With the COVID-19 pandemic, many areas of our lives have shifted to being virtual – especially work. More and more people are working or going to school from home, which means being at a computer for long periods of time.
Being in front of a screen all day can be a bit disorienting, and cause us to feel disconnected from our bodies. Taking a few minutes here and there to bring some movement into your body will help you feel more present, and ultimately – more productive.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling “too busy” to practice Yoga, but setting aside just a little bit of time to get back into your body, will actually help create more spaciousness in your mind, and your day.
We’re here to give you a few simple Yoga practices and poses to incorporate into your workday.
First things first – are you breathing? With the stress of balancing working from home, sometimes we quite literally forget to breathe.
Mindful breathing and breathwork practices help to reoxygenate all parts of your body, especially the brain. If you tend to feel fuzzy after staring at the computer for too long, breathing exercises can help clear that. It also helps to lower cortisol levels, and manage any stress you’re experiencing.
Check out this article on breathwork, for some detailed explanations of two invigorating and calming Yogic breathing exercises.
Here’s a simple breathing exercise that only takes a few moments, and can be done from your work chair.
- Place your feet flat on the ground, and feel the Earth beneath you.
- Close your eyes, placing one hand on your belly, one on your heart.
- Take a deep inhale through your nose, filling your belly first, then your lungs, then chest.
- Exhale the opposite way starting from your chest, then lungs, then belly.
- Repeat for as long as you have time.
- Tip: One way to deepen this practice is by working towards using your breath to fill up your pelvic bowl, and circulating up to the crown of your head.
You can use Yogic wisdom to create an ergonomic setting at your desk, as a preventative measure against aches and pains.
- Elevate your sit bones: Try sitting on a pillow, rolled blanket, or seat cushion. This will keep your hip flexors from clenching, which can cause lower back pain.
- “Stack your bones”: Yoga poses are based on the philosophy of “stacking your bones”, which means aligning yourself in a way that allows for stability and flexibility. You can practice this at your desk by ensuring you aren’t scrunched up in any weird positions, and keeping your spine elevated, with your shoulders back.
- Make sure your screen is at eye level. That way you won’t be constantly looking down, which can create neck tension.
Move Your Body
Finally, if you have time, here is a simple five minute Yoga flow that you can use to move your body, and your energy.
Feel free to add intuitive movements into this flow, and stay in certain poses as long as you are feeling called to.
- Start on your hands and knees, with your hands underneath your shoulders, and hips over your knees. Spread your fingers wide to support your upper body. You can place a blanket under your knees if you have any knee pain.
- Inhale to lift your heart, head, and tailbone, letting your belly sink.
- Exhale to drop your head and tailbone, lifting your spine up, and pulling your belly button in slightly.
- As you get comfortable with the movement, you can move around by bending one elbow then the other and moving intuitively.
- Keep going for a minute, or as long as you need.
- From cat-cow, keep your hands and feet where they are, and exhale to press into the balls of your feet, pushing your pelvis into downward-facing dog, sometimes called triangle pose.
- Keep your fingers spread wide, with your middle finger pointed towards the front of your mat, and toes spread evenly to stabilize your lower body.
- Roll your shoulders down towards your shoulder blades, dropping any tension in your neck.
- From here, you can bend both knees to find lengthening through your torso, or one knee then the other for a side stretch.
- Stay for ten deep breaths, in and out through the nose. Feel free to sigh out your mouth or make any noises that come up.
- From downward dog, inhale your right leg up, reaching straight back, but not up.
- Inhale and exhale here.
- Inhale again, then exhale to bring your knee in towards your chest, and place your foot between your hands. It’s totally ok if you fumble a bit, or need to wiggle your foot up.
- Tuck your back toes to protect your knee, and inhale, to move your torso up, and bring your arms overhead, interlacing your fingers, with both index fingers out and up.
- Make sure your front knee is stacked over your ankle, and not collapsing in or out.
- Sink into your pelvis, breathe deeply, continue to expand across your chest and heart.
- Stay for at least five breaths, then go back to downward dog and switch sides.
- Take an inhale in downward dog, exhale to move forward into a high plank.
- Slowly lower yourself towards the ground by bending your elbows to a ninety degree angle, with them facing in towards your ribs, and your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
- Once you reach the ground, keep your legs resting on your mat, and with your hands under your shoulders, press into them to inhale and bring your chest, heart, and head up into a cobra pose, or gentle backbend.
- Take a few deep breaths here then move back into downward facing dog.
- From downward dog, mindfully walk your feet up towards your hands, stopping when you get there.
- With your feet shoulder width apart, stay in a forward fold.
- You can bend one knee then the other. If your back is hunched, try bending both knees until you feel lengthening in your spine.
- Inhale to roll yourself up to standing, bringing your arms up to the sky, taking a gentle backbend, then exhale to come back into your forward fold.
- Repeat three times.
- You can also choose to do a seated forward fold.
At the end of the day, Yoga means “to yolk”, or to find harmony between the mind and body. Yoga for you may involve a mindful walk, or a few minutes of dancing. Movement is always encouraged, especially after you’ve been sitting at a computer for hours on end.
Natasha’s passion for reproductive health began at age fourteen, when she was present for the birth of her youngest sister. Her incredible experiences as a birth doula, has given her hands on insight into the magical realm of birth, pregnancy, and all things in between. Her role as a birth worker, is her way of serving as an activist. She uses writing as a key educational tool for creating change in how we view reproductive health as a whole.