© 2002, S. Labloch
yoga-inspired moves for stress relief and increased flexibility
wants to get carpal tunnel or any other repetitive stress injury. One way to
stay limber is with these easy moves. Just getting up and taking a break every
hour or less helps, too. Your eyes will thank you.
be afraid. These are moves inspired, adapted, and modified from Hatha Yoga,
along with non-yoga stretches I've found helpful. I get sore and stiff like any
other writer -- tender wrists and fingers, numb behinds and hurting backs,
headaches and crushing migraines. I thought I'd share a few things that work
with me. No pretzel twists here -- promise. Read through to get an idea of what
you'll need to do before you dive in to the exercises.
do these poses and stretches, and do them almost anywhere. Comfort is key, in
both clothing and during the exercises. Close the office door if you're shy.
and go slowly. Muscles are like chewing gum -- when they're cold, a good pull
can tear them, but when they're warm, the same pull stretches it all out. Even
cold muscles stretch well, if you take your time -- anywhere from 20-60 seconds
(count: "one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand...").
muscles are designed to pull, so maintain gentle stretches for as long as you
need until the muscle relaxes. If you want to take it deeper, take it in small
increments. Take care not to overstretch ligaments.
can come from eyestrain or neck/back strain (and other pains).
simply reminding yourself to relax your shoulders can ease the bunched muscles
and get your shoulders out of your ears.
it's poor ergonomics or poor posture. In any case, it hurts. Yes, the sore back.
Slouching over a keyboard all day doesn't help us, and we'll concentrate on
easing the muscle strain.
ergonomics: Sitting is harder on the back than standing, and poor working
conditions cause even more physical stress. Try to have arms parallel to the
ground and hands floating above keyboard and mouse. Wrists should be flat, not
resting on keyboard or pad while typing. Have feet on floor if possible and look
down at the glare-and-dust-free monitor. For more information, start with http://www.office-ergo.com/
The Good Stuff
loosen your belt, pants, and shirt buttons, then stick your stomach out. That's
right. Push it out. See it round out? That's what you want to see when you
breathe in. A deep breath comes from the belly; your diaphragm pulls down and
your organs go out. Breathe into the stomach, then fill up to the top of the
chest. Focus on your breathing, on feeling it go in and out. Inhale and exhale
times, slowly. (see, I told you this would be easy!)
Quickies (At your desk/Seated Moves)
palms together in front of you, then point your fingers towards your neck.
Pushing your hands together, lower them away from your body until your wrists
separate. (Stretch gently!) Hold for 20 seconds.
out with arms out from your sides (you look like a T), palms facing away from
you, fingers pointing up. You should feel the stretch along the top of your
forearms. Settle your shoulders away from your ears.
hands and raise them over your head, palms facing the ceiling. Keep your
shoulders down and elbows loose. Hold for 20 seconds.
clasped hands and place them behind your head (but not touching it) and feel the
stretch across the front of your upper chest. Squeeze the shoulder blades
together. Hold gently for 15 seconds.
hands behind you and clasp them. Straighten arms and stretch the front of the
shoulder socket. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Raise hands for deeper stretch.
clasped hands in front of you, palms facing away. Keep arms at shoulder height
and push out with shoulder blades, reversing the previous stretch. To bring in
the back, round out the lower back away from the hands as if you're pulling
rolls. Roll shoulders in large circles from front to back, then back to front.
Do 10-20 times.
straight. Concentrate on pushing your shoulders down and on pulling your head
up. Hold for 20 seconds.
right ear into your right shoulder. Keep the shoulder down and feel the stretch
along the left side of your neck. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat on the other
forward, mouth and jaw closed (not clenched). Tuck your chin into your chest and
feel the stretch along the back of your neck. Hold for 20 seconds.
back, mouth closed and jaw loose. Hold for 20 seconds.
in large circle, clockwise. Do 5 times, then repeat counterclockwise, 5 times.
chair, feet touching the ground and wide apart. Bend over, slide your arms
(palms up) inside your knees, and put your shoulders near your knees. Let your
head hang down and release your shoulders and back. Hold for 20 seconds.
also stand and give yourself a long, leisurely stretch. Go ahead, I'll wait. :)
Butt (This helps muscle tone, too!)
blood flowing back into the posterior, try a short walk around your writing area
or some squats.
parallel your feet slightly past hip-and-shoulder width or spread your feet
widely but comfortably. Keep your knees behind your toes (in line with your
ankles if possible) and lower your bottom as if you were trying to sit,
butt-first, into a chair. Go as low as you comfortably can above 90 degrees with
the knee and then get back up slowly, using your glutes and straightening. You
can hold on to your desk or bathroom sink for balance if you wish. 1-10 times.
need standing and reclining space. Have pillow or towel handy if you'd like the
Quickie moves, then get comfy for some floor moves.
Table Pose, go to Cat Pose, Table, Cow, Table. Repeat 2-3 times or as many as
you'd like. (Always sandwiching Table Pose between Cat and Cow Poses.)
Get down on
all fours, and place your arms under your shoulders, and legs about hip width
apart, knees under your hips. Your back parallels the floor. This pose should be
relaxed and comfortable. (Put towels underneath your knees for cushioning if
you'd like.) Keep your gaze soft and at a 45 degree angle or so. The spine feels
free of tension.
(also helpful with menstrual cramps and safe for pregnant writers)
Think of a
Pose, bring head down, hips down and in. Raise the abs to round out the back.
Think of pushing up with the abs (or of pulling in and up) and letting the back
open up. Brace the hands and the tops of your feet against the floor for a
deeper stretch. Hold for 20 seconds.
Go back to Table pose by releasing the abs, hips, and raising head.)
reverse Cat Pose.
hips to the ceiling, push down and in with the lower back, drop the spine to the
neck, and raise the head. Feel the stretch in the front of your spine. Hold for
also try the side stretches before moving on to Child Pose. They're listed after
Pose, sit back on your legs until your head reaches your knees (or thereabouts).
Arms outstretched or crossed next to your head, rest or recline your head and
relax. Let the tension flow out of you, and shift to the most comfortable
position in the pose. Breathe, and relax.
Pose, twitch your hips to the right and look over your right shoulder. Feel the
stretch along the left side of your spine, your weight evenly distributed
between your right and left sides. Imagine that your spine curves in a C if
viewed from above. Gently hold for 15 seconds. Reverse to stretch your right
side for 15 seconds, and then hold Table Pose for another 15. Breathe, and sink
into Child Pose.
still game, try...
Lie on the
floor, arms anywhere from 45 to 90 degrees from your body, whatever is most
comfortable. Hands, too, should be at their most comfortable position. You can
put a folded towel under your head. Comfort is key. Relax, breathing gently and
deeply. Be aware of your breath, but let it ebb and flow.
thought enters your mind, follow it but then let it go, like a balloon easing
from your hand. Bring your awareness back to your breath.
To get up,
roll to your side, your head supported by your arm, and then push up with your
arms to bring you to a seated position.
the yoga I'm getting into for now. Enjoy the relaxation and the time you've
-- you've been good to your body.