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Yoga Desktop

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Yoga Desktop

We once believed the computer would ease our workloads, but it hasn’t turned out that way. Office workers have had to learn how to multitask. The workers left behind after downsizing have to do the work of three; consequently, nothing gets done properly and stress leave is routine.

We once believed the computer would ease our workloads, but it hasn’t turned out that way. Office workers have had to learn how to multitask. The workers left behind after downsizing have to do the work of three; consequently, nothing gets done properly and stress leave is routine.

We are bombarded daily with emails for everything from indecipherable memos from colleagues to unsolicited offers of $20 gold watches that leave attractive green stains on your wrist. When you throw in a micromanaging supervisor intent on finding any excuse to fire you, you may find yourself trotting off to the doctor to apply for stress leave.

People feel stress in different ways. Some feel it in their stomachs, and some in their heads. I store it in my muscles, particularly my neck and shoulder muscles. If I don’t relieve it through exercise or stretching, I get a pain in the neck.

Before reaching for the disability forms, or trying to pry off the childproof lid on that bottle of ibuprofen, there may be another way: introducing desktop yoga.

Peace at the PC

Yoga is a spiritual practice that increases awareness and self-knowledge. The exercises (breathing, stretching, and poses) can lead to greater physical and mental freedom and to greater control over the body and thought processes. People usually think of yoga as something done in open spaces, but desktop yoga can help reduce stress.

This doesn’t mean you need to spend 20 minutes a day spread-eagled in front of the photocopier or standing on your head next to the water cooler. Beverley West, content writer for the popular employment website monster.com, proposes some simple yoga exercises that can be done at a desk. After interviewing a yoga instructor, West describes two useful exercises. One is breathing:

“Breathe deeply into the bottom of your stomach (diaphragm), watching as your belly expands like a balloon. Your shoulders might even crack as new air replaces the old. Then breathe out slowly. Repeat this process for at least one minute. Close your eyes if you can, and try to take deeper, slower and longer breaths every time.”

I’ve tried this–it works. It is also part of a technique we learn in first aid. Rather than having a patient breathe into a paper bag, we tell them, “Breathe in for two and out for one-two-three-four.”

The Cat Pose in the Chair

“Sit on the edge of your chair, resting your hands on your knees,” West writes. “Rock your spine forward, squeezing your shoulders forward as you create a slump in your back. Hold the position for a second or two, and then sit up tall, bringing your shoulders all the way down. Repeat this process until you feel your back relax.”

If your chair is on casters, make sure there’s a wall behind you: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The action of moving forward causes the chair to drift backwards. Clients might form the wrong impression, seeing a room filled with office-chair bumper cars gliding slowly about the office.

Preventive Practice

Desktop yoga can also be used to prevent office disabilities such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Bring your palms together in front of your chest in a prayer position, stretching the fingers. Slowly stretch the heel of your palms down until they’re level with your wrists. Gradually increase the stretch by moving the hands over to the right and the left, holding for a few breaths. Observe the sensations in your forearm and wrist.

As a final word of caution, before you attempt a headstand next to the water cooler, make sure your glasses aren’t perched on your forehead.

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