3 tips to improve your wellness while working in a sedentary job
By Eliane Haski
Yoga Teacher, business owner and movement specialist.
Sitting at a desk all day, staring at a screen and spending your time sorting things out, your body feeling unhappy, sore, tight, achy, your mind feeling tired and cloudy, especially in the afternoon and no doubt stress and pressure are regularly present states of being.
Sounds familiar? Did you know that stress and a sedentary lifestyle are one of the major contributing factors to a decline in health and all major decease in the modern world.
Good news though, the practices of Yoga can Help!
So many people have the impression that yoga is for the flexible and the skinny. Not so, yoga is for everyone. Fitness level, flexibility level, strength level are not obstacles. Yoga meets you where you are at and there is a practice and a variation to suit everyone. Many of the practices in yoga have been shown to improve health and a sense of well-being across numerous populations.
One of the main focuses in yoga is breathing. When we take time to bring our attention to the breath we can create a sense of calm and clarity. We can refresh the body and mind, settle the nervous system and generally improve the way we feel. When we combine movement and breath together we create the magic that is Yoga.
We all know that movement makes us feel better and stretching feels so wonderful, especially when you have been stuck behind a desk all day. In my world, movement is medicine and there is nothing better than being present in my body with a bit of hard work, a little sweat and a good stretch.
Going to a yoga class can be great, especially when you find the right class for you. You like the style, the pace of the practice and the teacher. If you can get there once or twice a week, brilliant! But it’s not always possible and navigating a studio or class at the gym can be hard or feel intimidating at first. Luckily I have 3 practical and easy tips for you to get started on your own and at your desk.
Tip 1: Breathing
Breathing is super important, we need it to live, but how often do you tune in and really feel and notice how you are breathing? How we breath effects our mood, changes our blood chemistry and can tell us lots about what’s going on in the body. When we are nervous or stressed our breathing becomes quick and erratic. When we are calm and relaxed our breathing is calm, smooth and steady. By simply taking some time to be quiet, still and watch our breath we can relieve stress, find clarity and recharge our energy.
Following is a simple breath awareness meditation to help you begin to tune into your breath, notice how you are feeling and send a wave of calm through your body.
Sit comfortably in your chair. If you can, take your shoes off and rest your feet flat on the floor. Rest your hands in your lap. Close your eyes and begin to listen in to your breath. No need to change your breath, just watch and notice how you feel, what is happening for you right now? As much as is comfortable breath in and out through your nose, if you need exhale through your mouth.
When you are ready, count your inhale, 1, 2, 3, 4, count your exhale. Do they match? Keep breathing and with each breath you take, breathe in comfortably and slow your exhalation to be longer than your inhalation. You can count the breath, inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. You can alter the count to be comfortable for you so long as your exhale is longer than your inhale.
Take 10 breaths in this way then come back to comfortable, normal breathing. Notice how you feel. When you’re ready, open your eyes and continue your day.
You can use this breath technique at any time. You can even use it in a meeting or when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, just keep your eyes open and count your breaths whilst staying present in the moment. You may find that you are able to handle the situation with more ease. It is particularly helpful when the heart is racing and a sense of overwhelm is present.
Tip 2: Spinal Movement
Sitting at a desk all day, staring at a screen, holding a phone to your ear are all not things your body is built for. You might find your neck and shoulders getting sore and achy. Lower back niggles and maybe even sore hips. No doubt when these things hit you hop up and go for a bit of a walk and move around if you can.
Following is a simple sequence you can do at your desk to ease out some of this tension.
Sit towards the edge of your chair. Feet flat on the floor, if you can take your shoes off. The physical practice of yoga has us use breath and movement together. So tune into your breath, just like you did in Tip 1. Then we can add movement. Inhale lift your chin, exhale bring chin to chest, do this 3 times. Inhale come back to the centre after the third set. Exhale, drop your ear to one shoulder, inhale back to centre, exhale to the other side. Do this for 3 sets inhale to come back to centre. Exhale turn and look over one shoulder, inhale to centre, exhale to the other shoulder, do this 3 times either side. Tip your head over to one shoulder and drop your chin towards your chest on an angle. You should feel some sensation on the back corner of your neck. Keep your head on this angle and inhale lift your chin up towards the ceiling, open the front corner of you throat. Exhale chin towards the chest again and repeat 3 times on one side, then switch and repeat 3 times on the other side. To finish bring chin to chest in the centre, lift your chin to the ceiling and then return to the centre, neutral spine. Take some time to notice how you feel. You can do this in your spine as well, twisting either side, moving with your breath, bending side to side and then opening and closing the chest. Just move and breath together. When you are done take a few breaths to just sit still and rest and let that settle in your body, notice how you feel.
Tip 3: Drink Water and recite a Mantra
In Yoga we use mantras to help invoke a sense of being or to manifest and cultivate a certain aspect of self. Much in the way one would use a positive affirmation. Often we have intention to recite these affirmations or mantras each day to help nurture these qualities within ourselves. But how often do we forget to do it?
Do you drink enough water during the day? One of the best ways to stay healthy, hydrated and mentally active is to make sure you drink enough water each day.
One way I have found, to not only nourish my body with the water it needs but also to nourish my soul, is to combine the two together. When you take a drink of water you can recite your mantra or affirmation in your mind. This will not only make you more mindful when drinking but also give you plenty of opportunities to tune into your body, mind and being. Let your water drinking be a mindful and considered process. Feel the water as it travels down your throat and moves into every part of your body. Let this be a few special seconds just for yourself. At the same time reciting your mantra or affirmation, that way you are reminding yourself of those ideas, positive self-talk, strength and drawing that energy into your life.
Following are a few mantras that might help get you thinking.
Yours might be something like:
- I am a strong, capable and able.
- My kindness is my strength.
- I am efficient and thorough.
Sometimes all we need, and this is one of my favourites: LET GO!
- I have all I need within me.
- I am powerful.
You might come up with many of your own and they may change depending on your circumstances. Just let them be positive and “as if now,” see and feel yourself embodying the qualities of your mantra.
These three tips are all pretty easy to do and easy to weave into your day. You will be amazed at how quickly they become a part of your day you look forward to them. You will see the benefits weave into all aspects of your life, as your mood, the care and relationship you have with your own body and your productivity all improve.
You can add to this with regular daily exercise, a yoga practice and healthy eating regime. Remember your body and mind are one, nourish your body, nourish your mind. Speak kindly to yourself, don’t justify poor decisions and laziness. Treat yourself as a god/goddess and others will see you as such. Remind yourself every day how wonderful you are, how complex and infinite your body/mind is. Let go of drama and negativity, they do not serve you anything useful, they just serve to bring you down, clutter your mind, pollute your body and breed negativity and sickness.
Step into your power, step into your greatness and be all you want to be!
Want to know more about Eli and her wonderful Yoga classes check out her website today!