Over the past few hundreds of years the nature of our work has changed drastically. We have gone from being active and mobile in fields and factories to jobs that require us to sit at desks and computers for long hours. And while this increased usage of technology has transformed our lives for the better in so many ways, one may also argue that it is taking a negative toll on us.
The human body thrives with regular movement, and while our ancestors used to have this as an ingrained part of their day, most modern humans do not. The average human wakes up, drives to work, sits at a desk using a computer, drives home and then relaxes from all this sitting by sitting some more, likely in front of another screen (tv, computer, phone). In short: a whole lot of time sitting down!
In fact, the sedentary nature of our modern world has begun to take such a toll on us that it has become the newest, most widespread health epidemic. If you haven’t heard by now experts have determined that Sitting is the New Smoking, meaning that long hours of sitting have such detrimental effects on our health that it increases the risk of chronic diseases drastically. SCARY RIGHT?!
While this doesn’t necessarily mean doing a headstand on your desk, it does mean regularly incorporating more stretches and movement into your workday throughout the week. Doing so will help you: navigate the stressors of work more gracefully, keep your body both strong and flexible, help you stay on task to get more done in less time and make sure that you are taking time for self care!
1) Yoga helps to keep your spine healthy and your core muscles strong:
Within just a few minutes of using our devices (whether it’s a computer, phone, tablet or steering wheel), we tend to round and slouch over. This slouched position causes increased neck and shoulder tension and pain (called tech or text neck) and can lead to muscle weakness which sets the stage for injury. By challenging us to move in many different directions and hold unique poses, Yoga awakens sleepy muscles to make sure they stay active and strong.
By encouraging you to move our body through your healthy range of motion, Yoga helps you to maintain the neutral curves of your spine, deepen your flexibility, maintain bone density, plus keep your joints mobile and your muscles strong.
Try this “Yoga At My Desk” move: Desk Plank with leg lifts!
This move is great for toning your arms, abs, legs and glutes to help you maintain core strength and good posture!
2) Meditation boosts your brain health:
Yoga invites you to pay attention to your body, your breath and your thoughts. This focused attention or meditation, is found to have profoundly powerful effects on your brain, particularly part of your brain called the hippocampus.
The hippocampus is a key player in memory and concentration, and is one of several parts of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, so it is super important to keep it healthy! Meditation is also known to soothe stress by lowering cortisol levels, promote feelings of calm andslow the aging of the brain to keep you sharp for decades to come.
In addition to these powerful neurological benefits, meditation gives you the chance to shift your focus inwards and consciously tune into yourself, which is something that we don’t tend to do very often.
Try this “Yoga At My Desk” tool: Hakini Mudra
Hakini Mudra is called the “Mudra of the Mind” because it helps to encourage whole brain communication, memory, and creativity by stimulating the band of nervous tissue that connects the two sides of your brain called the corpus callosum.
3) Deep Yoga Breathing lifts your mood:
Being rounded over a keyboard places your spine in a C shape (rather than the usual and ideal S shape). Because this posture restricts the movement of your diaphragm, your ability to breathe deeply (or what is called your vital lung capacity) drops by 30%! This drop triggers a stress reaction in your body as your heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing all speed up to make sure that you get enough oxygen.
By encouraging you to sit up tall and be aware of your posture and breath, Yoga helps to counteract this stress of habitually short and shallow breathing.
In as little as three deep breaths (about 20 seconds), your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure drops and your body begins to secrete oxytocin. Oxytocin is the feel good hormone that helps to shift your nervous system into a relaxed state while promoting healing and happiness. This lends to a shift in your outlook which research shows helps us to feel more optimistic, patient, level headed and easier to get along with. Being in a good mood means that interactions with co-workers will likely be less stressful, plus helping to improve workplace morale and productivity!
Try this “Yoga at My Desk” technique: Deep belly breathing
Take 10 deep slow breaths. Enjoy!
4) Yoga is energizing:
Having such a powerfully balancing effect on your body on all levels (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual), Yoga helps you have more consistent energy throughout the day. With your spine in good alignment your muscles can work more efficiently, your organs can function better and your hormones can balance out.
All of this translates to less fatigue, more clarity, creativity and productivity. Yes please!
Try this “Yoga at My Desk” move: Side Stretch
This powerful stretch opens the sides and front of your body to help you maintain strong healthy posture!
5) Regular practice of Yoga means fewer injuries and sick days:
Yoga helps to keep your body in balance inside and out! By lowering stress levels, boosting immune function and improving sleep quality, Yoga helps you get sick less often and recover more quickly when you do. Also, Yoga poses help maintain the important balance between strength and flexibility to keep muscles active and joints mobile which lowers the risk of injury.
With its focus on overall health and vitality, Yoga helps you to cultivate balance inside and out. This state of steadiness and calm means that you will have less physical and mental fatigue so that you can stay focused and on top of your game!