Chairga

Recently there was an article in the Huffington Post that proved you can do yoga anywhere. I expected to see photos of people doing postures on the beach, on the street corner, or on the bus.  Turns out the photos were of five Huffington Post staffers, each in a posture at the office. Call me a stickler for details but one office is not exactly ‘anywhere’. Regardless, yoga is definitely portable and can be done just about anywhere, including while sitting in your chair at your desk. So if you have been sitting in front of a computer for a while with your shoulders slowly becoming best friends with your ears and your entire spine doing a great impression of the letter ‘C’, scooch up the front of your chair and try some of my favourite chairga poses below.

Seated Cat/Cow

Sit towards the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart, hands resting on your knees. As you inhale, lift your chest, bringing your shoulder blades towards each other. Lift the chin as high as you like as the heart centre opens and the lower back arches in to a ‘C’. When you exhale, reverse the movement: round the spine, tucking the chin towards the chest, bellybutton towards the spine, shoulders rolling slightly forward.

Repeat as many times as you like, moving with the breath. This movement is not only great for the spine, it also calms the mind and focuses the breath.

Seated Twist

Twists are great for wringing out stress and tension. They create space in the torso and along the vertebrae.

Sit towards the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee and your right hand on the outside of the right hip with the elbow close to the body (or the hand can rest on the right arm of your chair). As you inhale, feel the torso fill with air and spine become long and tall. When you exhale, root the feet into the floor, keeping the knees hip-width apart. Gently push the hands down as you twist the body a few inches to the right. Inhale – fill up and root down, exhale – release the breath and twist a little more. The deeper you move into the twist, the tighter the right elbow will hug into the body. The neck and head will follow along with the spine. Remember that twists start from the waist and move up the body with the head being the last part that moves. Don’t start with the head and neck, it will create problems down the road.

Shoulder Shrugs

The relationship between shoulders and ears is like that of Romeo and Juliet – they really want to be together but in the end, it’s a really bad relationship.

Again, sit towards the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. If possible, arms hang straight down from the shoulders. The hands can also rest lightly in your knees. As you inhale long and deep, bring your shoulders up to meet your ear lobes. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then release the shoulders down quickly with a sharp exhale through the mouth, making a HA! sound. Repeat as many times as you like. You can also do this with one shoulder at a time.

Eye of the Needle

A great hip opener but beware of putting too much pressure on the knee. This also might be difficult to do if you are wearing a pencil skirt.

Sit towards the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Keeping your left foot on the floor, bend your right knee and put the ankle just above the left knee. Your hands can rest on your leg. If you need a little more of a stretch in the hips or hamstring, gently use your right hand to push your knee away from your torso. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat with the left leg.

Wrist Stretches

There are 27 bones in the hand, eight of which are in the wrist. Which means there are a lot of joints (each small bone in the wrist forms a joint to the bone next to it) that can become stiff.

Sit towards the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Lift your right arm in front of you so that it is parallel with the floor. Bend the wrist and point the fingers towards the floor; grasp the right hand with the left (left thumb is in the right palm). Make sure you keep your shoulders down, away from the ears. You can increase the stretch in the top of the wrist by using the left hand to softly bend the right wrist more. hold for 5 to 10 breaths then bend the wrist the other way with the fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Again you can increase the stretch in the bottom of the wrist by using the left hand to softly bend the right wrist more. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Release, roll the wrist a few times in each direction then repeat with the left wrist.

Smileasana

Easily the easiest posture in yoga but one we often forget to do. This posture triggers the brain to release endorphins when you do this posture which will make you feel happier and less stressed.

Sit towards the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Hands can rest gently in your lap. As you inhale, gently lift the corners of your mouth curl up into a big, beautiful U-shape. You may even feel you lips parting slightly, exposing your teeth when you do this. As you exhale, keep the lips curled up as you move the smile up to your eyes.

This posture is best experienced when shared with others, so get up and go for a walk. Smile at the next 5 people you encounter and watch your smile spread around your world.

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