Desk Yoga

Here is a quick sequence to do when you are working on a computer. This mini movement break can make a world of a difference to how you feel at the end of your day. The sequence is to release parts of the body that are “tight” due to sitting and also poor posture when seated in a chair for extended periods of time. No matter what, try to stand up and walk around your room as much as possible. A trick that I use is to stand when talking on the phone. If you find yourself wrapped in work and forgetting a break, set a timer on your cell phone every 20 minutes. Enjoy and find movement breaks whenever possible.

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Chest expansion

Interlace fingers behind your back and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together. This creates space across the front of your chest near the collarbones.

Desk Downward Facing Dog

Place hands on the desk and roll your chair back till you feel your arms and spine elongate. This opens up the back line of the body and feels amazing on the shoulders.

Side body (lateral) release

For stability place your forearm on the desk. Create a lengthening to your side body by leaning over slightly. Ground into both sit bones as you do so. Your arm can extend straight and arch overhead or use this version with the hand gently behind the head.

Hip and Twist

Combo move to be done on both sides. Figure 4 hip opening stretch with the legs as you take a twist (without forcing) towards the foot. The ankle of one leg lands on the opposite thigh, just above the knee. This gives an external rotation to the hip.

Calf Stretch

The calf muscles get short and tight due to sitting all day. This helps to release some tension in that area. I am showing using the leg of the chair to rest the top of the foot as the heel stays on the ground. If this is not possible with your chair, then roll a towel or blanket to get the same effect. (front of foot on blanket and heel on ground)

Quad Release aka Desk Dancer Pose

Don’t worry if you cannot grab the ankle, this can be done dynamically in which you stand with chair or desk support and you kick heel towards glute back and forth. Releasing tension in hip flexors group which includes the quad muscle. I am showing using a padded chair seat to rest my knee and holding onto the desk for stability.

Yoga 101 = Yoga Definition & History

This is a new series to my blog where I will some brief explanations on various yoga topics. These can be very helpful if you are new to the practice.

Yoga Definition

There is really no one definition of yoga. The word itself from Sanskrit is from the root word yug which can be translated to mean “union”, “to yoke”, “to bring together”, “to harness”.

Yoga can be defined to mean a multitude of things depending on what you need from the practice. It can be a physical practice to relieve stress and tension in the body. Or it can be a mental/emotional/spiritual practice with studying the Sutras and Yoga Philosophy.

In my definition it means to be fully present while you are doing a task so that the mind can rest.

Yoga History

  • 4000-2000 BCE = Discovered in the 1920’s were stone engravings in the Indus Valley which looked like figures in the lotus posture which are dated to be from around 3000 BCE. They are linked to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization. This civilization is important since it composed the Vedas (India’s most revered scriptures) and the culture is believed to be the source of Sanskrit writing.
  • 2000-200 BCE = Vedic period focused on chanting and hymns (no breath control or physical poses). The Vedas scriptures were the beginning of Indian philosophy as we know it today. (Note Veda comes from Sanskrit root word vid meaning knowledge) First as an oral tradition and then they were written around 1500 – 1200 BCE by the priests or Brahmins.
    • The Upanishads were commentaries on the Vedas around 600-300 BCE. The term means “sitting down near” or to be seated at the foot of a guru or spiritual teacher.
    • The Bhagavad Gita story of the battlefield conversation between Krishna and Arjuna was written around 300 BCE.
    • Yoga Sutras by the sage Patanjali were written around 200 BCE.  This was a compilation of the information written in the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. There are 194 sutras (means “strings”). Only mention of a physical practice is a seated position for meditation.  Yoga Sutra 1.2 is the most famous, yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind.
  • 1350-1400 CE = Hatha yoga begins,15 postures described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.  Most are versions of seated poses, some postures we no longer practice today. Compiled by Swami Swatamarama.
  • Current Day = Many of the asanas (physical postures) were developed in the early 1900’s.  Began in India and influenced by gymnastics and body builders.  Those who practiced were young men
    • Physical yoga classes held for young boys, mainly in royal family, at the Jaganmohan Palace in India for physical fitness purposes around the 1930’s. Teacher was Krishnamacharya. During this time sun salutations were added.
    • 1930s = Yoga to the West. Students of Krishnamacharya (often referred to as the Father of Yoga Physical Practice) toured around the world to show movements like headstands, shoulderstands.  This is how it was introduced to the West, they did demos/shows for audiences.
    • B.K.S. Iyengar is a teacher who wrote Light on Yoga published in 1966.  This was the first detailed document of poses with alignment information.  
    • Modern day yoga is every changing, new poses come out all of the time.  Especially as we learn more about anatomy.  What has never changed in thousands of years is that yoga is still a state of mind more than a physical shape.  

Recommended Reading…”Yoga Body The Origins of Modern Posture Practice” by Mark Singleton

Doorway Yoga

Here is a quick and easy door frame or doorway yoga practice that you can do whenever you need a quick relief to your back. The target here is the spine with a lateral side stretch, mini backbend and also a twist.

Half Moon 1 (Side Lateral Stretch)

  • One side of the door frame = Press the side of your hip.
  • Other side of door frame = Plant your forearm, this will be your support as you side bend.
  • Reach your free arm overhead to make an arching rainbow shape. This creates the side lengthening feeling.
  • Your forearm and hip press into the doorframe with light pressure (aka they press away from each other).
  • Repeat on the other side.

Cobra

  • Position yourself to face the doorway.
  • Forearms connect to either side of the door trim at a comfortable height. I am showing elbows slightly below shoulder level.
  • Keeping your arms on the door frame as you walk forward.
  • You will feel a stretch and opening in the upper chest and also a squeeze of the shoulder blades.
  • If comfortable, you can draw your forehead up towards the ceiling.

Spinal Twist

  • Begin standing in mountain pose with your back against the door frame. (Your connection points are the upper back between the shoulder blades and sacrum)
  • Reach one hand in front of you to the other side of the door frame for support. Straighten the arm if possible.
  • Take an inhale to create space, think of standing up tall.
  • As you exhale, twist from the rib cage area.
  • Repeat on the other side.