Easy home yoga poses to help with posture, clarity and concentration
In the current climate of COVID restrictions, many of us have started to work from home, making a working from home yoga practice an important part of our daily routine. For some of us, this shift from office space to the home office has been a welcome move, freeing up the time spent on the daily commute and allowing us to work in our pj’s from the waist down!
However, working from home is not without its challenges and often leaves us missing the energy that our coworkers gave to us throughout our working days. It may also include long periods in front of a screen as we work with an increased number of conference calls on zoom.
These are some essential yoga poses to help to relieve the tensions that come from working from home on your computer. This working from home yoga practice includes poses that you can do whilst at your desk, on your lunch break, and a short sequence that you can do to counteract the effects of a day slumped in a chair at a screen.
Relax with some mindful breathing exercises: 4-7-8 Breathing: Release the pressure
Working from home yoga practice for your desk, lunch break & end of the working day
A yoga practice to recentre whilst at your desk
These mini working from home yoga practices can be injected into your day whilst still sat at your desk to help to find your concentration when it wanders. They can also be useful after a stressful zoom meeting or call to help you recentre.
This is a great mini-meditation to do when you first sit down at your desk and then at any moment throughout your day when you feel like you need to recentre.
Sit on the edge of your chair with a nice long spine, your feet firmly planted on the ground and your hands on your lap. Set a timer on your phone for 3-5 minutes and make sure to it put onto aeroplane mode. Spend a few minutes following the inward and outward flow of your breath into your belly, lungs and chest. You can say to yourself the words in as you inhale and out as you exhale, or count your breaths from 1-10.
For more mindfulness and meditation practices that you can weave through your day or yoga practice check out Flow Publications.
Front and back of wrist stretch
Many hours spent typing can create tension in the wrists and forearms, which in extreme cases can lead to problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Stretching out the wrists can help free up the flow of fluids in your upper body and release energetic blockages, which will leave you feeling invigorated and more motivated.
Sitting on the edge of your chair again, bring the back of your hands into your side ribs with your fingers pointing back and take 5 full breaths. Repeat with the palms of your hands pressing into your side waist with your fingers pointing up.
If you’ve just got off stressful zoom meeting, then let that tension go with a roar! Although you may feel a bit silly doing this breathwork, the joy of working at home is that no one is there to see you do it.
Take a full breath in through your nose, raising your shoulders and screwing up your face as tight as you can. Exhale through the mouth, sticking out your tongue whilst you do so and opening your eyes wide whilst dropping your shoulders. This will help to relax the jaw and muscles of the face as well as the shoulders. Repeat the action a few times, not being afraid to really roar out the breath on the exhale. Trust me you’ll feel so much better afterwards!
See also: Bumblebee Breath & the Vagus Nerve
We all know how much tension can build in the shoulders and neck when we’re sat staring at a screen all day. This pose is fantastic for accessing a deep stretch in these problem areas.
Take hold of the side of your chair and bring the other hand behind your back to hold onto your upper arm. Drop your ear to your shoulder and play about with the angle of your chin until you find the sweet spot across the top of your shoulder and along your neck to stretch into.
For full sequence ideas incorporating Graceful bow and other shoulder and neck-release poses read In My Element. Available to buy now on Amazon.
Energising yoga poses for your lunch break
You can incorporate a couple of these lunch break yoga poses into a mini 10-minute practice. Or if you have a bit more time, they make an ideal 15-20 minute energising flow that will leave you feeling set up for the afternoon of work ahead.
Sitting down slumped at a desk all day can leave you feeling pretty lethargic. Wake up the flow of energy along your spine and help to relieve lower back issues with a few rounds of Cat-Cow.
From a Tabletop, position drop your frontal hip points forward and open your chest as you look up and inhale. As you exhale push the floor away, scooping the tailbone under and drawing the chin into the chest.
