So, you’ve heard? Sitting is the new smoking! And, hunching over electronic devices, desks, and everything else is the new look.
Join me in taking a break from whatever you have going on, and pick a pose or three from below. Get the energy and circulation flowing, especially through the shoulders, hips, and back.
The affirmations, one of the unique features of Ananda Yoga, can be said loudly, with conviction (as long as no one else minds….my cats love them), or they can be done inwardly in a less “free” environment.
Repeat them outwardly or inwardly, like you really mean them! Affirmations help inspire the mind: they awaken energy, joy, and brilliant ideas that you have to solve the world’s challenges.
These poses are especially designed to get you up out of your chair for that 8-10 minute break of standing for every 20 minutes of sitting.
Marching in Place
- Step away from your chair, your desk, your computer, or whatever is holding you down
- March in place, lifting those knees. By all means, go somewhere if you need to, because that counts too.
- Swing those arms or move that body so your personal fitness device counts your steps (very important, every step to 10,000 a day counts!)
- Pretend that you are happy, enjoy this stepping, maybe even crack a smile!
- Affirm: “I am awake and ready!” (yes, you keep saying it while you march, for at least a couple minutes, maybe more.)
Calf & Ankle Recharging
- Feel free to hold onto the nearest chair, desk, or wall with one hand.
- Engage that core, gently, lifting inward toward the spine and lengthening up (to give you stability and balance)
- Balance on the right foot, and bend the knee of the left foot, tensing the calf up behind you, then tense the calf back down, repeat 3x’s. Then do ankle rotations in both directions 3x’s. Then repeat all that on the other side.
- Yes, these are kinda like those airplane exercises we should all be doing when we sit a lot, so they could be done from a sitting position.
- Bend your arms, elbows out, fingers on your shoulders.
- Rotate your shoulders forward 3x’s (not just your arms) then rotate backwards 3x’s.
So, it turns out it’s not good to stand all day either! Truly, moderation in all things. You could even do some of these standing as well.
The “W” Pose
- Imagine yourself hang gliding or skydiving (because both require your arms to be in a “W” position, visualize the “Wind” in your face and hair!)
- From sitting or standing position, put your arms in a “W” shape, elbows bent, forearms and palms forward. Inhale, and as you exhale, draw the shoulders down and back toward one another (elbow also are drawn down). This engages those upper back postural muscles, and creates a stretch across the chest or “pec” muscles. Inhale, come back to center.
- Do this movement a few times, then hold the shoulders/arms down and back for a count of 8-10 seconds. Feel free to repeat at least 3x’s a day, or more.
- Draw the navel toward the spine to prevent overarching the back, and keep the natural curves of the spine.
- Great pose to do every time you drink some water, use the restroom, or whatever cue you’d like to use (yes, multiple times a day!)
The Lion Pose
- This pose is will scare everyone out of your way, at the office or while driving. Try it, it works! Oh, and it also releases jaw tension as well. Bonus: kids love it, so teach them!
- Best done sitting, hands palms down on the thighs,
- Inhale, and as you exhale (and you exhale completely, so it goes on for a little while), hinge forward from the hips slightly, keep the length/strength through the back, open the mouth as far and wide and you can, stick out the tongue as far as you can, and open those eyes nice and wide.
- Come back to upright, rest, notice the effect it has in releasing and recharging the throat, the jaw, the mouth. Repeat at least 3x’s. Take your time.
- Affirm: before, during, or after, “I purify my thoughts, my deeds, my every action.”
Warrior 1 — The Lunge
- You need this pose to stretch the hip flexors on the front of the hip, those muscles that get so tight from all the sitting, driving, etc.
- Can be done standing or sitting. I’ll describe it sitting, preferably a padded chair. Turn so the seat of chair supports the right thigh, you can hold onto the back of the chair with the right arm, and the left leg is bent and the thigh gently drawn behind you with the left foot on the floor.
- Gently anchor your navel toward the spine to prevent the low back from over arching, and also gently tuck the tailbone under or forward (similar to tucking the tailbone in a cat pose), which should allow you to feel the front of the hip stretching.
- As an option, raise that left arm upward, but keep your shoulder gently drawn downward.
- Hold for about 5 breaths, or about 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Affirm: “I attune my will to the source of all power.”
Pidgeon — The Figure 4 Stretch
- Another essential, daily pose to keep the back of the hip muscles open so they don’t pull on the low back.
- Slide forward to the edge of your chair.
- Cross the left leg over the right bent knee, right foot stays on the floor.
- Lengthen upward through the natural curves of the spine, which should slightly intensify the stretch in the left back of the hip. Breathe 4-5 times, or about 20-30 seconds.
- Once that stretch subsides, you can then hinge forward from the hips, keep the back long and strong, with shoulders down and back toward each other. Rest, and repeat on the other side.
- Affirm: “I rise above all thoughts of past and future, into the eternal now.”
Head to the Knee Pose — Hamstring/calf stretch
- To start, note that if you are like most people, your head will get nowhere near your knee, and that’s okay!
- From sitting on that edge of the chair, keep your right leg in a right angle with knee bent and right foot on the floor, then stretch out the left leg, placing the palms gently on each thigh, hinge forward at the hips, and keep the back strong and lengthened, with the shoulders down and gently drawn toward one another.
- Point and flex the left foot a few times, then hold in flexion, toes pointing toward you, keeping that good posture of the back and the shoulders. Breathe 4-5 times, or about 20-30 seconds. Rest, and repeat on the other side.
- Affirm: “Left and right and all around me, life’s harmonies are mine.”
There are many other poses you could do, but these some of the essential poses that could be done everyday, mutiple times a day, to keep the energy flowing.
Combine these some of the pranayama/breathing techniques, perhaps especially watching the breath, with an affirmation, blending into stillness, and you would have yourself a full course of inner peace.
As it promises in the Bhagavad Gita, “Even a little practice of yoga and meditation will save you from dire fears and colossal suffering.”