Yoga at the Desk
From about 2005 - 2008 I was working a desk job. I had quit Gymnastics and Dance, because I wanted more money, more security and less stress (what a paradox).
Anyway, the point of my little window to the past was to let you know that I am 100% aware of what it’s like to get into the vortex that is, answering emails, admin, data entry, account management, editing, content creating, accounting - basically anything that requires attention to a screen. It can be both monotonous and hypnotising at the same time, and unfortunately can very quickly disconnect you from the needs of your body and can possibly lead to less efficiently functioning brain - we’ve all been there, in fact, how many times have you had to read over this last paragraph?
To combat this lull in productivity I wanted to present to you, ironically via the computer, a way to manage that deep Vortex that is so easy to get lost in while working at a desk.
Of course one of the best ways to boost brain power is to move your body, going to the gym or for a brisk walk outside would certainly help to enliven some creativity - there are studies to prove it. Yoga as well has been shown to improve GABA levels within the brain (low GABA levels have been linked to disorders such as depression and anxiety).
This is all very good and well, but I completely understand from experience that it’s not always possible to leave the desk. Perhaps the boss is hanging over your shoulder or you’re just trying to meet a dead line. I get it.
So, before you reach for that 7th cup of instant coffee, I have another potential, helpful, and healthier solution.
I call it desk-yoga and it takes about 5 minutes.
Set a reminder on your phone that goes off at regular intervals within the day. Alternatively if you know you’ll be stuck at your desk for a few hours, set a timer for every 45 minutes to enter the break zone. The break zone is based on several studies that found that the human brain can usually only maintain focus for around 45 minutes (it’s probably necessary that these scientists do a revisit of this study after the introduction of social media back in ’97).
Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. 3 seconds to inhale, 3 seconds to exhale. The breath is very closely linked to the state of your nervous system, so keeping a calm and rhythmic breath can help to relax your body while awakening the mind.
Keeping your eyes closed take your head to the left, keep your chest lifted, allow the opposite shoulder to pull away from you. Imagine breathing into the side of the neck to create a sense of expansiveness. Repeat to the right.
Interlace your fingers and stretch them upward towards the sky (even if you can’t see the sky, it’s there).
Interlace the fingers behind the head, begin to lift your sternum towards the sky. Don’t drop your head too far back. Instead, use your hands to lengthen you from the back of the neck.
Take a seated twist to the left and right. Be careful to keep your chest lifted as you do this.
Place the right hand on the outside of the left leg for a seated side stretch. Raise the left arm, turn your head towards your armpit and lean to the right. Rather than compressing the right side, think about lengthening the left. Repeat right.
Yawn. It’s really good for you. It helps the brain to reset, in fact when you yawn, you’re actually stimulating a neural area of the brain that plays a major role in being more conscious and alert (while also relaxed).
There are obviously many other postures that you can do that involve more movement, but I’ve kept this as a desk-only kind of thing.
Standing, getting upside down, walking and dancing will attract more attention, but will also be effective.
I hope this helps.