With the COVID-19 pandemic, many areas of our lives have become virtual – especially work. More and more people are working or going to school from home, which means that they spend extended periods of time at the computer.
Standing in front of a screen all day can be a bit disoriented and make us feel disconnected from our bodies. Taking a few minutes here and there to get some exercise into your body will make you feel more present and ultimately more productive.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling “too busy” to practice yoga, but allowing just a little time to get back into your body will actually help free up more space in your mind and create in your day.
We’re here to give you some simple yoga postures and poses to incorporate into your work day.
First things first – are you breathing? With the stress of working from home, we sometimes literally forget to breathe.
Mindful breathing and breathing exercises will help re-oxygenate all parts of your body, especially your brain. If you feel fuzzy after staring at the computer for too long, breathing exercises can help clear this up. It also helps lower cortisol levels and relieve stress.
Read this article on breath work, for some detailed explanations of two invigorating and calming yoga breathing exercises.
Here is a simple breathing exercise that only takes a few moments and can be done from your work chair.
- Put your feet flat on the ground and feel the earth below you.
- Close your eyes and put one hand on your stomach and one on your heart.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and fill your stomach first, then your lungs, and then your chest.
- Exhale in reverse, starting with your chest, then your lungs, then your stomach.
- Repeat as long as you have time.
- Tip: One way to deepen this practice is to use your breath to fill the pelvic bowl and circulate to the crown of your head.
You can use yoga wisdom to create an ergonomic environment at your desk as a preventive measure against pain.
- Elevate Your Sit Bones: Try sitting on a pillow, rolled blanket, or pouffe. This prevents your hip flexors from contracting, which can lead to back pain.
- “Stack Your Bones”: Yoga poses are based on the philosophy of “Stacking Your Bones”. This means that you orient yourself in a way that ensures stability and flexibility. You can practice this at your desk by making sure you’re not huddled together in weird positions and by keeping your spine up with your shoulders back.
- Make sure your screen is at eye level. This way you don’t look down all the time, which can lead to neck tension.
Move your body
If you have the time, here is a simple five minute yoga flow to help you move your body and energy.
Feel free to add intuitive movements to this flow and stay in certain poses for as long as you feel called to do so.
- Start on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders and hips above your knees. Spread your fingers wide apart to support your upper body. You can put a blanket under your knees if you have knee pain.
- Inhale to raise your heart, head, and tailbone, and lower your stomach.
- Exhale to drop your head and tailbone, lift your spine and gently pull your belly button in.
- Once you become comfortable with the movement, you can move by bending one elbow and then the other and moving intuitively.
- Go on for a minute or as long as you need.
- Keeping your hands and feet by the kitty where they are, exhale to push into the balls of your feet and squeeze your pelvis into a downward facing dog sometimes called a triangle pose.
- Keep your fingers wide apart, with your middle finger pointing towards the front of your mat and toes spread evenly to stabilize your lower body.
- Roll your shoulders down towards your shoulder blades and release the tension in your neck.
- From here, you can bend both knees to find an extension through your torso, or one knee and then the other for a side stretch.
- Take ten deep breaths through your nose. Feel free to sigh your mouth or make any noises that pop up.
- From the right dog, inhale your right leg up and reach straight back, but not up.
- Breathe in and out here.
- Inhale again, then exhale to bring your knee towards your chest and place your foot between your hands. It’s perfectly fine if you need to fumble around a bit or move your foot up.
- Pull your toes back to protect your knee and inhale to move your torso up and bring your arms above your head, interlocking your fingers outward and upward with both index fingers.
- Make sure that your front knee is stacked above your ankle and not falling in or out.
- Sink into your pelvis, take a deep breath, and continue expanding across your chest and heart.
- Hold for at least five breaths, then go back to the downward facing dog and switch sides.
- Inhale and exhale with the downward facing dog to move up a high plank.
- Slowly lower yourself toward the floor by bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle, pointing toward your ribs, and your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
- When you hit the floor, rest your legs on your mat and press on them with your hands under your shoulders to inhale and bring your chest, heart, and head into a cobra pose or a gentle back bend.
- Take a few deep breaths here, then step back into the downward facing dog.
- From the downward facing dog, carefully walk your feet towards your hands and stop when you get there.
- With your feet shoulder-width apart, stay in a forward crease.
- You can bend one knee and then the other. With your back bent, try bending both knees until you feel an extension of your spine.
- Inhale to curl up to stand, raise your arms to the sky, bend back gently, and then exhale to come back into your front crease.
- Repeat three times.
- You can also choose a seated forward fold.
At the end of the day, yoga means “egg yolk” or harmony between body and mind. Yoga for you may involve a mindful walk or a few minutes of dancing. Exercise is always encouraged, especially after you’ve sat in front of a computer for hours.
Natasha’s passion for reproductive health began at the age of fourteen when she was present at the birth of her youngest sister. Her incredible experiences as a birthing doula gave her insights into the magical realm of childbirth, pregnancy and everything in between. Your role as an obstetrician is her way of serving as an activist. She uses writing as an important educational tool to bring about changes in our view of reproductive health as a whole.