by Gemma Church
Chances are you’re one of the millions of people out there sitting at a desk. It can be difficult to keep physically motivated when your screen time consumes your day-to-day existence.
An excessively sedentary existence is also incredibly bad for your health, according to a wealth of research and scientific studies.
We’ve spoken to some of NYC’s leading yoga studios to find a few simple poses you can do to keep you moving at your desk. Here are five top tips from Dana Covello, founder of the Twisted Trunk Yoga studio in New York.
Take a Breath
Set a timer on your phone for every hour or so and direct your attention inward. Dana explains: “When your breath is uninhibited by a physical or emotional posture, it should move in three dimensions.”
Take a breath (or two or three) down into your lower belly. Feel your belly expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale. If no one is looking you can even put your hands on your stomach. Take another breath into the sides of your ribs so that your breath moves laterally. Take a few last breaths into the back of your lungs.
Spending a few minutes breathing can help you minimize stress and refocus on the task at hand. Dana adds: “I also suggest people get in the practice of taking a few mindful breaths before walking into the office and few before walking into the door at home – particularly if you know you tend to work on autopilot.”
Check Your Sitting Posture
Try to sit on the edge of the chair with a neutral pelvis versus a tucked pelvis. A tucked pelvis is where you sit on your sitting bones, the two bony protrusions on either side of your pelvis. Instead you should sit on the bottom of your sacrum. Dana says: “This can take some time if you have spent years sitting so that the chair does the work. Multiple times a day, try switching your posture to this. It’s a more optimal shape for the body.”
Even sitting on the edge of your chair and straightening your legs can be a stretch for the back of the legs, particularly if you tend to keep your knees bent all day.
Also, check your head’s position in relation to your spine and bring your head back in line with your torso. A lot of people shift their heads forward when doing screen work.
Look Away From Your Screen
Try to look away from your screen for 10 to 30 seconds a few times a day so that your eye muscles get some variety. Again, try to set a time. You can also just make a habit of looking away every time you go to check your emails or social media.
If you’re near a window, take three breaths focusing on something close to the window and then three breaths focusing on something very far away to vary the points of focus.
Try a Few Moves At Your Desk
Depending on how brave you’re feeling, try out a few simple moves at your desk. This simple sequence can be repeated a few times without you even having to stand up. Just remember to sit on the edge of your chair.
If you want to get out of your chair, these moves are a little bit more adventurous and give you the chance to stretch a few more muscles to reinvigorate your body and mind.
A Few Final Tips
Yoga isn’t the only way to prioritize your health and wellbeing from your desk. Dana recommends adopting some other habits: “Drinking plenty of water so your body forces you to get up and walk from time to time, taking the stairs, parking at a further distance away, walking to get your lunch – really anything that forces you to move more and sit less.”
This change of mindset to move more and sit less is important. Mike Taylor, co-founder, guide and resident healer at NYC yoga studio Strala says: “Our everyday desk time can be extremely rough on our bodies and minds, leading to all kinds of stress, tension, and chronic pain. But we don’t need to throw away our jobs and desks just yet. We can transform this time from something that hurts into something that helps. It doesn’t take much, we just have to do it.”
Here’s a video from Mike demonstrating a few more simple chair moves for you to try out.