Too busy for yoga? Jennifer Ellis, from The Yoga Wellness Company, has devised a sequence of six stretches to relieve tension and keep your body flexible without having to leave your desk…
It goes without saying that the positive effects of yoga on the mind, body and spirit have been proven for centuries. But sometimes finding the time and energy to actually do it is a little more challenging. When it comes to juggling the demands of a busy London lifestyle, it can often be hard to make time for yoga when you are Just. Too. Busy.
Fortunately, Jennifer Ellis, founder of The Yoga Wellness Company, has learnt a thing or two when it comes to motivating yourself, even when you are at your busiest.
Jennifer says: ‘We all know that sitting down for long stretches of time can wreak havoc on our health (sitting too much has been related to both high blood pressure and obesity). However, like most people, I spend lots of time sitting in front of a computer and I know first-hand how tight our bodies tend to get after a long day in the office.
As a yoga teacher living in London and a wellness enthusiast of 25 years, I try to change things up as much as I can when I’m working to give my body a break. Enter: Office Yoga!
My first tip? Don’t freak out! While whipping out a yoga mat in the middle of your office might disturb your co-workers, there are some poses that can be practised from the comfort of your desk – no yoga pants required!
This short yoga sequence is designed to do while you sit at your desk, working to help relieve stress and ease tension in the body, releasing congestion and allowing the energy to flow more freely. Try it out in front of your computer, smart phone or wherever you are!
Firstly, sit back and relax on your chair and get comfortable. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground and gently place your hands in your lap. Slowly breathe in and out, close your eyes and forget the worries of the day. Without knowing it, you’ll have unknowingly practised mindfulness for five minutes!
2) Neck flexion
Sitting up tall, place your hands behind your head and curl your head forwards, tucking in your chin. Exhale, and twist gently towards the right side. Pause at a depth of your twist where you can still keep the breath deep and full. After a comfortable two minutes, repeat on the other side. This position will relieve all tension in your back and shoulders as well as relieving deep-set aches in the neck and spine.
3) Back bend
Move your body closer to the front of the chair and ground yourself down through the soles of your feet. This will help prepare you to fully lengthen out the spine. Take a deep inhale and place both hands behind your back, palms facing down, and gently begin to push your body forwards. Lower the shoulders and then softly relax your head towards the back of the chair. This is a great adaptation of the bridge pose, best known for stimulating the abdominal organs to help improve digestion and regulate metabolism.
4) Hip opener
Keep your right foot firmly on the floor as you place your left foot on your right thigh. If this is a little uncomfortable you can strip it back by simply crossing your legs. To begin your stretch, take your right hand and very gently push down on the raised thigh. If your legs are crossed, instead use your left hand to lightly pull your ankle towards your chair. If you can, use your weight to twist your body towards the opposing shoulder. Make sure your knees are comfortable, and use your breath to create depth – you want to feel a stretch in the outer hip, but never any pain. Repeat to the other side.
5) Leg extension and ankle stretch
Still sitting on the edge of your chair, lift one leg, bend the knee and clasp it close to your body. Then lift the leg in the air and rest on your desk in front of you. Lift the kneecap and thigh muscle slightly upwards to engage the abdominal muscles – remember to choose an elevation that’s appropriate to your body. Flex the foot and activate your toes, holding your lower leg if you need to steady yourself in the pose. Inhale and sit up fully, making sure your spine is at its maximum length. Stay for 10 breaths and then do the other side, or choose to go deeper by tilting the body forwards towards your screen.
6) Reverse arm stretch
To finish off your micro yoga session, sweep your arms behind your back or chair and press your palms together, fingers pointing towards the ceiling. If you struggle to meet your palms, simply clasp the side of your wrists instead. This will totally relieve all tension in the middle of your back and shoulders and leave your body grounded and centred.