Sitting at a desk all day can be tough on the body, especially the neck, shoulders, wrists, hips, hamstrings and lower back. In my previous article “Yoga at Your Desk: Staying Open In Tight Places (Part One),” we focused on releasing tension in the upper back and shoulders as well as opening the hips and hamstrings. In this article we’ll look at elongating the side body, opening the neck, twisting the spine and stretching out your wrists!
After sitting for long periods of time our torsos shorten and shoulders end up near our ears, while our lower backs are susceptible to pain due to tight hips and hamstrings. If you spend many hours at a computer using a keyboard you may find you experience discomfort in the wrists and forearms. Below we’ll work on opening and finding relief in these areas.
1. Lengthen Your Side Body
A) While Sitting
When sitting in a chair for long periods of time, we tend to round our spine and shorten our side body. To counterbalance the scrunching of your torso, interlace your fingers overhead and rotate your palms to face the ceiling. On an exhale, press you palms toward the ceiling without lifting your shoulders, pull your lower abdomen in and up, lifting up out of both sides of the waist. Stay here or lean to the right and then to the left for an extra stretch. Hold for a few cycles of breath.
B) While Standing
Stand about one foot behind your chair, and turn so the left side of your body is facing the back of the chair. Place your left hand on top of the chair back. Step your feet together and reach your right arm up to the ceiling. Take the right arm overhead, right palm facing down and lean your hips to the right. Your left elbow can be bend but don’t collapse your chest. As you reach the right arm up and overhead, slightly rotate your chest up toward the ceiling without rotating your hips; As your twist builds, make sure you don’t shrug your shoulders. Hold here for a few cycles of breath.
2) Stretch Your Neck
Sit on the edge of your chair, feet flat on the floor, hip distance apart. With your right hand hold onto the right side of your chair seat, take your left hand overheard and touch your right ear. Tilt your left ear toward your left shoulder. Keep holding onto the chair and press your right sit bone into the chair as you lean your upper body to your left, stretching out the right side of your neck. Hold here for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
3) Wring Out Your Spine
Sit on the edge of your seat, feet hip distance apart. Depending on what type of chair you have, take your right hand either the right armrest, back of chair seat or top of the chair. Take your left hand to the outside your right knee. Sink your sit bones into the chair, lift you chest, and on your next exhale, starting at the base of your spine, turn your torso to the right. Hold for 10-45 seconds and change to the other side.
4) Stretch Your Wrists and Forearms
A) Open the Inside of Your Wrists
Stand facing your desk. Place your hands shoulder distance apart at the edge of the desk, palms down. Rotate your hands until your fingers are facing toward you. Make sure you keep the heels of your hands grounded on the desk and your arms straight; and walk your feet back until you feel a stretch on the inside of your wrists and forearms.
B) Open the Outside of Your Wrists
Do the same set up as above, but place the backs of your hands on the desk, palms facing up, fingers pointing toward your body. Walk your feet back until you feel a stretch on the back of your wrists and forearms.
About the Author:
Laura Burkhart is a 500 E-RYT Yoga Tree teacher who also teaches corporate clients and online through Yoga Vibes and Grokker. Laura’s creative and intelligently sequenced flow classes are known for being challenging, with a smooth and rhythmic flow. She has modeled in numerous Yoga Journal online videos, was spotlighted inOrigin Magazine, and was the June 2010 master class model for Yoga Journal Magazine. Laura worked as the Yoga Director at the San Francisco Bay Club’s Mind/Body Center and now dedicates her time to her students and her philanthropic company, Yoga Reach International. Yoga Reach International is a company that helps communities in need, both locally and internationally, through donations and hand-on projects.