If you're searching for a way to avoid the midday slump while staying away from more caffeine or sugar, consider office yoga as a solution. It doesn't just relax and stretch muscles; simple yoga poses can be energizing and help you shake the midday blues and power through the afternoon. Yoga can also loosen tight muscles bound up by hours at a computer, improving posture and overall body well-being.
Take ten minutes the next time you feel an afternoon snoozefest coming on and perform the following office yoga poses; you may be surprised by how little caffeine you need!
1. Gentle Forward Bend
Stretch your low back, neck and lats with this simple bent forward pose. With your feet planted firmly on the ground, gently round forward, resting your belly on your thighs. Let your arms drape to the ground, or cross them and grab each opposite elbow. Let your head hang loosely, resisting the urge to look up. Breathe purposefully, as this pose can constrict your lungs somewhat - aim to breathe into your back, feeling your lungs and ribs expand through your back muscles.
2. Seated Mountain Pose
Interlace your fingers above your head and stretch your arms skyward. Pay close attention to your shoulders and shoulder blades - the tendency here is to let the shoulders rise into the ears. Roll your shoulders down and lay your shoulderblades low and flat against your back as you reach gently upward. Maintain a neutral neck and gaze softly forward. Ensure your feet are firmly on the ground, a few inches to shoulder width apart.
3. Seated Twist
Again, keep your feet planted firmly on the ground as you situate your body to be facing to the side of your chair. With a tall spine and shoulders rolled back, like in Seated Mountain Pose, ensure your tailbone is firmly "glued" to your seat as you gently twist to one side, using the back of your office chair for stability. Breathe deeply while keeping your shoulders back and chest forward. Turn back forward, take a few breaths, and then perform the pose on the opposite side of your body.
4. Chair Assisted Warrior
Stretch your hips and legs with this pose. Place one foot on your chair (no wheeled chairs, please!) while the other remains on the floor, about three to four feet between them, toes facing forward. Twist from the hips as you turn to aim your upper body over your bent leg. Lean gently into your bent leg as you raise your arms to shoulder height. Turn your neck gently to look over your fingertips, and remember to breathe all the while. Avoid the tendency to excessively arch your lower back by pointing your tailbone downward. Perform several breaths on each side.
5. Chair Assisted Chest Opening
Use the back of your chair (or your desk, depending on your height) to perform this deep chest and lat opening pose. With your feet together and firmly on the ground behind your office chair, keep a gentle bend in your knee as you lean forward. Place your upper arms just above the elbow on your chair back and roll your shoulder blades down your back. Let your heart fall toward the floor and keep your neck neutral - let your arms cradle your head. You'll likely feel a stretch in your hamstrings as well, so be sure to keep your knees bent!
These poses are accessible for virtually any able-bodied person, and will counteract some of the tightening and poor-posture habits that can form when doing hours of desk work. Take 10 minutes out of your afternoon to experiment with this easy routine, and let us know if it helps keep you energized and awake!