For many people, reality consists of sitting behind a desk for hours a day, encouraging poor posture and decreased circulation. However, the office yogi finds time to fit in some mild flexibility training throughout, whether 10 minutes on the break room floor or periodic micro-poses while still seated. Besides contributing to a more relaxed yet focused state of being, increasing productivity, doing yoga during the workday can alleviate lower back pain and promote a healthier body. As ever, doing a little yoga often is superior to doing a lot of yoga every now and then.
Some of the most beneficial poses are also some of the simplest, meaning that the conscientious yogi can perform them without appearing especially unordinary to others in the vicinity. Many people in the world today recognize the benefits and advantages to yoga and, as long as it is contained to the proper time and area, would not be bothered by its practice in the workplace. Avoiding rapid sequences and intense poses will prevent most yogis from breaking an unattractive sweat, though it is important to know your own body.
Seek to enlighten
An easy-to-manage spinal twist that helps the back and neck is called matsyendrasana. Sitting with your back straight and your legs extended, bring in your right leg as if sitting in lotus position and cross your left leg over it, placing your left foot on the floor outside the middle of your right thigh. Inhaling, place your right arm across your left thigh, forearm rising vertically with an open palm, and rotate your torso to the left, slowly exhaling as you raise your left arm up above your head and over, turning your neck to face left and placing your left hand on the ground. Focus on being thankful for the past before repeating the twist on the right side, focused on being excited for the future.
You may also want to briefly hold a few plank positions, though extended time will lead to perspiration. Standing, a short, mild, sequence that will stimulate the lower back in addition to improving balance consists of triangle, half moon, and tree. Start with your feet about three feet apart and arms outstretched to the sides. Keeping a straight line across your shoulders from finger to finger, bend your torso to the right as far as you can comfortably go, feeling the stretch in the side of your lower back for a moment before repeating on the left.
Now bring your feet together and reach above your head, crossing thumbs. Slowly, lean back to the right, tightening the muscles above your kneecaps and breathing deeply. Hold the pose and repeat on the left side, feeling the stretch higher in your back than before. Lastly, stare at a point in the distance and raise one foot to the other thigh, balancing serenely with hands either above the head or pressed together in prayer. Repeat on the other foot and get back to work.
Remain steadfast in your day
For the confined yogi without option to escape their chair, there are still useful habits worth exploring to help treat lower back pain and improve posture. In general, slouching must be avoided at all times while the shoulders should roll back and rest comfortably. Hold things vertically to your face to read them instead of arching your back to inspect items upon your desk. Furthermore, keeping your elbows elevated slightly while typing eases the strain on your wrists, working to prevent carpal tunnel.
From time to time, push your chair back a few feet from your desk and try a few simple stretches. Placing your hands on the seat or armrests of the chair, press down and lift your bottom from the seat, stretching the spine downward and breathing. As you release, keep your upper body as elevated as possible while your bottom lowers back to a comfortable position. Additionally, consider attempting the above three-pose sequence while seated, mimicking the arm movements and side bends to stretch your back before ending with a brief meditation on your goals and current progress.
Practicing pranayama breathing techniques at your desk can perhaps be a more subtle tactic if you are worried that superiors will deem any type of self-betterment as a loss-in-productivity. Taking mere moments at a time to practice deep breathing exercises in an upright, seated, position will stimulate your entire body and help your focus and overall attitude. The "complete breath" is an effective technique consisting of a deep, 5 count, inhale, holding the air for a slow 15 count, and ending with a controlled, 10 count, exhale. Repeating this a few times every hour or so will relieve tension, improve concentration, and purify the respiratory system.
Remember that yoga is more than an exercise routine, it is a way of life. If you consider yourself at all a devoted yogi, there are endless ways to further align your lifestyle with that of the yogic tradition. Exploring the eight limbs of yoga lends numerous words of guidance concerning diet, behavior, and social interaction. By learning more about the spiritual wisdom of the yogic traditions instead of purely focusing on the physical aspects, we can embrace wholeness and continue to grow on our path.