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The principles of yoga can be practiced anywhere and anytime. The following breath exercise and stretches can be performed at your desk to help you relax and release stress, lengthen tight muscles, and increase energy.
1. Inhale deeply through your nose. Let the air fill the bottom of the lungs first (your abdomen will expand), then the middle of the lungs (your ribcage area), and finally the top of the lungs (your sternum will rise).
2. When you reach your full inhalation, hold your breath for a count of three and then begin a controlled exhalation. Release the air from the top of the lungs, the middle of the lungs and the bottom of the lungs. The breath should be one continuous flow from inhalation to full exhalation.
3. To gain further control of the breath, try to make your exhalation twice as long as the inhalation. For example, you can inhale to the count of three, hold the breath for three counts, and exhale to the count of six.
Stretches/Relaxers at Your Desk
1. Neck stretch: Turn head to the right, gently lower chin to the shoulder, and make a half-circle to the left shoulder. Reverse to the right.
2. Shoulder rolls: Roll your shoulders forward and backward in a smooth, circular motion.
3. Upper back stretch: Place hands on shoulders (elbows are lifted) and try to bring elbows together in front of chest as head drops forward.
4. Chest stretch: Clasp hands behind head and press elbows back.
5. Shoulder stretch: Clasp hands behind your back and slowly straighten your elbows.
6. Side stretch: Place right hand on right edge of chair seat and lift left arm to ceiling. Slowly lean to the right. Change arms and reverse sides.
7. Spinal twist: Place both hands on right armrest. Turn torso and head to the right. Hold the stretch and reverse sides.
8. Back relaxer: Gently round the torso over the legs (your chest may rest on your thighs). Slowly restack the spine to return to an upright position.
Source: Fitness Plus Inc., New York City.