Release Tension: Yoga at Your Desk

by Denise Druce | April 3rd, 2013 | Fitness Expert

smileAccording to the American Psychological Association (APA), self-reported stress levels among adult Americans are at an all time high. It doesn’t stop there. In the APA’s Stress in America survey, “children say they can tell that their parents are stressed when they argue and complain, which many children say makes them feel sad and worried. Parents, however, are not fully realizing the impact their own stress is having on their children.”

I teach on a college campus, and I see it on a daily basis. Life, the economy, climate, politics and technology are all taking their toll on our young people. I’m hearing heartbreaking stories of depression, anxiety, self-harming, and suicidal thoughts. Stress has behavioral consequences which in excess definitely have physical consequences.
• Two-fifths of adults reported overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress in the past month.
• Nearly one-third said they skipped a meal because of stress in the past month.
• More than four in 10 said they had lain awake at night in the past month.
• The most common physical symptoms of stress reported were irritability (45 percent), fatigue (41 percent) and lack of energy or motivation (38 percent).

Of course I’m going to advocate yoga as a great form of stress management, but if trying to fit one more thing into your busy life stresses you out, just start with some yoga at your desk.

Here are three quick and easy stretches for your neck and spine that, when practiced with deep, slow breaths will help you take the pressure off, if even for a few moments.

See a video of these stretches here.

1) Begin with half circles for the neck. Take your right ear to your right shoulder, and then slowly move the chin across the chest, and reach the left ear to the left shoulder. Do several of those slowly with steady even breath. Stick with half circles, not dropping your head to the back.

2) After a few of those, bring your left hand to the right collarbone. Gently pull down on that shoulder, and then tilt the head to the left. This is a great stretch for the muscles in the sides of your neck. Hold the stretch for 3 to 5 deep, slow breaths and then switch sides.

3) Now a twist. Sit sideways in your chair, and reach your hands slowly to the back of the chair. Keep your spine straight and tall, and begin to turn and look over your back shoulder. Hold this stretch for three to five breaths, staying relaxed through the upper body, but opening around the shoulders. Switch sides, twisting to the other side.

After these three stretches, roll your shoulders up, back and down a few times, take a deep breath in and exhale completely. Now you’re ready to tackle the work in front of you in a more relaxed and alert state.

For more fitness and yoga tips, please visit my website www.denisedruce.com.

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