While yoga used to be stereotyped for free spirits & Ladies Who Lunch, that is no longer the case. Research on the wide benefits of yoga created a huge rise in popularity across the US, especially because it has now been shown yoga poses combat sitting too much during the day.
While medical professionals such as therapists and BCBA’s aren’t hunched over a computer all day long, they are still prone to sitting much of their day. The negative implications this has on overall health has led some experts to say “sitting is the new smoking.”
According to survey by Ergotron, Americans are sitting on average 13 hours per day & sleeping on average 8 hours per day, adding up to 21 hours of your day, every day. This means, the average American is only active about 3 hours per day.
While sitting less at your job may not be an option, there are great ways to combat the effects that sitting brings. One of the best ways to do this is with yoga.
There are some wonderful yoga poses for people who sit long periods of a time to help heal the body.
You might be thinking, how would 10 minutes of yoga help me turn back an entire of sitting. Well, yoga is a whole body activity, meaning every pose engages articulations, tissues & muscles in a holistic movement approach.
Yoga helps sharpen your attention and concentration by calming the nervous system. It also improves the mood, behavior and overall mindfulness.
According to Psy. D Deborah Khoshaba, “By concentrating on maintaining a specific body posture and alignment of a pose and then holding it, as you breath deeply, the body starts to shift from a state of biochemical arousal and tension, to calm and relaxation.”
Read more on the health benefits of yoga.
The best ways to effectively help with yoga is a take small breaks throughout your day to do a few poses. Plan your breaks ahead of time to make sure they are scheduled in. A great time to set a few minutes aside could be between clients or during lunch.
Here are our favorite poses to help you feel better all day long.
#1 Mountain Pose
Sitting for long periods causes us to contract the back forward. Mountain pose is a powerful back and chest opening posture that counteracts this.
To do the pose, come to a relaxed standing position with your feet about hips-width-apart. Gently bring your hands up over your head with your palms facing forward. While breathing deeply, slowly bend backwards and tilt your head to look up towards the sky.
Hold for a few deep breaths and return to an upright standing position. Repeat several times trying to guide your body deeper into the pose each time.
#2 Forward Fold
This easy pose provides a wonderful feeling of release throughout your body which not only helps you stretch but also is great for stress and anxiety reduction.
Again with your feet hips-width apart slowly bend forward from the hips. If you feel too much pull through your lower back and legs, bend slightly at the knees.
Allow yourself to hang breathing deeply as you bend further into the pose. Roll your body back to standing, allowing your head to roll up last.
#3 Neck Stretch
Our necks get tense for a variety of reasons including stress and staring down at phones or computers. To counter this try slow neck circles.
Start by sitting or standing and gently lean your head to the right. Extending your opposite arm and guide your neck deeper into the stretch. Deep breaths will allow you to stay relaxed and flow even further into the stretch.
Hold for a few deep breaths and then switch to the other side.
#4 Tree Pose
This balance pose requires focus which is a great way to get our minds off of our to-do lists and busy schedules.
Start in a comfortable standing position and slowly bring your weight to one foot, pressing down through all areas of your foot. Place the sole of the opposite foot against the thigh, calf or ankle, making just to avoid pressing directly into the knee.
Find a focal point to keep you keep your balance while you continue to take deep breaths, releasing the stress of the day with each exhale.
#5 Cow Face Arms Pose
As a result of sitting for long periods our spine begins to round and the upper arms turn inward. This results in tight shoulders which can cause breathing challenges leading to anxiety and increased reactiveness.
To do this pose, take the right arm up in line with the ear and turn the upper arm so that the palm faces away from you. Your thumb should be pointing to the right. Slowly bend your elbow and try to interlock your fingers. If interlocking is too difficult try holding onto something like a towel or belt. Hold for several breaths and then switch sides.
#6 Warrior II
Warrior II is effective in strengthening your legs while also opening your hips and chest. This aides in improving circulation and brings energy back to the body.
Begin by stepping your right foot forward and left foot back. Turn your left toes out as you press down through your entire foot. Gently bend your right knee, keeping your thigh parallel to the ground.
Be sure to align your knee directly over your right ankle and toes pointed forward.
Align your shoulders with your hips and reach your arms out in either direction. Keep your gaze over your front hand and hold for several deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side by stepping your left foot forward and right foot back.
Is stressing also affecting your work day? Read our article on 5 Tips for Avoiding BCBA Burnout.