You may not have room at work to roll out your favorite yoga mat, but you know there are times when a brief yoga routine would do wonders for your peace of mind and performance. So what’s a person to do? Modify your practice. That’s all. And it’s pretty easy, so instead of reaching for that caffeinated beverage after lunch, give these few yoga sequences a try and you’ll feel great about making it through the day without stimulants.
Nothing stretches the spine, on or off the yoga mat, the way a good Cat/Cow does. I’m not suggesting you get down on all fours and stick your booty out for the world to see. Cat/Cow can actually be done rather easily in any accessible chair when a good spinal stretch is needed to infuse your back and neck with some well-deserved energy. Just sit up nice and tall with your feet flat on the ground. Slowly begin to push your lower back into the back of the chair, allowing your spine to curve forward until your chin is on your chest. I like to do this part as I exhale. Then on your inhale, starting with that chin, lift upwards and back until your chin is pointing toward the ceiling and your lower back is arched comfortably. Take your time – at least ten reps is a good goal. Marrying the breath to the movement does wonders for the brain, and in mid-afternoon, if you’re like me, you need a little brain-boost.
Getting the hips to open up on the yoga mat is easy (well, maybe not easy), but it’s more of a challenge in a chair. Still, it can be done, pigeon pose or no. Place your left ankle on top of your right knee, and bend forward, keeping your back straight. Bending the back can lead to some hamstring issues, so be sure to keep it straight. You should feel a great stretch in the back of your left hip. Hold the stretch for a good 20-30 seconds, rest, then repeat about 5 times. Switch legs and do it all again.
If you’re at a keyboard instead of on your yoga mat (yuck!), you know what tight shoulders feel like. A modification to Eagle Pose is a fantastic stretch, and simple to do. Stretch your arms out straight in front of you, then cross them so your right arm is on top of your left. Bend your elbows, tucking your right one into the crook of the left, then lift both arms up. If you can get your hands to face each other, great. If not, keep the backs together and lift.
When you need a good stretch and getting on your yoga mat isn’t an option, these three simple modified yoga poses can loosen you up, mentally and physically, just enough to get through the day…until you can get home and onto your yoga mat for real!