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Take a 5 Minute Yoga Break
Yoga offers many health benefits from reduced stress to improved circulation and flexibility. Whether you’re pushing through a long day at the office or simply want to ease muscle tension, all of us can benefit from integrating even the most basic yoga stretches into our daily routine.
Try this series of yoga postures while seated in a stable chair and instantly feel the benefits of each pose.
To begin, remove shoes and sit in a stable chair. Sit slightly away from the back of the chair so that both feet are flat on the floor at hip distance apart. Bend the knees at a ninety-degree angle and rest the palms on the thighs. Lengthen the spine and avoid slouching in the lower back and shoulders. Take 5 deep breaths and then begin the sequence. When finished each pose, come back to the basic seated position before moving on.
Slow Stretch for the Neck
From starting position, keep the palms resting on the thighs and slowly drop the right ear toward the right shoulder. Allow for the weight of the head to open the neck in this stretch, be mindful to keep the shoulders from lifting upward to the ears. Take 5 breaths and return the head to center. Repeat on the left side.
Benefits: Tension can build in the neck area from long hours of hovering over a computer. Stretching the neck not only eases tension but also revitalizes energy levels.
Shoulders & Chest
From starting position raise both arms up toward the ceiling; lift the chin and eyes also. Slowly separate the arms wide apart from one another, lower them down to reach the palms behind you grip the lowest part of the chair back. Lift the chest and eyes to the ceiling again, take a deep breath. Soften the body on the exhalations and repeat 3-5 times.
Benefits: An open chest helps us to breathe better as the lungs have the space to expand to their full capacity. Open shoulders can improve posture and alleviate back pain.
Seated Forward Fold
Open the feet a little wider than hip distance apart and keep the palms resting on the thighs. With a long spine and start to lean forward allowing for the elbows to bend outward. Puff the chest and continue to lower the chest toward the legs until you feel a good compression in the hips and a stretch all the way down into the lower back. Hold the posture for 3 breaths, return slowly to starting position and repeat.
Benefits: The hips and lower back tend to be the first areas to tighten up when in a seated position for lengthy periods of time. It is essential to keep these muscles and joints supple through stretches and adequate hydration.
Raise the arms and eyes to the ceiling; keep the palms at shoulder distance apart. Drop the right palm down and grip the side of the chair. Lift the left arm even higher and stretch the arm toward the right to open the left side of the body. The eyes can remain looking upward or look down to accommodate where the neck feels best. Take 3-5 breaths then lift the right arm back up to the ceiling and repeat the stretch on the other side.
Benefits: Side bends provide a stretch to the abdomen and the muscles between the ribs. When in a seated position for several hours a day these muscles can get short and tight resulting in weakened posture and neck and shoulder tension.
Cross the right leg over the left, rest the right palm on the right knee and grip the back of the chair with the left palm. Lengthen the spine and twist the chest to the left. Hold the twist for 3-5 breaths, return to center and uncross the legs. Cross the left leg over the right and repeat the stretch on the left side.
Benefits: Spending long hours seated at a desk can create poor posture and limited mobility in the spine. Twists stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine and improve posture.
Courtesy of Jenny Nicol, Holistic Nutritionist and Yoga Instructor