Sitting—whether at work, home, a ballgame, the park, subway, or car—is wreaking havoc on your body. Sitting still slows your circulatory system by pooling blood in your legs and feet; increases pressure on the springy part of your spine that absorbs shock; and slows your metabolism. That, along with ergonomic problems associated with staring at a computer screen for long hours and typing on a keyboard all day, and it becomes clear: A sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health.
A regular massage schedule can help ward off short- and long-term effects of cubicle life. But to give you an extra edge, we tracked down two yoga experts for some easy moves you can do while sitting in your chair.
Danielle Marie Gutshall, a certified Kripalu yoga instructor in Los Angeles, Calif., recommends sticking with the basics. “In regard to poses to do at the office,” she says, “try gentle neck rolls side to side, eye circles, and circling the wrists and ankles.” If you have a big cubicle space, here are a few more moves Danielle suggests:
Inhale with your arms out wide. Bring your arms up overhead, then down to rest your hands at your heart. From a standing position, gently bend forward. Then slowly return to a stand. Bring your hands down to your sides. Make big circles with your arms, clockwise and counter-clockwise, with long and deep breaths. From a standing position, rock slowly on your feet from the balls to the heels.
Sally Tamberelli, a yoga instructor and owner of Sallyoga in northern New Jersey, recommends starting any exercise by monitoring your breathing. Inhale for eight seconds, hold your breath for four, and exhale completely for 10. Repeat that at least six times, and Sally promises you’ll experience instant stress relief and increased energy.
“I also recommend using balancing poses before making difficult decisions,” she says. “Many people have told me they use this with great success—not just in the workplace.” Standing with one shoeless foot on the inner calf muscle of the opposite leg, pressing your foot and calf into each other. Repeat on the other side. “This uses your body’s warmth to promote overall health,” Sally says, “and soothes your hard-working feet.”
She also contributed the following exercise to try at your chair:
Sit with your back straight. Flex and arch your spine using your breath as the catalyst for each move. Inhale your heart forward, exhale your heart back.
Take your left hand to your right knee or thigh, and look over your right shoulder. Inhale three to five times and repeat on the other side. This creates a more supple and flexible spine, and has a beautiful effect the systems of the body—including the immune system.
Stand with your hands on the back of your chair and take one foot behind you, drawing heel to glutes. Repeat on other side. Do the exercise again, but switch which hand you use on each heel. This not only gives you a wonderful stretch, opens ancillary veins, and brings you energy—it also helps you to focus.