Sitting at a desk all day is not only bad for your health but can lead to tense, hunched shoulders and also back pain. So what’s the antidote? With almost 90,000 deaths a year caused by inactivity during 9 to 5 office jobs, the advice is to exercise for an hour per day to offset this. For many, this just isn’t feasible, but not to worry because the UK’s leading Jivamukti Yoga instructor, Durga Devi, has put together the best five exercises to release tension caused by sitting at a desk all day.
If you find yourself with shoulders up to your ears and knots in your neck, then take a moment to follow these instructions each day. It’s a lot cheaper than a massage or appointment with an osteopath!
- Sit upright in your chair with your feet shoulder width apart and flat on the floor, relax your shoulders, place hands at the naval centre, fingers apart, close your eyes, take a slow deep breath in through your nose and feel your belly expand outward like a balloon and on a slow exhale feel the belly draw inwards. Repeat 10 times. (Your mouth should be closed throughout).
- Move your hands to the widest part of your outer rib cage and breath in so that the rib cage expands out to the sides and on an exhale the rib cage draws in. Repeat 10 times.
- Move your hands to your upper chest, just below the collar bone (it is important that your chest is lifted and elbows and shoulders are relaxed) – on an inhale feel your upper chest lift and on an exhale upper chest draws in. Repeat 10 times.
This will start to release tension throughout your body.
2. Shoulder Rolls
- Remain seated, facing forward with your feet flat on floor, hands to thighs, inhale and roll your shoulders up towards your ears,
- exhale and role your shoulders back behind you so the shoulder blades come to meet closer in the upper spine. Repeat 5 times.
- This will loosen your shoulders and release tension.
3. Seated Twist
Keeping your feet flat on the floor, hips squared off and even, place your left hand outside right mid-thigh, twist to the right placing right hand on top of chair back, inhale lengthen spine, push right hip forward and exhale looking over right shoulder. On an inhale, return to centre and repeat on other side. Take 5 breaths each side. This will release tension in the lower back.
4. Forward Bending Shoulder Opener
- Standing upright, gaze straight ahead with your chin parallel to the floor, keeping the back of your neck long and your feet wider than hip width apart, arms behind your back and interlace your fingers, draw your arms away from you – hold the posture for 10 breaths (make sure your shoulders are still relaxed). This will release tension in your shoulders.
- Keeping your arms away from your back, inhale, lift your chest, look up at ceiling. On an exhale start to bend your knees and to slowly fold forward over your legs, keeping your knees softly bent. Draw your arms up and over your head, let your head and neck relax – on an inhale bend your knees deeply, lift your chest and look up, on an exhale fold forwards, extend your legs as your arms draw up and over the head. Repeat 5 times. This will release tension in your shoulders and upper back.
5. Low Cobra Stretch
Lay face down on your belly with your forehead on the floor, you’re your elbows, place your hands on the floor behind your shoulders, elbows squeezed in close to the body, squeeze your legs together, press hips, legs and all ten toe nails into the floor. Lengthen your lower back towards heals, lift chest gently upward as you roll your shoulders back elbows squeezing in. Take 5 breaths. This strengthens lower back and will release tension in your neck.
Do you have any stretches of your own which we can add to our five exercises to release tension caused by sitting at a desk all day? We’d love to hear from you!
Experience more of Durga Devi’s teachings on Chaya’s magical yoga retreat in Goa, 12 – 21 March http://www.chayayogaretreats.com Durga also teaches at London’s leading yoga centre triyoga throughout the week https://triyoga.co.uk