The following is a yoga practice for those of us trapped behind a desk for too long each day. The poses are designed for use in a chair. I hope they bring comfort and energy during your day!
Pranayam (Breathing Practice)
*Sipping Breath: Inhale 4 sips of air through the nose. Exhale 1 long breath through the mouth. Repeat at least 3 times.
*Ratio Breath: Inhale to the count of 4 through the nose. Pause to the count of 4. Exhale to the count of 8. Pause to the count of 4. Repeat several times.
*Neck: Trace the face of an imaginary clock with your nose, slowly, several times. Switch direction and repeat again, slowly.
*Neck: Drop the right ear to the right shoulder. Keep left shoulder down and away from the head. Hold several breaths. Repeat on the left side.
*Shoulders: Roll shoulders forwards and backward, using fluid movements, several times in each direction.
*Shoulders: Extend the right arm straight across the chest. Grasp the right arm just above the elbow with the left hand. Gently pull the right arm into the chest, keeping the right shoulder down. Hold for several breaths. Switch arms.
*Wrists: Extend the right arm in front with the palm flexed (like the “stop” gesture). Interlace the fingers with the left hand and gently pull the right fingers back. Release and point the right fingers down. Grasp the fingers with the left hand, and gently pull again. Repeat on other side.
*Back: Grasp the back of the chair’s seat with both hands. Roll the shoulders back to extend the collarbones and open the chest. Pull as much as is comfortable with your hands to initiate a mini-backbend. Then, reverse the curve by grasping the front of the seat with your hands between your thighs. Keeping the arms straight, curl the chest toward the pelvis, the spine to the sky. Repeat with the breath – inhaling hands behind and exhaling hands front.
*Side Body and Hips: Raise both arms to the ceiling, keeping shoulders down. Grasp the right wrist with the left hand. Now lean to the left, feeling the ribs open on the right side, being sure to keep the heart facing the front. Hold for 3 breaths. Repeat on other side.
*Spine: Cross the right leg over the left so the knees are very close together. Place the left hand on the right outer thigh, the right hand on the back of the seat or chair back. Inhale, sit up tall, and twist to the right. Start the twist with the belly button and let it creep up the spine, finally ending with the neck. Hold several breaths. Slowly release. Switch sides.
*Hips: Cross the right ankle over the left thigh. Place the right hand on the right knee and left hand on right foot. Slowly lower your chest toward your calf. Hold several breaths. Switch sides.
*Groin and Hips: Scoot the sitting bones to the front edge of the chair. Open the knees wide, feet flat on the floor. Keeping a flat back, fold forward into the space between the legs. Let go of the head – shake it ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Hold for several breaths. On an inhale, roll up one vertebra at a time.
Sit upright with feet on floor and hands resting one on top of the other, palms up. Close your eyes and feel the breath as it moves through the nostrils, focusing on the tip of the nose. Sit quietly for a few minutes, just feeling the breath explore the new openness in your body. Namaste