There are times when doing yoga at work can be inappropriate. Yoga pants and built-in bra tops might not fit within the scope of your employer’s dress code. Bending over backwards, literally, might be taking it a step to far in you quest to get promoted.
But there are plenty of yogic applications you can take with you to the office. You may just have to expand your definition of yoga.
The most common definition of yoga is “union,” but such a simplistic definition leaves little room for a deeper understanding. Union with one’s SELF can come about in many ways. Through breath, through movement, through meditation, through passion, and the list goes on. There is no better place than the office to achieve such union. Union in the workplace will increase creativity, efficiency and productivity and produce better overall work. That’s a win-win for the employee and the employer.
How to Do Yoga At Work
Inhale your arms overhead and interlace your fingers together, turning your palms toward the ceiling. With your feet planted firmly on the ground, press down through the sit bones and take a moment to ground. Lifting from the heart, gently pull your arms behind you to stretch the front side of the chest. Keep the shoulder blades down the back the whole time.
Now, bring your hands behind you at the sacrum and interlace your fingers with the opposite grip. Press your palms together and press the fist down toward the ground to open up the chest some more. Look up and breathe in and out slowly. Keep the feet and tailbone grounded. These stretches help open up the chest and counter the effect of sitting hunched over at a computer all day long. You’ll likely feel energized after completing these stretches.
With your feet still planted firmly and your spine straight and long, bring your hands out in front of you and place your four left fingers, excluding the thumb, perpendicularly across the right four fingers. Your right fingers will be facing away from you and your left palm will be facing toward you. Press your left palm toward you to stretch the right fingers back and feel a nice stretch on the inside of the wrist. After taking a few breaths, face the right palm down and bring the left palm to the top of the right fingers, pressing the hand towards you to stretch the front side of the wrist. After a few breaths, switch hands. These stretches are great for countering the negative effects of typing for long periods of time.
Breath of Fire, Sitali Breathing or Ujayyi might make your cubicle mate wary of your mental health. Fear not. Pranayama can be done effectively with little auditory disturbances. Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, angry, or unfocused, turn your chair away from your computer, close your eyes and rest your hands gently in your lap. Ground your feet into the floor and sit up tall with a straight spine. Gently inhale through the nose, counting the breath. To start, see if you can inhale for five and exhale for five. As you progress, see if you can lengthen your inhales and exhales to a longer count. If possible, try and lengthen the exhale more than the inhale, as research has shown that lengthening the exhale helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm you down. If you lose track of the breath counting, start over. Take 10 cycles and then return to your work.
If you’re wondering how on earth you’ll ever get away with chanting at the office, open up your mind to the possibility of silent mantra. Write your favorite affirmations on some scrap paper with crayons, markers or colored pencils and pin the paper next to your computer. That way, you can always see your mantras at a moment’s notice, plus you have the opportunity to spice up your office décor. All you need to do is pause, take a few breaths, repeat your mantras silently to yourself, and then return to work.
Mudras, or hand yoga, are great to practice in meetings or conference rooms when you’re stuck at a large table and bored out of your mind. You can easily hide your hands in your lap or under the table and touch together your fingertips in different hand gestures without any of your fellow co-workers knowing. To temper boredom, frustration or indifference, try the Gyan Mudra, or grounding mudra, by touching the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your index fingers and resting the tops of your palms gently on your thighs. This mudra will help you recharge and reconnect.
If you need a break from the office, take a walk! Make it a conscious effort by adding in some meditation to the mix. Even if it’s just a short walk around the block, concentrate on placing one foot in front of the other. If you have the chance to get outside, observe what is around you and take in the beauty of nature. Focus on your breath and bring awareness to your whole body, how you feel, where you’re tense, where you can relax and release, and where you don’t feel anything at all. Getting back in touch with your body will help your mind relax and slow down the thought race in your head so that you can return to work with renewed clarity and spirit.
Do you do yoga at work? Share your favorite ways to find union on the clock.