Relieving the stress of work with yoga

Poor posture at work, long hours sitting in front of the computer, fast-paced days and a busy head? That's a perfect recipe for an exhausted mind and and weakened body. Yoga can help reduce work-related pains. 

Yoga to relieve your stressed body

Your office chair is your single worst enemy! Your whole body suffers from the hours it spends sitting down. Certain repetitive movements related to work, especially when using digital tools, also affect the tendons, muscles, joints and nerves.

Yoga uses stretching and strengthening poses to counterbalance these movements or postures and reduce or even eliminate their detrimental effects. Yoga also has a preventive effect by improving your posture.

The neck, shoulders and back are generally the first to suffer. Some simple poses will help quickly relieve them:

Soothing the neck

The Wide-Legged Forward Bend pose relieves tension in the neck, which is completely relaxed and no longer needs to support the weight of the head, bringing calmness and serenity instead. This pose also stretches out the whole of the back of your body.

Place your feet around 1 metre apart, breathe in deeply while raising the arms and making yourself big, then breathe out while slowly bending forwards towards the ground, keeping your back straight. You can bend your elbows and accentuate the pose from your hips. Hold for 30 seconds, then straighten yourself up while breathing in. If you can't bend your body this much, don't go beyond your limits: the flexibility will gradually come.

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Stretching the shoulders

The Cobra pose opens up the stomach and shoulders - which tend to get hunched during the hours spent in front of a screen - and strengthens the back.

Lie face down on the floor and place your hands alongside your shoulders. Raise your torso while slowly breathing in. Gently turn your head up towards the ceiling and hold for 3 - 5 breaths, then breathe out and lay your body back on the floor. Warning - do not do this if you have a back injury.

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Relaxing the back

The Knees to Chest pose acts like a self-administered back massage and guarantees instant relief from tension.

Raise your head towards your knees and roll back and forth while breathing calmly. You can also just keep your head on the floor and put your chin on your chest to stretch out the whole of your spinal column. Hold this relaxation pose for as long as you want.

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Loosening and strengthening the joints

The Downward-Facing Dog pose strengthens and loosens the wrists, shoulders and ankles, while toning the arms, legs and back. It also enables the back of the body to be stretched and immediately relieved, which makes it excellent for preventing pain.

Get down on all fours. Breathe in while stretching out your legs, then breathe out while tilting your body up, keeping your shoulders and hands in line. Gently bend your legs - it is important to reduce the gap between your thighs and stomach. Also push your buttocks upwards and your heels downwards. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 3 minutes while breathing deeply.

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Yoga for relieving stress

The second problem related to busy days at work is stress. Do you have trouble managing this? Yoga will be a good friend to you! Focus your mind on the series of poses; the feelings in your body and the rhythm of your breathing will instantly lower your stress level.

Also find out why family yoga is a great idea!

Carrying out a series lasting several minutes

Regularly repeat a series of poses at home or at work while breathing properly. The general rule is to breathe in when opening up the body and breathe out when closing it. As the days go by, try to make your breaths longer and longer.

To respect the balance of the body, a toning pose should be followed by a counter-pose. For example, use the cobra posture - the back-flexing pose that opens out the chest - to compensate for the hunched position you adopt at work in front of your computer. Then relax your body with a reverse pose such as the Child's pose. The counter-pose should be held for at least twice as long as the initial pose.

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Giving yourself a break to meditate

Give yourself a short meditative break to counteract the stress that can affect you at work. Sitting on your chair, focus on the flow of thoughts in your head while breathing calmly. During times of stress, we tend to see our worries as a waterfall that is overwhelming us. Take a step back and consider them as if you were standing calmly behind the waterfall.

It's not about waiting to be in the right frame of mind or having nothing else to do when you practise yoga. Think of it instead as a healthy place to make your priority when the holidays are over.

You can find out more about yoga, ideas for practising it and inspiration at Yoga Journal France.