For the majority of us, work and our commute take up most of our time on an average day, so wouldn’t it be nice to throw in some yoga and mindfulness in the few open spaces you can squeeze in?
10 Ways to Add Yoga to Your Work Day
1. 10-Minute Sun Salutation at Home – Starting your day with a 10-minute Sun Salutation is a wonderful way to wake up and get energized. Sun Salutations warm up your body and mind through a moving meditation of forward folds, Chaturangas (high plank to low plank) and Warrior Poses.
2. Breathe Deeply While Driving to Work - Tuning into your breath throughout your commute is the best way to stay focused and in the moment. While you are concentrating on your breathing, you are able to maintain an open mind without the distractions of your “to-do” list or getting lost in a fantasy world of your own making.
My favorite is Ujjayi breathing, which is one of the most basic breathing exercises in yoga, enabling the creation of a calm yet invigorating feeling with each ripple of your breath.
Close your mouth, then simply draw the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and breathe in deeply through your nose, exhaling slowly through your mouth. Repeat as long as you wish.
3. Yoga at Your Desk - Sitting at a desk for six to eight hours a day not only zaps your energy, but also sets the stage for poor posture between hunched shoulders and a rounded spine.
The following five poses will help you unwind at your desk, while maintaining your focus throughout the day.
4. Shoulder Rolls – Sitting up straight in your chair, gently roll your shoulders up and back, allowing any tension and tightness to roll away like waves out in the ocean.
5. Chair Twist – Sitting up straight in your chair, bring your hands to your left hip and knee while looking over your left shoulder. Take three deep full breaths and return to center, repeating on your right.
6. Forward Fold in Chair – Folding forward provides an invigorating release, allowing your oxygen and blood flow to reverse course and helping you to stay calm and see things from a different perspective while also letting go of tension in your spine. Extend your arms to the sky and fold forward, letting your head hang loose, taking deep breaths, allowing a natural lengthening and opening in your spine. Hold for three to five breaths.
7. Mountain Pose – This is a wonderful full-body stretch that can be done anywhere, improving posture and providing the necessary grounding energy to tune in to where you have tension in your body and how to let it go. Standing with your feet together, arms at your side, root down through your feet, drawing energy up through your legs, into your hips and spine, tightening your abdominal muscles and keeping a steady gaze. Hold for three to five breaths.
8. Office Pigeon - Pigeon is a deep hip opener that also opens the shoulders and chest…areas that hold a lot of tension, especially when sitting at a desk. I do have to state that this modification requires space at your desk and the ability to focus inward.
Standing in front of your desk, bend your right knee, drawing it to the front of your desk. Draw your body closer to your desk for a gentle stretch and further away for a deeper stretch. Lengthen through your spine, and fold forward as far as feels comfortable.
9. Take Time Out for Your Breaks – Pack or buy a healthy lunch that you can eat away from your desk and take your mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks to enjoy a moment of stillness and contemplation with a cup of tea or coffee.
10. Breathe Deeply While Driving Home – End your day with a less stressful commute and take the time to honor you, your work, and your life by focusing on your breath during the drive home. Simply acknowledging the flow of your breath from the tips of your toes, out through the crown of your head, will envelop you in a cocoon of peace and compassion for you and your fellow commuters.
Yoga is not only a physical practice, but also a mental practice of bringing awareness to your life off the mat. I encourage you to embrace any and all of these tips to implement yoga into your workday as homage to you, your life, and your yoga practice.