By AJ Cadavedo
In this age of smartphones, tablets and countless mobile devices—we often find ourselves looking down at our screens and ruining our posture on a daily basis. Not to mention sitting down for more than 10 hours a day in front of our computers, being totally immobile, and not thinking of the health risks. Our modern lifestyle is making us stressed, tired and totally unhealthy.
Yes, you know that exercise is good for your health—and yes, you’ve been meaning to visit a gym since the beginning of the year. But have you actually done anything about it? We don’t blame you—the first step is usually the hardest.
For busy people who can’t afford the one-and-a-half hour a day for a full yoga class, there are stretches you can do in the comfort of your office—relieving pain in your neck, shoulders and back. Here’s an 8-minute sequence that doesn’t need a mat or an instructor. Just remember to take it easy when you start doing the stretches; work your way into deeper postures when your body is ready.
Release tension with mindful breathing.
When you’re too busy or drowned by work, sometimes you forget to breathe normally. Even if you think that breathing is an automatic impulse, there are moments when you’re not aware that your breath becomes shallow and irregular.
Sit straight, your hands on your thighs, your shoulders expanded and your eyes shut. Take deep inhales through your nose while slowly pointing your chest up, your belly soft and engaged protruding forward, your neck relaxed, and your eyes following a line upwards, to the ceiling. Count up to five while you push air down to your throat, lungs and diaphragm, holding your breath at the last count.
As you exhale, push the air out through your nose while you drop your shoulders, neck and head forward, creating an arch in the spine and pushing your belly button to your spine. At the end of your exhale, slightly contract your stomach muscles to push the remaining air out.
Repeat this breathing exercise without pause five times.
Relieve arm fatigue with finger and arm stretches.
Upward Bound Fingers Pose
Start by grasping your hands together, fingers interlaced and palms facing front. Put your elbows up shoulder level and place the back of your hands in front of your chest. Sit straight and engage your abdominals to protect your spine. Take a deep breath in and then exhale as you push your hands forward until you lock your elbows. Inhale again, bringing your hands in front of your mouth and exhale while stretching your arms to a 45-degree angle. Inhale one last time and pull your hands back to your forehead, then exhale, stretching your arms up over your head, your eyes slightly looking up, neck relaxed.
Don’t forget to breathe in and out with the same length, core engaged. Change the clasp of your hands and repeat the sequence again.
Loosen your upper body with neck and upper back stretches
Sit or stand straight, engaging your core—navel to the spine. Put your left hand on your left shoulder, your right hand on top of your head, tilt your head to the right slowly pulling your shoulder in the opposite direction. Count up to ten and switch sides. Put your palms together and your thumbs under your chin, slowly pushing your head up until it drops back. Do the opposite movement by interlacing your fingers at the back of your head, pushing your chin to your chest. Breathe normally and relax your neck and head the whole time.