Workday Workout: Seated Stretches
Before you reach for a caffeinated beverage to combat your midafternoon slump, try re-energizing your day with three simple yoga-inspired stretches that be done right at your desk.
Seated Side Stretch
Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor, about hip width apart. (If you need more support, you can sit with your body pressed up against the back of the chair.) As you inhale, sweep both arms overhead, extending your fingertips towards the ceiling, and joining the palms together. In this position, be sure to relax your shoulders down away from your ears. As you inhale, lengthen through your upper body, extending fingertips even higher toward the ceiling, and as you exhale gently bend to the right, reaching your fingertips to the right corner of the ceiling. Continue to maintain a long, neutral spine as you breathe naturally and evenly (focus on steady, even breathing, taking the same amount of time to inhale as you do to exhale). With each inhalation continue to find length through the upper body, and with each exhalation move slightly deeper into the side bend. To avoid rounding forward, pull your left shoulder back slightly so that the shoulders are squared. Complete three to five breaths reaching to the right, and as you exhale return to center. Repeat on your left side.
Sit near the edge of your seat with your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Place your hands on your thighs just above the knees. As you inhale, slightly arch the back as you push the stomach forward and tilt the chin and tailbone slightly toward the ceiling. As you exhale, begin to round the back, drawing the naval toward the spine and the chin to the chest. Utilize your natural breath cycle to move through this asana (inhaling as you arch, exhaling as you round). Complete three to five breath cycles.
Seated Gentle Twist
Sit near the edge of your seat with your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and inhale. Exhale gently and twist to the right, placing your right hand on the arm of the chair if you are using a chair with arms, or on the back of a chair if you are using an armless chair. With each inhalation focus on lengthening the spine, keeping the core engaged and drawing the crown of the head towards the ceiling. With each exhalation, move slightly deeper into the twist as you rotate a little bit farther. Complete three to five breath cycles, and as you exhale slowly return to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
Jessica Matthews is an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. As a contributor to The Juice Bar, she'll be giving you the scoop on the latest fitness classes, decoding newfangled gym equipment, debunking exercise myths, and more.
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