More chances than not you will find someone who is on the computer, and sitting for at least a few hours a day, often leading to what most call “computer posture.”
Around 80% of people in the Western world have jobs that do not require any level of physical exertion. We have so many devices and contraptions designed to make our lives easier and save us time, but instead of getting up and active, we are all spending more and more time sitting immobile in front of a machine.
Biologically we’re not designed to sit for a long periods of time. The pressure we put on our hips all day slowly decreases the blood flow to the lower body, which results in disconnection between the upper and lower halves both physically and spiritually. The position we place our arms in while we are typing away also tends to create a bit of a slump in our spine as the shoulders round forward. This leads to a sunken chest, which in turn leads to blocking of the heart chakras. We need these to be open so we can engage wholeheartedly in our relationships and receive all the good the world has to offer.
You can counteract the adverse effects of computer posture with the right yoga poses. Incorporate these simple yoga poses into your work day and you can combat the bad posture that comes as a result of office work. Or better yet, hit up a yoga retreat once in awhile to completely reset of your mind, soul, body and posture.
Lengthen that spine and let the stresses of your day melt away by bringing your attention to the breath. This pose relieves the whole back which may have been contracting from sitting down all day. You can use the breath to either release tension in the spine or bring life to the back – whichever you feel you need on the day.
Get on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders, and your knees directly below the hips. Take a breath in and press strongly into your palms to arch the back, until you feel the stretch all the way from the upper shoulders to the base of the spine. Exhale and drop the belly, drawing the heart and chin forward.
This yoga pose may look simple, but tadasana requires the whole body to be engaged. Be mindful of the feet, tailbone and neck especially.
Place your feet underneath your hips, and ground down into the earth. With the idea that your feet are firmly planted and rooting strongly into the floor, let the spine lengthen and upper body unfurl with your palms facing forward. Your head should be travelling away from your shoulders. Try to lengthen the base of the spine by pulling it towards the ground, instead of letting it arch into a duck’s butt shape.
For a stronger variation that opens the chest, raise your hands and press the palms together. Lifting the heart to the sky and keeping the neck in line with the spine, release backwards into a gentle backbend.
The arch of this asana counteracts the slump that so many of us get from sitting at a desk and looking at a computer all day. Be sure to go gently into cobra if your spine is very stiff.
Lying with your forehead on the ground, place your hands by your chest near the shoulders. Keep your feet slightly apart and press the tops of the feet into the ground. Take an exhale, and on the inhale use your back strength to lift your chest off the ground, pressing with the hands to gently lift your upper body off the ground. Keep pressing down with the hands and keep the elbows slightly bent; push the chest forward and up. Try to lift your head and neck away from the shoulders without straining too much. The head should lift upward and back, facing towards the ceiling if the neck feels supported – if not, facing the front is fine. Don’t forget to keep the legs engaged!
Use your upward facing dog pose to focus on opening the heart and bringing the neck away from the shoulders. There aren’t many poses better for releasing the shoulders and the neck while encouraging a proud, open heart centre.
Lay down with your legs hip width apart, and hands underneath the shoulders. Push up on an exhale. Try to keep the hips pressing onto the ground, the back of the spine pressing forward, and the neck in line with the spine. Draw the chin slightly down to keep the neck in the right position, and press the hands strongly down so that the neck travels away from the shoulders while the heart opens forward.
Stronger than Cobra and Upward Facing Dog, this is the ultimate in anti-slump yoga poses.
Go into cobra pose as outlined above. Once there, bend the knees and try to reach your head back to touch your toes. By sinking the hips down and bringing the chest forward, your heart will open and your head and feet will come closer together. Only practice this variation if you feel comfortable in Cobra or Upward Facing Dog.
Open up your heart and draw the shoulders away from that telltale office job hunch. Fish pose is also great for releasing tension in the neck – often something we build up in computer posture.
Sit on your hands with the palms placed on the floor. While propped on the forearms, gently lower your head until it touches the ground with your chest thrusted behind you. Relax here, continually drawing the chin back and keeping the chest open.
This asana releases so much of the damage that desk sitting does to us. It’s considered an inversion as the hips are above the heart. It brings new blood flow to the brain, engages the core, and releases tightness in the back of the legs.
Come onto your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Keep the knees bent if your hamstrings are tight. Do not compromise length in the spine for straight knees. Push your top thighs back and stretch your heels toward the floor.
This pose is excellent for bringing some fresh life into your hips; it can feel like a godsend if your hips have tightened during your day of deadening sitting.
From a downward facing dog or table top position, bring a bent leg underneath you so it lands roughly in line with your elbow. Sink the hips down as much as possible. Make your way down to rest over the top of your thigh with the arms stretched forward, trying to relax into the deep stretch, and focus your attention on any tightness in the hips. This is called reclined pigeon pose. Moving up, place your palms either side of the hips, try to sink the hips low, and lengthen your spine to the sky, raising the arms if you feel like more of a challenge. Sink forward again, and notice how different the stretch feels from the first time you went down. Raise and repeat on the other side – hold each pose for 8-10 breaths.
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