Tuesday, February 23, 2016


By Dominick Hiddo

We all love yoga. The practice is remarkably amazing as it provides a number benefits both mentally and physically: and in some cases, spiritually. The unfortunate part is that it can be a big undertaking to make that time for class on a daily or weekly basis. If class is one hour long, there is usually a lot time to factor in for pre and post yoga class: 20 min to get there and get ready, 60-90min in class, another 20 min to shower and change. Easily a two to three hour process. Ugh. Long, I know. Having worked on a financial trading desk many years ago, I know that we may not easily be empowered to go to class and practice yoga at the end of a long and intense day.  So what to do when you can't make class? Keep practicing of course. However, not all of us have the privilege of enjoying a liberated schedule or have the privilege of creating our own schedule. The end result is that many of us end up sitting at a desk for work: crunching numbers, plugging in data, creating presentations, doing research, writing programs, you know what I mean. The average person working in the 9-5 corporate world (really 9-7 or 8) is in most cases sitting at their desks all day in an oddly cramped position that usually keeps us in our seat for long hours during the day. And when we sit in these weird positions, our body suffers over the days of doing so. Our body really suffers in more ways than you could ever imagine. We have to correct that. And yoga can help with that. 

Hunched over your computer with your shoulders rounded creates just that: a hunch in your upper spine and oddly rounded shoulders. Leaning forward while rounding your shoulders and hunching your back creates lower back issues over time. Keeping your wrists isolated in one position for too long while you type your documents or presentations can create those joint issues that we know and all to often feel. Not moving from your seat for a long period of time can create poor circulation in your legs and feet. Then on top of all this, it is very natural for us as humans to continually adjust ourselves in order to feel more comfortable in these destructively uncomfortable positions. Then we find comfort in a discomfort. That is the goal, right? To find comfort in uncomfortable positions. The over arching problem here though is that when we find comfort in these particular discomforts, it affects our health. It affects our joints, our blood circulation, our eyes (from staring at a screen all day), and mainly our posture. So naturally, if we don't take care of ourselves, we suffer. But if we can incorporate a few yoga postures into our work routine during the day, it can definitely help us and benefit us greatly. Maybe everyone won't have the space and time to work on headstand in the middle of the office floor, but there are few poses you can do right on your desk or near your desk without overly disturbing the office peace. 

Side Stretch
Ok. Here we go. Get up out of out your chair. Stretch your arms above your head. Use one hand to grab the opposite wrist. So let's start with the left. So use your left hand to grab your right wrist. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale gently stretch your body to the side. Stay here for about 10 seconds. Then come back to center and switch. So use your right hand to grab your left wrist. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale go to the opposite side: 10 seconds here. And then repeat this for about 3 - 5 times each side. Make sure you are breathing naturally and comfortably  during this process.  This will greatly benefit you by releasing shoulder and spine tension. It will also help in releasing any sort of wrist tension and tightness.  Besides, with good breathing, a positive approach, and of course a little smile, this posture will carry you a long way through the day.

Seated-Forward Fold
I know. I know. Most of you are not going to plop down on the office floor and break out into a seated-forward fold. I get it. But what if you found some time to do this before everyone got to the office when you're the first one in? Or what if you did it when everyone was out to lunch? Or maybe at the end of the day when everyone was gone? Or maybe in a conference room in your own privacy? Or heck, maybe you did do it when everyone was there. It is for your health right? Seated-Forward Fold is an amazing stretch for your hamstrings, your entire spine, your neck, and for the blood flow in and around those areas. So when you have a moment today, find a comfortable seat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Keep your spine as long as possible before you fold forward. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, fold forward and attempt to grab your toes or your feet. If that's too hard, maybe your ankles or your shins. I'm loving this feeling already.

Downward Facing Dog (at your desk)
Doesn't seem so challenging at first, but this pose is strong and beneficial enough to get the job done. By using the desk (or a chair), you can really reap the benefits of this posture. When done correctly, it can help with opening the shoulders, releasing any sort of lower back tension, stretching the chest and collar bone, and also your hamstrings.  So when you have a moment, stand up and move your things out of the way so you have some room on your desk. And do your best to mimic the person in the image here. Place your hands on the desk. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale let your body hang between your arms. While doing this, keep your hands firmly pressing into the desk. Also, keep your quads engaged. You know, those muscles in the front part of your thighs? Squeeze them bad boys. You're doing this in order to protect your hamstrings and lower back while you get a gentle stretch in your hamstrings. Do this for a about 30 seconds - 1 minute. Then repeat once or twice more if you like. If you're not in it for the physical benefits, at the very least this posture will add a nice energetic lift to your day. 

Yea. We dropped the "F-Bomb".  And it may not be entirely appropriate, but sometimes we just need to here it. One of the leading causes of disease, illness, tension and poor posture in the body is deeply-rooted mental and physical stress. Yes, tis' true. Stress can put our body and mind into poor states of health in the blink of an eye. When we are stressed, our muscles become tense and inflexible. When we are stressed, the only thing our minds will do is manifest more of the same. Um. Ya. More stress. So make some time to close your eyes and find a comfortable seat, like our friend here. Loosen up the tie and relax. Sit up nice and tall and just watch your natural breathing. No special techniques necessary. He's sitting cross-legged, but you don't have to. You can just sit in your chair. Just make sure your spine is straight and your shoulders are slightly rolled back. Inhale and exhale easily, steadily, and comfortably. When I was stressed out working the corporate scene, I would go to an unoccupied conference room and sit there for about 2-5 minutes (and sometimes 10min). It wasn't the sacred Himalayan mountains of India, nor was it a high energy, Shakti-filled yoga class. It was just my moment to be with my self. And you can do this too. So practice Chill-The-Fuck-Out-Asana. It works.

So choose one, and get started today!

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