Pip Roberts' Office Friendly Yoga Poses
For many of us, the majority of the working day is spent seated at a desk in front of a computer screen. Sore back? Stiff neck? Tight shoulders? It’s no real surprise that sitting for hours on end is bad for you health and these are all common symptoms that often cause long term discomfort. We had a session with yoga teacher (and all round down-to-earth wellbeing type) Pip Roberts to practise her favourite office-friendly yoga poses to help reduce tension and increase energy and productivity levels. Here are PIp’s top ten moves to try next time you’re feeling screen-tired and achey.
Ground yourself with a Seated Mountain pose
Before we begin any of the (mildly) fancier moves, take a moment to ground. Get both your feet flat on the floor, sit up tall away from the back of your chair and up your sit bones, let your hands lie flat on your thighs and connect to your breath in your belly. Take five big, deep breaths into the depths of your middle. Feel better already don’t you?
Feeling yourself ground, with your feet on the floor, ease yourself around to each side in turn. Make sure the emphasis on the twist comes through the spine from the belly button upward, not through the back of the hips.
Flexing the right toes (and keep flexing throughout to protect the knee), bring the right ankle onto of the left thigh. Settle here for a few breaths, letting the right knee float wherever it floats - no forcing of the knee joint downwards please, as this opens out the hips and glutes (from all that sitting). Take it to the other side when you are done.
Interlace your fingers out in front of you, turn the palms away and then inhale as you reach them up above you. Exhale as you bring them back down in front of you. Interlace your fingers the other way (other little finger on top) then repeat. Go wild. Repeat a few times. This move creates more space in your waist and between the ribs for your breath to move in - with the deeper breaths revitalising you.
Good old Eagle arms - this pose gets in deep between the shoulder blades where so little else can go. Wrap your right upper arm under your left, then wrap the lower arms so the hands meet in prayer - if this isn’t accessible don’t force it. Maybe take a hand to the opposite shoulder and give yourself a hug. Explore broadening your collarbones within this to expand across your chest, lift your elbows a little. Go gently as you explore around this point and find what your body needs.
Interlace your fingers behind your head. Let your chin roll down towards your chest. Feel the weight of your elbows hanging heavy and drawing more length through the back of the neck. Do not pull on your head, allow gravity to do its thing, lengthening the back of the neck out. Maybe sneak in a massage with our thumbs whilst you are in this position. Release your hands and roll your head back up when you are done. Go again with your fingers interlaced in the other direction.
Stand next to the desk, place your hands on it, palms upwards, fingers towards you, bend the elbows a little and explore moving a little, with only a little pressure down through the hands, to open up and relive tension in the forearms and wrists. Then turn palms down and repeat.
Left hand gently holds right wrist as you extend through the right side. Maintaining the length still in the left side (i.e. not collapsing through that side). Can be down seated or bring yourself up to stand. Whichever you choose, feel rooted into the points of contact on the floor or chair. Explore slowly around the stretch, maybe small twists to open the chest to the ceiling or toward the floor? Juicy yeah?
Rub your hands together until they become warm; place your warm palms over those over tired screen eyes. Let your eyes look up at the space at between your eyebrows to completely soften out eye muscles. Stay as long as you like. Maybe reheat your hands with a rub and return to the dark bliss.
The ultimate restorative office pose. With your eyes closed, rest your forehead on the back of your forearms. Take deep breaths into the back of your body. This is time for the rest of practice to settle into your body. This is probably not a pose for an open plan office but great for freelancers - maybe take the first position again if you are in an open “very traditional” environment.
Want to find out where Pip is teaching next? Visit her website here for further information.