Marichi Twist VariationBy George Halt

The benefits of yoga are well-documented. Flexibility, relaxed muscles, strength and tone, and the sense of calm you gain from doing yoga are great. But many individuals find that they do not have the time in their busy schedule to visit the gym, or even to spend some time in front of the TV with their favorite yoga video.

However, yoga can be done even while at the office, sitting in your chair. It may seem strange at first (especially to those around you), but working a few stretches into your day can provide much-needed relief and a little break. Most desk work in an office is somewhat bad for your muscles anyway. Repetitive tasks like typing, and the awkward position of your body as you hunch over the keyboard and crane your neck to see your monitor can put a strain on your muscles. So stretching them out a few times a day could prevent some of the soreness that comes from sitting in an office chair all day.

Start with some side stretches. Let your right hand hang down to your side, or if you have an arm rest that is comfortable, allow your right arm to lay on the rest. Reach your left arm out to our side, lifting it up over your head, pointing your fingertips up to the ceiling. Exhale as you stretch, continuing to move your hand past your head and farther over to the right side. Be sure to keep both of your hips firmly planted on the seat. Inhale, then exhale and pull the stretch even farther. When done, bring your arm slowly back across and back to your left side. Repeat with the right arm.

A spinal twist can also be done siting in your office chair. This exercises is good for your lower back. Sit with perfect posture, shoulders directly over your hips and rolled back. Sit as tall as you can, ie: reach the top of your head as close to the ceiling as you can. Inhale, then exhale slowly as you twist to the left until you are looking at the wall behind you. You can reach your right arm across and put it on the outside of your left knee to help push you around. You can move your left arm to the back of the chair’s backrest, and use that to help pull, too. Remember to exhale as you twist. Inhale, then exhale and twist some more. Slowly return to your sitting posture, then repeat toward the right. You want to keep your hips square on the seat, but let your spine twist as much as you can.

Note: if you have a reclining office chair, be sure to lock the chair in the upright position before doing the spine twist. If you have a choice, a regular chair without wheels, like stacking office chairs can be better because they do not roll or twist during the exercise.