By JiJi Russell
Contributor, Sports+Fitness Network
This installation of office yoga features a lateral stretch and a spinal twist, both of which offer alternative ways of moving as an antidote to a day of office work.
In the yoga tradition, twists in particular are known to provide an energy boost as well as a good squeeze for the internal organs. You might want to practice the twist before you eat, or several hours afterwards, as it will exert pressure on the stomach and intestines. (That’s part of its potency: helping along digestion, which can become sluggish when we sit, incidentally.)
As I mentioned last month: Even if the poses seem “simple,” do remain slow and mindful as you enter into them and hold them. If you can engage a deep, yogic-style of breathing as you hold each pose, you will receive even greater benefits from your efforts.
Yoga on the Side
Stand beside a wall, about the length of your forearm from the structure. Keep you inside hand (the one closest to the wall) on the wall, at about shoulder height. Take your outside hand and place the fingertips on the top of your head, pointing your elbow out to the side.
Stand very erect, as you lift and lengthen your spine and reach your skull into the fingertips that are resting on top of your head. Next, curve yourself toward the wall as you “reach” slightly through your outside hip and rib cage in counter position, pulling slightly away from the wall.
Optionally, take your outside foot, and place it slightly behind you, with some of your weight gently pressing into the ball of the foot. This increases the overall stretch of the pose.
Take three full breaths. If you cannot breathe easily, come slightly out of the pose and “hold” at a point where you can maintain a full breath cycle (inhale/exhale). Come out of the pose, turn around, and do the other side.
This pose stretches the lower back, muscles in the side waist and groin, and the neck. The pose is great because it offers your body an escape from “typical” daily movements and gets you moving/thinking alternatively.
Do the Twist
Stand beside and very close to a wall. Step your inside foot (the one closest to the wall) slightly forward, and your outside foot slightly back, to make a small lunge position with your feet. Bend both knees slightly and turn the toes of both feet to point straight forward. Relax your back and pelvis, and stand tall.
Turn toward the wall, and place your hands on it about shoulder distance apart, with the fingertips no higher than your shoulder height. Hold yourself in this twisting position and breathe deeply. Optionally, widen your hands and turn to look slightly behind you for a deeper twist.
Hold for three breaths, and then unwind to face forward again. Bring your feet together, turn around, and do the other side.
Twists are good for an energy boost as well as a way to break up the kinks and discomforts of sitting. They also are helpful for digestion and relieving back pain. Always lengthen your spine before twisting it, and never crank yourself into an aggressive twist, which can damage the bones of the spine and/or the spinal disks.
Five minutes might be all it takes to find a little boost in energy, and greater comfort, within your day.