Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yoga for People Who Don't Do Yoga - #1

My friend Kristie and I were chatting over smoothies the other day and the following came up: spending hours working at a desk / over a computer makes our bodies feel out of whack.

I offered to share with her some simple yoga poses that can help to undo the desk work tension and fatigue.

To illustrate how these poses are great for ANY desk worker and how you don't have to be a human pretzel to do them, I've coerced my husband, the software developer with zero interest in yoga, into modeling the poses.

Important Note: When doing yoga poses, PAIN IS NEVER OKAY. Listen to your body and move into the poses slowly. A mild discomfort that comes from stretching a stiff muscle is okay - but any shooting, stabbing, throbbing, tweaking, twinging pains are not okay and are signs to back off.


1. Supported Fish Pose
This pose is great for un-hunching your upper body at the end of the day. You will need a blanket or large towel for this pose. We used a beach towel.

  • roll up the blanket or towel until it is about 4 inches in diameter and 2-3 feet wide (you can play around with the diameter later to suit you)
  • lie down on the floor, placing the towel under the base of your shoulder blades
  • let your legs be comfortable and your arms up over the towel/blanket (kind of in a T position)
  • breathe deeply and feel that your chest is opening (you may need to play around with where to move the blanket/towel)
  • if you have been spending quite a bit of time hunched over your desk/computer, this pose might be quite intense at first - with regular practice you'll begin to undo your "hunch"
  • you might also like a blanket or towel under your head
  • I like to hold this pose for 2-3 minutes and then remove the blanket and lie flat on the floor for another 2-3 minutes. Your spine will feel great!
2. Variation on Lion Pose
This pose is great for stretching your wrists, hands, and forearms. Be gentle in this pose! There are a bazillion tiny bones and whatnots located in your wrists.

  • start in either a comfortable cross-legged seat or kneeling
  • lean forward and reach your hands out in front of you and turn your hands so your fingers are pointing toward you, press your palms to the ground
  • you should feel a good stretch in your forearms and wrists and maybe hands, if you would like to intensify the stretch, lean back away from your hands
  • you can also turn your hands over to stretch the other side:

  • and while your here, slowly touch your thumbs to each finger, one at a time - there will probably be one finger that feels extra tight - hold it a little longer
  • when you are finished, it may feel good to shake out or roll out your wrists


If you had a stressful day and want to let it out do the following while in Lion Pose:
  • Cross your eyes and look up at the spot between your eyebrows.*
  • Stick out your tongue and let out a throaty, growley, roar!**
*Also known as your Third Eye or Mind's Eye. If I told you to "picture a triangle" right now, you could "see" an image of a triangle in your mind while still reading this ... that is your Third Eye.
**There is not a photo of my husband modeling this part. I thought it would be pushing it to ask. Fun fact: I am known to make my college student classes do this pose all together (including the roar) to relieve stress before they give presentations.

3. Easy Pose with Neck Stretch
This pose releases the tension in your neck and shoulders.

  • start in a comfortable seated position (either on the floor or in a chair)
  • extend your left arm out about 45degrees and gently tip your head to the right
  • you will feel a nice release down the left side of your neck and possibly into the top of your left arm
  • breathe
  • now turn your head so you are looking at your right shoulder - you'll feel the stretch move to a different part of your neck
  • repeat on the other side


Just spending 10 minutes or so on these 3 poses should make it easier to shake off your desk worker posture and release some tension in your body.