Say Goodbye to Computer Strain
One of the only reasons I have been able to remain a journalist for nearly two decades is my yoga practice. When I worked full-time as an editor and writer, yoga provided much-needed therapy to counteract sitting at a desk for eight or nine hours a day. Even as a freelancer, I often take breaks every couple of hours for a few minutes of stretching and breathing.
So whenever you're hunkered down over the computer, I encourage you to take a few of these breaks yourself and do the stretches below.
A little advice first: As with any form of physical movement, don't push too hard. If you cannot straighten a limb fully, don't force it. Find the edge of your stretch (the point where it just begins to burn but remains manageable) and try to settle into it for at least 10 breaths. You'll find that your body relaxes better when you soften into a posture. Also, if you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, make sure that your exhales are double the length of your inhales for immediate relief.
Interlaced Hands Forward Bend
Relieves … Keyboard shoulders
If you're typing all day, your shoulders tend to round forward and your upper back becomes a knot of tension. As someone who used to offer Thai yoga massage to clients, I've come across my share of impenetrable shoulder muscles.
- Standing with your feet hip-distance apart (roughly 6-8 inches), soften your knees and interlace your hands behind your back. If you cannot clasp your palms together, don't worry; just wrap your fingers together and keep your elbows slightly bent.
- Lift your forearms away from your lower back behind you, and slowly lean forward so you're bending over your legs. You can keep your knees slightly bent, unless your hamstrings allow you to go deeper into the stretch.
- Let your head literally hang off your neck so you don't grip the area you're trying to release.
- Take long, deep breaths and slowly allow your forehead to reach toward your knees. Hold for at least a minute, unless you get dizzy from bending forward.
Yoga Shoulder Openers : Yoga Hands Bound Utanasana Pose
Interlaced Hands Shoulder Stretch
Relieves … A tight back and tense shoulders
It's best to do this in front of a mirror, at least at first. This stretch is great for tight wrists and fingers.
- While standing with your feet hip-distance apart, again bend your knees and clasp your hands in front of you.
- Instead of pressing your palms together, push your palms out in front of your chest and straighten your arms.
- Slowly lift your arms above your head and push your palms up to the ceiling. Engage your abdominal muscles to protect your lower back as you do this. You want there to be space between your ears and biceps. If your shoulders tense up toward your neck, you'll lose the benefit of the posture.
- Draw your shoulder blades down your back and breathe. Hold for at least one minute.
Stress Relief Yoga : Yoga Neck Stretches for Stress Relief
Side Neck Stretch
Relieves … A tired, stiff neck
- Sit up straight in a chair and lean your right ear toward your right collarbone.
- Place your right hand over your left ear and gently pull your head to the right.
- Actively draw your left shoulder blade down your back. Since you're stretching the side of your neck, don't ever pull with a lot of force.
- Hold for 10 breaths and switch sides.
Gentle Yoga Warm Up : Yoga Neck Stretch
Relieves … Tightness from slouching
Let's face it: most of us do not maintain great posture while sitting at our desks. I'm hyperaware of my posture and still catch myself slouching. Sitting for long periods tightens our hip flexors, among other muscles. Squat pose is a natural antidote for this.
- Take your feet a little wider than your hips and, if you need to, turn your feet out.
- Slowly sit your hips back and down toward the ground. Go as far as you can without seizing up your entire body. Take precaution if you have lower back or knee issues. Sitting on a yoga block with your knees right above your feet is a more gentle way of approaching this pose.
- Place your hands together in prayer and lightly press your elbows into your inner thighs to stabilize your legs.
- Try to hold for at least one minute to begin, and lengthen the amount of time as you become accustomed to the posture.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
Over time, squatting becomes very comfortable, but at the beginning it can be torturous. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you soften into this pose.
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