Here at Off Your Mat, I focus on finding moments when the philosophy of yoga can support everyday thoughts and tasks.
There are many places on the internet where you can find a more literal interpretation of taking yoga off your mat. It has recently been explored by social media darlings like Hilaria Baldwin (pictured below). It is a wonderful thing, but not everyone is comfortable calling attention to themselves in the name of health.
This week I’m focusing on taking asanas into the workplace in a practical manner that is applicable to an everyday business.
I’m not suggesting lotus pose on your desk or back bends down the wall. That would be cool, but it might not reflect your workplace culture.
I’m addressing the moment you realize your shoulders are hunched, your brow is furrowed and you can’t remember the last time you took a deep breath. It is the moment when your mind is out of touch with your body and you need to make a connection.
Here are three simple asanas you can do to alleviate stress and support your body without creating curious inquiries from neighboring co-workers.
Attention to breath is essential to yoga practice. There are many forms of Pranayama. My favorite breathing exercise is Sama Vritti Pranayama (Equal Breath). This means inhaling and exhaling for an equal count.
Take a seated position. Ideally, your knees should be slightly lower than your hips and your eyes should be closed. Sit up straight and inhale for a count of eight. Pause when your lungs are full and then exhale for a count of eight, emptying your lungs completely. Repeat at least 3 times. You can shorten or extend the count to your comfort level.
Best time to do it: Anytime.
Suggested times: Before public speaking, after handling a customer complaint or between classes.
Benefits: Releases endorphins, relieves stress, lowers heart rate and increases focus.
Tip: Feel silly closing your eyes? Pick a singular non-moving point of focus, maybe on the wall or where the wall meets the ceiling. Let your eyes rest on that spot as you breathe.
Are you making phone calls? Stand up. Do you have hours at the keyboard ahead of you? Take a 2 minute break and stand up.
Its called Tadasana (Mountain Pose). If you are wearing high heels, slip them off. Stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides. The crown of your head and your feet should be aligned. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head pulling your spine straight. Roll your shoulders back and allow your shoulder blades to slide down your back away from your ears. Look straight ahead. Make sure your hips are slightly tucked under. Activate your quadriceps. Breathe deeply.
Best time to do it: Anytime.
Suggested times: While on the phone, at the copier, or standing in a lunch line.
Tip: Often we sit out of habit. Set a reminder on your calendar or cell phone to remind you to take Tadasana pose once every hour.
Bharadvājāsana is a seated spinal twist. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, keeping your spine straight, slowly rotate your torso to the right, placing your left hand on your right knee and planting your right hand behind your right hip. Keeping your hips facing forward, look over your right shoulder. Remember to keep your arms and spine straight, staying in the twist for at least three slow breaths. Repeat on the left side.
Best time to do it: Before lunch or an hour or so after eating.
Suggested times: Mid-morning or late afternoon. Instead of a second cup of coffee, take a twist.
Benefits: Detoxifies by massaging internal organs, improves digestion, stretches spine, shoulders, and obliques.
Tip: Recovering from a big weekend? Use spinal twists to wring out leftover toxins in your system and drink plenty of water afterwards.
Let me know your favorite workplace pose. Share in the comments or send me a tweet at @gray_sara.