A slumped sitting posture can be down to your core not providing enough support for your lower back. A few rounds of Sunbird crunches will wake up your core muscles and remind them to stay awake in the afternoon.
From Tabletop extend one hand out in front of you and draw your belly in slightly. Then lift the opposite leg, extending it away from you. Hold both limbs parallel to the floor for a few breaths, trying to maintain your spine in a neutral position as possible. Inhale, then as you exhale, slowly draw your knee and elbow into the centre into a crunch. Extend out again as you inhale. After a few rounds on one side, come back to Tabletop and repeat the process on the other side.
Lunge and Lizard
Another culprit of sitting all day is that it can create shortened and weakened hip flexors. Achy outer hips are also common. Creating space in the front of the pelvis will both energise and destress you in the middle of your working day and stretching your outer hips will make sitting more comfortable.
From Tabletop, bring one foot through to between your hands and then take your hands onto your front knee. Lengthen through your spine and draw the energy up through your lower belly and pelvic floor. After a few breaths turn the front foot out slightly and see if you can come down onto your forearms. This will take the stretch from your back leg hip flexors into your front leg buttocks and outer hips.
Jump and shake
Wake up your nervous system and mind and shake off any stresses from the morning with a few minutes of jumping and shaking.
Start by marching on the spot and flick your hands to the side as if you were flicking water off them. Move into jumping on the spot, maybe even raising your arms overhead whilst flicking the wrists. Bring it back down to a march and then stand for a few moments in mountain pose before returning to your working day.
Anahatasana against a wall
Take a few moments to create some space in your chest, under your arms and along your side body to counteract your desk posture.
Standing a metre or so away from the wall, bring your hand to the wall and drop your hips forward so that you come into a backbend. If you feel any pinching in your shoulders, play about with the distance of your hands from each other or bring your hands into a clasp behind your head.
Relaxing yoga poses for the end of the working day
Let go of the day’s stresses and unwind with these relaxing Yin yoga poses after your working day. Hold each pose for 3-6 minutes depending on the time you have and your needs.
This is a beautiful pose for counteracting the slumped forward posture of working at a computer. This Yin yoga pose both opens your chest and your hips and is wonderfully relaxing for your mind. Use it as an opportunity to reconnect with your deep belly breathing and turn away from the noise of the day.
Set up either a bolster, some blocks or some cushions along the full length of your spine. With your buttocks on the floor, rest your spine and head back on to the support and bring your arms out either side of you with your palms facing up. Bring the soles of your feet together and make a diamond shape with your legs, bring a prop under each leg to support a releasing in the inner groin.
This pose is one of my personal favourites for my working from home yoga practice. It will stretch out the whole front body and lengthen your hip flexors, which have been in a shortened position all day.
With a prop under the back of your pelvis, where your sacrum is located, stretch your arms and legs away from you so that you’re in a gentle backbend. If it’s too intense with your legs extended, bring your feet to the floor into Supported bridge Pose.
Take a few minutes of quiet time for yourself and release any tensions that may have built up in your lower back from a day of sitting at your desk.
From Table Top position, release your sit bones back towards your heels. You can have your knees together or apart, and choose to rest your head on the floor or rest the front of your torso and head on to a support.
This is the perfect pose to reset your nervous system at the end of the day.
Lying on your back with your knees bent, drop both knees to the side and raise your opposite hand away from your body. If you can turn the head to look under that armpit, away from the bent knees. Play about with how close to your torso your knees are to access a different stretch in your lower back and outer hips.
I hope you find this working from home yoga practice of benefit to you. Remember, it’s all about building your yoga tool kit and pulling out what’s needed at the various moment throughout your day. Sometimes just closing your eyes and taking a few deep mindful breaths is all that’s needed to reset the mind and the nervous system.
For more relaxing yoga and mindfulness ideas to help you balance your life, check out the new Flow Publications book – In My Element: Yin yoga sequences guiding you through the Chinese Five Elements