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Many of us have a job that requires sitting at a desk in front of a computer for extended periods of time. By nature, our bodies want to move; we want to feel good. In our busy culture, yoga has become more popular to help with reducing stress and anxiety. This article will explore taking time throughout the day to care of yourself and will help you reach your natural state of happiness by having compassion for others.
EXERCISES. Taking time to move your body during the day helps to keep you focused and fresh. These simple exercises can be done at your desk throughout the day. The key is to perform these movements mindfully and frequently. Hold each position for 2-3 breaths.
CIRCLES. Slowly circle your wrists and ankles, alternating with rotations and slight flexion. For your neck, move cautiously from right to left.
MASSAGE. Take a few minutes to massage your hands and forearms and neck. One body part we tend to easily miss is our ears, yet we get great benefits from an ear massage. The Chinese have used ear reflexology for thousands of years to address many types of health issues within the body. By simply rubbing, pulling, or gently twisting your ears, you will stimulate energy points that run throughout your body, creating a sense of freshness and relaxation.
STRETCHING. While at your desk, clasp your hands together and raise them above your head, reaching tall. Hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds. Then repeat the process from side to side.
YOGA POSES. Yes, you can do yoga poses at your desk and around the office while not drawing much attention. Your coworkers just may join you.
CHILD’S POSE: Fold your head, relaxing the back of your neck over your knees with your hands clasped behind your legs or lightly dangling by your sides.
CAT/COW: With feet on the floor and sitting with your hands on your knees, on the inhale, arch the back and look upwards. On the exhale, round the spine and let your head drop forward.
SEATED SPINAL TWIST: Using your chair, sit up tall, put your hands on either the back of your chair or the arm rest and twist to each side.
HIP STRETCH: Place your right foot on the floor directly under your right knee. Place your left ankle over your right knee and flex your foot. Inhale and sit up tall to lengthen your lower back and, on the exhale, slightly lean forward feeling a stretch in your left hip. Repeat on the other side.
WALKING. Make an effort to get up from your desk each hour, even if it’s only for a bathroom break. Take time to focus on breathing and mindfully walking and stretching.
BREATHING. Many of us forget to breathe during the day. Yes, you are breathing to stay alive, yet are you really focusing on how taking a few long, slow breaths can bring you back to a present moment reality and help calm you down? There is an old Japanese fable in which a man gets hit by a car. It was his practice to breathe 10 times before any reactions. After getting hit by the car, he took 10 breaths, smiled and walked away.
The next time you find yourself stressed, upset at a co-worker, about to scream, wanting to hide under your desk or just go home sick—take a moment to breathe. Focus on a deep inhale and a slow exhale. There are numerous types of complicated breathing techniques yet, at work, just having an awareness of your breath and taking a few mindful breaths will calm you down in any situation. And remember the Japanese man; it will put a smile on your face.
LISTENING WITH COMPASSION. We all have times when we get caught up in “I am right,” and blaming others for our feelings. Yet, we all want to be happy and enjoy our relationships both at work and outside of work. Taking the time to have compassion for others can help you navigate through your busy lives. Thupten Jinpa, a Tibetan scholar and English translator for the Dalai Lama, defined compassion as such:
“A mental state endowed with a sense of concern for the suffering of others and aspiration to see that suffering relieved.” Jinpa notes that compassion has three components: Understanding others, empathizing with them, and helping them. Th e next time you find yourself getting upset with someone, take a moment to find some compassionate understanding of how they feel. Work to truly listen when people are talking to you. When someone is talking to you, make eye contact, smile and show you are listening and engaged. It is easy to want to chime in and give your take on a situation; however, taking the time to fully and actively listen can help you really understand what the other person is trying to portray. You will find your relationships improve when you actively listen and mindfully take time to respond versus reacting on your interactions with others.
In closing, it is important to remember: you create your life and how you feel. Change starts at the individual level. Take time to nurture and care for yourself. And as Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist said, “Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
KERRY WEKELO ELAM
Kerry is the Director of Operations at Actualize Consulting where her Leadership Training program has successfully influenced a teamwork environment at some of the world’s largest companies. She teaches yoga regularly at Beloved Yoga and is the author of “Audrey’s Journey,” a children’s book series focused on compassion and joy. www.allisawesome.com
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