You might have heard the expression that sitting is the new smoking. That is because it has been connected with several health problems such as heart attack, metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes risk. Some experts say that it can lead to early death as well. Bit extreme, isn’t it? Okay, you can ignore the last one. But, other health problems are a serious threat to your well being. And, yes, they have been backed up by research. You can find the research here.
However, sitting is part of your job, something that you can’t avoid, just like your overbearing boss. But, you can take some steps to tackle the problems caused by sitting all day. For example, you can make it a point to get up every once in an hour, or even better, take strolls whenever possible. Also, you can opt to do some of the work while standing.
Apart from taking the above mentioned measures, you can do yoga to manage back problems and other health problems caused by sitting all day. The yoga can help in alleviating the physical strain as well as mental stress of working all day long. Here are six yoga poses that could be extremely helpful.
Whether it is to develop software programs or to prepare database reports, the wrists usually take a lot of stress. Almost every modern job puts a lot of strain on the wrists. And, to make the matters worse, most keyboards are placed wrong due to which either the wrists have to be arched upwards or stooped low. Give them a break with this gentle stretch.
Get on your all fours, with palms firmly planted on the floor and fingertips pointing forward. Now, slowly rotate your right wrist, so that the fingertips are pointing backwards and wrist is pointing forward. Repeat with your left hand as well. Hold the breath for a moment and then repeat. If you want to take this yoga pose to another level, you can opt to add cat-cow poses by dropping your belly and arching your back as you rotate your wrists.
The hours spent hunched before the computer can eventually take a toll on your back. And, by the way, do you know that sitting for more than one hour can lead to temporary shortening of your back muscles, leading to insufferable stiffness and back pain? Downward dog is a perfect solution for the back pain and stiffness as it opens up your back and your hamstrings, which strengthens your back. Also, it will make your upper back more flexible and less likely to store so much tension. Plus, it is great to bring back lost energy, which means it is perfect for those of us who are just tired from a long day at the office.
And, it is a very easy pose. All you have to do is get on your all fours, tuck your toes, lift your hips and bring your heels towards the ground. Hold this position for five breaths. Those who have advanced level of fitness can opt to hold it for longer.
However, being easy doesn’t mean that people don’t make any mistake while doing it. The most common mistake associated with downward dog is that people often draw their shoulders up to compensate for the lack of upper body strength. If you are doing so, you are liable to suffer neck strain, shoulder pain, and headaches. If you feel your shoulders are tensing up, then it is the time to move out of the pose.
The more you sit, the tighter your hip muscles will be. And, the pigeon pose is one of the best yoga moves to open up your hips muscles. Plus, it is effective in lengthening the hip flexor and making it stronger. Also, as this yoga pose stretches the hip rotators (the buttocks area) and the hip flexors (the long muscles that run along the front of your thighs and pelvis), it is perfect to promote flexibility in your hip muscles. Other collateral benefits of doing pigeon pose includes improved hip flexibility, better posture, alignment, and overall suppleness, and diminished lower back pain and stiffness.
We will use the downward dog as the starting position for this pose. Lift your right leg up and swing it through so that your shin is parallel to the mat in front of you. While making sure your hips are squared off, bring your palms forward and rest your forehead on the mat. Now, if your hip is too high off the ground, you can opt to tuck a blanket or a block under it. Hold the pose for five seconds and then repeat on the other side. The pigeon pose can be bit confusing and intimidating to do. To make it easier for you, here is a tutorial video of the pose.
Ankle to Knee
You can take hip stretching a step ahead with this yoga pose. The ankle to knee pose along with opening and stretching the hips, also stretches the groins and buttocks gently. Plus, it can help in alleviating anxiety, tension and stress.
To do this yoga pose, sit upright and stack right leg over the left. This should bring your right ankle on top of your left knee. Now, if you don’t feel a good stretch in this position or feel your hips haven’t opened up, you can opt to crawl your fingertips forward to deepen the stretch. The beginners can opt to hold the upright position only. Hold the position for three breaths and repeat on the opposite side. Please note that the number of breaths written in this article for every yoga pose is for general fitness. Depending on your own fitness level, you can opt to increase or decrease number of breaths for every yoga pose.
Knee to Knee
This is another yoga pose that could assist in opening up tight hip muscles and in relaxing your cramped lower back. It also provides a good stretch to the iliotibial band. It is a thick muscle band that extends from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and ends just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, as it moves from behind the femur to the front of the femur during activity.
Assume the upright seated position. Now, stack your right knee on top of your left one. Once again if you want to feel even better stretch, you can opt to crawl your fingertips forward to deepen the stretch. Hold for three breaths, and then repeat on the opposite side.
Thread the Needle
This yoga pose is perfect to relieve the shoulder tension and tightness. Believe me, they are going to be in pretty bad shape from hunching all day in front of your computer. In fact, the shoulder tightness is as common as lower back stiffness. But, we often tend to notice the former lot lesser that the latter. This yoga pose will not only diffuse the tension built up on and around your shoulders, but will also lead to more mobility in shoulder.
Get on your all fours. Now, thread your right arm underneath your left arm until your shoulder is resting on the ground and hold for three breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.