After a string of long days at the office, it’s likely that you’re feeling drained in mind, body, and soul. But even more so, average days can begin to wear on you. And especially when performing repetitive tasks like typing and mousing. Before long, you can find yourself hunched over your desk, your wrists tingling with pain, and your mind on anything but the task at hand. You could most certainly benefit from Yoga at the office.
Yoga can be a great way to combat this kind of pain and burnout, but it’s not exactly like most of us can pull out a nice lotus move in our cubicles without anyone noticing. No worries. In this guide, we’ll propose a number of discreet ways to get your office yoga on, so that you can find a little more peace in limb and mind as you type the day away.
How to Sneak Your Yoga In At the Office
1. Do it on your lunch break
If the bulk of your office mates head out on the town for lunch, that makes for a particularly private time to do yoga in the office. If not, then this might make for a great time to head to a local gym or even to your car to stretch or do breathing exercises in private.
2. Convert the break room into an exercise room
In most offices, there’s that one room that no one can quite find a use for. Maybe it’s a break room that’s not particularly well-stocked. Maybe it’s a cubicle space that no one much wants. Whatever that empty space is, ask your employer if it can be used as a mini-exercise room, where employees can go for a quick stretch break. Or even just to lay out on a mat and re-center themselves after a stressful meeting.
3. Go beyond stretches
In popular culture, we tend to think of yoga solely as those pretzel-like poses in which masterful yogis place their feet behind their heads. But physical side of yoga is just one small part of it. In fact, yoga also emphasizes both mental and spiritual clarity. There are a number of breathing and mental exercises you can do at your desk to help you calm down and focus. All without even your colleague in the cubicle next door being any wise.
4. Keep your stretches small
Again, you don’t have to do big, attention-catching stretches to see benefits from yoga. Instead, opt for smaller stretches and poses that can be done even in your chair. Here are a few of our favorites.
Five Go-To Exercises to do at Your Desk
1. Seated Twist
Raise yourself up so that you are sitting in the middle of your chair. Your back should be nice and straight, and not supported by your backrest. Your feet should be flat on the ground, and should be hip-length apart. Turn your body to the right, holding the your right knee with your left hand and the bottom of your chair with your right hand. Exhale as you stretch your body upwards. Turn back to the center, and repeat this several times before doing the same thing on the other side, pushing yourself to go a little further each time.
2. Seated Backbend
For the seated backbend, start by moving to the very edge of your chair. Wrap your hands around the back of your seat, pull your shoulders back, and push your chest towards the ceiling, letting your head fall backwards as you do so. Exhale and inhale several times. Repeat this five to ten times.
3. Neck Stretch
The neck stretch is the subtlest one on our list. Sitting straight up in the middle of your chair with your feet flat on the ground, raise your left arm over your head and let it rest on your right ear. Pull your head to your shoulder, while relaxing your shoulders. Breathe in and out five to ten times, before doing the same thing on the other side.
4. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing exercises like the ones listed here will calm you to your core and refocus your energy. One simple exercise even a beginner can do is the Sama Vittri, or Equal Breathing, exercise. To do this, simply inhale through your nose for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of four. Up your count as you get better to further relax your mind and soul.
5. Meditation Breaks
Instead of checking your email during breaks from work, turn your back to your devices. Close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations of your mind and body. When your thoughts inevitably start to drift, bring them back again to these sensations. If anything stressful comes up, try to let visualize letting it go. Now is not the time to solve anything or to feel catharsis. Just be present in the moment.
Three Great Yoga Apps
You’re not alone in your yogic journey. In fact, there are many wonderful yoga apps out there, and even more to help you sneak yoga into your routine, just as you’ll have to in the office setting. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Pocket Yoga (iOS, Android, $2.99)
With Pocket Yoga, you can pick your setting as well as your goals — and “office” is one of them. Once you pick your goals, such as detox versus power-yoga, your cartoon instructor will lead you through your poses to the tune either of the in-app music or that of your own choosing. The shortest workout here is 30-minutes, so this would be best for lunchtime yoga.
2. Yoga Studio (iOS, $3.99)
Featuring a dictionary of over 280 poses, an in-depth progress tracker, and the ability to create your own downloadable video classes, you’ll find everything you need with Yoga Studio. Routines can go as low as 10-minutes, so this is the perfect app for a mid-morning break.
3. FitStar Yoga (iOS, free with additional subscription available)
Designed by yoga guru Tara Stiles, this highly rated yoga app gets thumbs up from users for many reasons, particularly the many personalization options available. Perhaps neatest of all, the app integrates with Jawbone UP, MyFitnessPal, and Fitbit, so this is a great option when you’re looking for your app to plugin to a total fitness solution.
What Does This Really Mean?
It may not seem that yoga and the office go hand-in-hand, but there are plenty of ways to practice discreetly while on the job. Taking the time to rejuvenate, re-center, and stretch will help you refocus for the tasks at hand, so that you can thrive at work. If that’s not worth a little lotus time, we don’t know what is!
Still, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also take some time to discuss the greater workplace picture. Office yoga is well worth the effort and the time. But the last thing you want to do is undo all of that great work the moment you sit down at your desk. Whether it’s a desk that’s too tall, a screen that causes you to hunch, or a keyboard that forces your hands to splay, putting pressure on your wrists, elbows, and upper body, your work space is riddled with counterproductive hazards. Goldtouch products, like our split ergonomic keyboard, ergonomic mice, and tablet and laptop stands, can help mitigate or even eliminate the pain related to Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) and a lifetime of bad office habits.