5 Yoga Poses to Relieve Stress at Work
No matter whether you’re the most easy-going gal around, stress can get to all of us. Your back tenses up. Maybe you get a headache. You might snap at your loved ones. Stress is unavoidable; we’re only human after all. And when it comes to work, even the most organized of people can get stressed out. But there are ways to combat stress and yoga is a wonderful option.
Before we get into how yoga can help relieve stress, let’s discuss a few other quick ways to relax — especially during the work day when you maybe can’t get to the gym or pop off for a yoga class, which you may only get to do before or after work.
Quick Stress Relievers
- Walk Around: Take a quick walk around the block or do a few flights of stairs at a comfortable pace. Getting up and moving helps keep your blood flowing, sending oxygen to your brain. You’ll clear your mind and recharge yourself.
- Take Deep Breaths: When you feel tension building, push back from your desk, close your eyes, visualize a “happy place” and take five to 10 deep, relaxing breaths to bring yourself back to a calm place and again focus your mind. This also works if you’re stuck in traffic — just keep your eyes on the road!
- Stretch it Out: Your body always benefits from movement and stretching. Stand up, shake off (literally just shake out your arms, hands, legs, head, etc.) and do some easy stretches at your desk or in the break room. Bend over, touch your toes and hold that pose for 30 seconds. Raise your arms over your head, clasp your hands and stretch up and from side to side. Raise and lower your shoulders. Stand up and sit down without using your hands to assist (this will help activate your core).
- Listen to Music: Not all music calms us down. You may love dance music or heavy metal, but it’s stimulating. Classical music works to calm the mind. We like to listen to this fantastic mix of the “100 Most Beautiful Songs” and have found it helps us get more centered.
5 Yoga Poses to Relieve Stress
Now if you do find that you have time to get in a yoga class or two per week, great. If not, below are five easy poses you can do at home before or after work — or even at your desk if you have some space. Why yoga? In general, the ancient practice is a great stress reducer. When you have high stress, your brain releases a large amount of the hormone cortisol, which helps you deal with physical and emotional emergencies, into your body. This can lead to ulcers, weight gain and illness. So when you do yoga, you focus on your breathing, which helps to calm your mind and racing thoughts and brings those false emergencies into check. If you practice yoga, even a few minutes a day, using the following poses, you should be able to help reduce stress in your daily life.
Seated Cat/Cow is a chest and collar bone opener and warms up your spine
Standing Half Moon with one hand on desk lengthens the spine and stretches the side of your body
Eagle Arms relieves tension at base of the neck and shoulder
Twisted Chair Pose (left) helps to wring out and lengthen the spine while detoxifying organs (you can do a variation on this — a chair twist (right)— and stretch your spine while seated at your desk)
And for a little animated fun … the finger roll (first gif), forearm stretch (not shown), wrist roll (2nd gif) and shake (just shake out your hands and arms) all help to prevent carpal tunnel.