How to Do Yoga at Your Desk
Throughout the workday, improve your posture and up your energy with these easy steps.
A symphony of sounds can erupt when we stand up after a long day of work at the computer — the pops, the creaks and the grinding stiffness of a body that has been out of motion for hours in bad posture.
Leta Koontz, founder of Schoolhouse Yoga in Pittsburgh, suggests several strategies to keep our bodies better aligned during the workday; these techniques can reduce the chance of back or wrist pain.
The first step, she says, is to watch how you’re sitting. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, with your knees at a right angle. Don’t let your back slump into a round shape.
“Imagine having a book on your head,” Koontz says. “Keep your lower abs engaged.”
The next step is a series of short stretches to counteract the posture we adopt while at our desks:
Chest Stretch. If you’re feeling low on energy, a simple stretch might be able to replace a run to the coffee shop. Sit on the front edge of your chair and put your hands behind you on the back edge of the chair, pressing your elbows together. Lift your chest up and forward, stretching open the shoulders and chest. The ability to take a full, deep breath, Koontz says, will only add to your energy level. Hold the stretch while you take two breaths.
Spine Stretch. Another way to boost your energy is by giving your spine a good stretch. Scoot to the edge of your chair. Bring your hands to your knees and inhale. Lean forward, arching your back and lifting your chin. When you exhale, lean back, rounding your spine and dropping your chin to your chest. (To keep yourself at a good pace, you may count a slow one-two-three as you lean forward and repeat one-two-three as you lean back.) Repeat four times.
Thigh Stretch. Stand at your chair with your right hand on the back of the chair. Bend your left leg as if you are kicking it up behind you and grab your left ankle. Press your left foot behind you while you press the front of your right hip forward. This will stretch out your legs, which aren’t getting much range of motion while you sit. Hold the stretch for a few breaths (or 20-30 seconds) and repeat the stretch on the right side.
Koontz recommends trying to do these stretches every 30 minutes during your work day. Try to devote around a minute for each pose while checking in with your body to determine if it needs more or less time. “Your body likes stretching,” she says. “It will tell you what it needs.”
Nutrition: What food should you incorporate into your diet this month?
Assist your immune system in February by eating sweet potatoes, says Pittsburgh nutritionist Heather Mangieri. They are a source of vitamin A — which helps our skin and keeps the mucus membranes in our digestive tract and lungs strong — as well as vitamin C. Mangieri says she loves sweet potatoes because they can satisfy both the sweet and savory palates. “They are a superfood because you don’t really have to add anything to them,” she says. For those who want an extra boost for their sweet tooth, Mangieri recommends a sweet potato mash, with some cinnamon or apple sauce added over the top. For those who prefer a saltier preparation, try doing a baked sweet potato with salsa, baking sweet potato fries or using sweet potatoes as a layer in a baked dish with tomatoes and caramelized onions.