated twist to the right bw-small Seated twist front on to the right bw-small

Chair Twist

  1. Sit sideways on the edge of your chair with your right side facing the chair back.; keep your feet and knees together and even.
  2. Take a breath in and with an exhale twist to the right drawing your chin over the right shoulder.
  3. Maintain a straight back with the shoulder blades drawn down toward your waist
  4. Twisting from the very bottom of your spine pulling with your left hand and pushing with your right.
  5. Release partially from the twist and then gently pulse in and out of  the twist several more times keeping your feet pressing into the floor and knees together.
  6. Release and switch sides.

 

Seated fold -elbows bw-small

Seated fold -arms up bw-small Seated fold -front on bw-small

 Seated Fold-Over Back Stretch

  1. Sit in your chair with feet hip-width apart.
  2. From the hip crease, bend forward and hold onto opposite-side elbows.  Allow your entire body to relax as you drape over your lap.
  3. Energize the stretch by sitting up and clasping your hands, or strap, behind your back. roll forward and press the elbows and arms upward.
  4. Hold this pose as long as you like and then release your hands to completely relax. Let the arms drape down as you release all tension in your neck and shoulders. Optionally place a pillow or rolled up garment under your belly as you roll forward.
  5. Allowing each exhalation to relax your body and mind. Sit up on an inhalation, pause for a few moments, and fold forward again if you like.

 

 Seated fold twist prayer bw-small Seated fold twist arms out bw-small

 Seated Lower Back Stretch with a Twist

  1. Sit in your chair with feet hip-width wide and draw your legs toward each other .
  2. Fold deeply from your waist and draw your navel toward the spine as you reach the right elbow over the left thigh.
  3. Draw the top shoulder back and the shoulder blades towards your   waist.
  4. Open up your stretch by extending your bottom arm to the floor or a  support (such as a book or yoga block). Raise the other arm straight up to the sky and press the shoulder back to spiral the torso open.
  5. Release and let your arms drape down to the floor as you completely relax.
  6. Press your feet into the floor to sit up and fold to the other side.
  7. Repeat if desired.

 

 Seated figure 4 bw-smallSeated leg cross fold wedge bw-smallSeated leg cross fold hang bw-small

 Seated Figure-4 Hip Opener

  1. Sit tall in a chair
  2. Place one ankle on top of the opposite leg thigh.
  3. Gently press the crossed-over knee downward, mindful of not over-stressing the hip socket.
  4. Pulse in and out of the stretch several times gradually adding time to the hold.
  5. Thread your arms through your legs as you fold forward; gently press your elbows outward to broaden between the shoulders.
  6. Lift back up to pull your arms out and fold forward letting the arms hang; relax and let your back softly expand
  7. Switch to the second side.

 

 Seated arm cross bw-small

 Seated Shoulder Opener

  1. Sit tall in a chair.
  2. Stretch one arm up and over your chest while drawing the same-side shoulder back.
  3. Use the opposite arm to hook the arm from the underside and draw it closer to your chest.
  4. Hold for several counts of breath and then switch sides.

 

Seated eagle bw-small

 Seated Shoulder and Leg Wrap (Eagle Pose)

  1. Sit tall in a chair
  2. Cross the right arm under the left and press palms toward each other (or back of the hands towards each other if shoulders are tight)
  3. While holding the arms intertwined cross the left leg over the right and stretch the back of the left foot behind the left calf, if possible.
  4. Hold for several breath cycles and then switch sides.

 

       Standing forward bend legs bent desk bw-smallStanding forward bend legs straight bw-small

 Standing supported forward bend

  1. Stand with feet hip-width wide facing a desk or counter top.
  2. Bend your knees as you fold forward and support your arms on the desk top shoulder-width wide.
  3. Gradually press down into your feet to straighten your legs and press the thighs back.
  4. Alternate between bent knees and straight legs as you dip your seat downward.
  5. Keep even pressure into your arms as you press back through your seat.
  6. Release to stand and repeat if desired.

 

          Standing foot on cair lunge bw-small Standing leg strait on chair bw-small Standing straight leg on desk bw-small Standing leg strait on desk twist bw-small

 

 Standing High Lunge & Leg Stretch

  1. Stand facing a stable chair (pushing it up against a wall or desk if the chair has rollers) and place one foot on the seat.
  2. With hands on hips lean forward to deepen the stretch; shoulders back. Optionally grab the back of the chair for more stability and support.
  3. Pull out of the supported lunge, straighten the lifted leg and refold. Add a press down into the heel   and slightly lift the knee so as not to hyper extend the knee joint.
  4.   Deepen the leg stretch by lifting the leg higher onto a desk top; keep pressing down on the hips as you fold forward.
  5.   Lift up out of the bend and turn your hips and standing-leg foot out; gently press down on the lifted thigh as you draw your shoulders back.
  6.   Turn your hips back to face your desk and revolve into a twist   (picture shown in reverse with other leg up).
  7.   Release and do the second side.

 

 

 Standing supported side stretch bw-small Standing supported warrior II bw-small

 Supported lunge side stretch

  1. Stand facing a  stable chair (pushing it up against a wall or desk if the chair has rollers) and place one foot on the seat.
  2. Bend the lifted knee and rest the same-side forearm on top of the thigh; turn the bottom foot out to open the hips out.
  3. Reach up and overhead with the top arm to stretch out the ribs.
  4. Keep the top arm shoulder pressing back as you draw the shoulder blades toward your waist.
  5. Lift the forearm from the knee and extend both arms out while pressing the shoulders back.
  6. Release and do the second side.

 

 Standing forward bend knees bent bw-small Standing forward bend knees straight bw-small

 Standing forward bend

  1. Stand with feet a little wider than hip-width wide.
  2. Bend the knees and rest your forearms on top of the thighs.
  3. Draw your ankles in toward each other isometrically and press back through your seat.
  4. Keep the shoulders lifting up and the shoulder blades drawn towards your waist.
  5. Straighten the legs and keeping them drawn toward each other; release the arms down to the floor.  If you can’t reach the floor use a support (such as a yoga block or a book) or hold onto your shins.
  6. Press down into your feet to lift the hips upward and deepen your fold.
  7. Lightly bend your knees and press down to lift up and out of the pose.

 

 Standing wrist stretch bw-small

 Wrist Stretch

  1. Stand facing a stable desk.
  2. Turn your wrists so the fingers point toward your thighs.
  3. Apply gentle pressure downward mindful not to over stretch the wrists.
  4. Gently pulse in and out of the stretch.
  5. Release and shake your arms and wrists like you were shaking off water.

 

(c) William J.D. Doran

 

 

 

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