Sitting. It’s such a natural posture, but lately it feels as if we’re being told more and more just how bad it is. For most of us though, it’s an unavoidable aspect of life.
We sit in our cars, at work, at school; even if we live as active a lifestyle as possible, sitting for any extended period of time at our desks can still wreak havoc on our overall health and well being. Recent studies have shown a link between long periods of sitting with a variety of health conditions, effecting even those who work out regularly, an unfortunate truth that can leave those of us who work desk jobs feeling pretty helpless. The good news is, besides taking frequent breaks and getting up and moving around as much as possible, there are simple ways to help undo the damage.
If at the end of the day you’re left with a knot between your shoulder blades and a stitch between your eyebrows, today, with the help of our intimates buyer Samara (who also happens to be a Pilates instructor and a far more experienced yogi than myself), I’m sharing some essential yoga-based stretches to help ease all that tension.
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Downward Facing Dog
If you do one stretch after sitting at your desk all day, let this be it. Downward Dog is a strengthening move that stretches your legs, back, hamstrings, and opens your shoulders and heart, while also improving circulation and waking you up. However, don’t be fooled by how simple this move looks – achieving the correct alignment takes practice and adjustment.
To get it right, engage your core and push up through your quadriceps, being sure not to over extend your knees. Your body should look like a straight, upside-down V.
Mountain Pose is a basic standing pose, but coupled with a light back bend, this posture-focused pose helps to open tight chest muscles and strengthen legs.
Stand with your feet a few inches apart and bring your palms together towards the sky. Relax your head and neck as you slowly bend backwards into a light stretch.
This move is so simple to do, and amazingly beneficial for your body and mind. Apart from stretching out your back and hamstrings, this stretch helps to free you from any mental blocks you may be unnecessarily holding on to.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent, fold down from your hips and let your body hang, gently resting your fingertips or hands on the ground. Allow your head to hang and gently move it from side to side and slowly from “yes” to “no”.
Another move that looks simple but packs a whole lot of benefits, Bound Angle is easy to do and helps ease any tightness in your hips and lower body that you may be feeling from staying seated for so long, and stretches your inner thighs and knees.
To do it, sit with your knees out at a comfortable angle and your back straight. Breathe deeply and allow your knees to relax a little further towards the floor ad you grasp your feet or ankles.
Thread The Needle
If you’re like me and tend to carry tension n your shoulders and between your shoulder blades, Thread The Needle is a life changing move. Along with stretching between your shoulder blades, this pose can help relieve back pain and helps to open your chest.
To get into this pose, begin on all fours and thread your right arm through the space between your left arm and left leg as you allow your right shoulder and temple to slowly release to the ground. Keep your left arm where it is, being careful not to rest your head completely on the ground. Hold for a few breaths and repeat with your left side.
I love finishing a workout and stretching session with Child’s Pose, which helps stretch your ankles, thighs, and hips, and relieves tension and stress.
Begin on your hands and knees and move your hips back into a kneeling position, moving your knees to be about hips-width apart. Breathe in deeply and as you exhale, lower your torso keeping your hands in front of you shoulder-distance apart. Slowly roll your forehead from side to side on your mat to ease any tension you may be carrying there.
While it’s not an “official” pose, this shoulder and chest opener is amazing for anyone hunched over a keyboard. With your legs bent at the knee and crossed in front of you, lift your arms so your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Press your elbows back, keeping your arms at right angles and your palms open.
Another game changer, Seated Eagle is amazing for stretching that hard to reach spot between your shoulder blades and stretches your upper back.
In a seated position, stretch your arms out in front of you while you stretch your shoulder blades across you back. Fold your right arm over the left and bend your elbows so they’re fitted tightly together and raise your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Press your palms together and slowly lift your arms to the ceiling.
A staple post-workout stretch, this move relieves tension in your back and helps stretch your legs and arms. In a seated position, stretch your legs out in front of you, bending your right leg at the knee and bringing your foot towards your inner thigh. Raise your right arm over head and bend towards your left leg. Hold for five breaths, repeat on the opposite side.
Do you have a favorite way to relax after work? Let us know in the comments!
More movement posts from the BLDG 25 blog.
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