Whether you started working from home, started an online business, got your Uber license, had a baby or have been sitting for prolonged periods for any other reason (Netflix, anyone?) – you may have noticed yourself sitting a lot more over the past couple of years! In other words, moving your body less and stressing your mind more.
If your home office (or the equivalent) set-up is less than ideal, you’re probably familiar with stiff shoulders, back discomfort, pinchy hips, overworked eyes, the merging of work and personal life into one neverending sit-a-thon…Many of us are aware of the quote, ‘sitting is the new smoking’ and while we’re not fans of sensationalist headlines, there’s no doubt that sitting for prolonged periods can have a detrimental effect on our health.
So we’ve put together a survival guide for preventing and dealing with working-from-home aches and pains – including yoga poses and exercises to ease tension in your body and mind!
Sitting for long periods of time is the first suspect when it comes to tight hip flexors. Whether your posture is perfect or you’re slouched over, extended sitting sessions will shorten your hip flexors.
The ‘hip flexors’ include multiple muscles which support the pelvis in balancing over the legs. The main ones are the iliopsoas (the psoas major and the iliacus together), the rectus femoris (one of the quadriceps) and the sartorius.
Simple actions can help improve balance between the legs, pelvis and back, which relieve and release the hip flexors, including:
Sensations of the psoas are subtle. This hip flexor (which most of us had never even heard of until a yoga teacher mentioned it) is buried in the lower lumbar region, extends through the pelvis to the femur and tends to engage in habitual holding patterns – especially when sitting a lot.
The psoas flexes the hip joint and lifts the upper leg towards the body – it’s in action when you’re walking.
Deeply linked to emotions, the psoas responds best to quiet attention, patience, and perseverance. And here are some yoga poses to nurture that:
Shoulders have a leading role in almost every yoga pose, and much of life in general. Their mobility and flexibility, or lack thereof, affects us constantly – especially while many of us are relentlessly hunched over phones, computers and steering wheels, which means our shoulders are in protraction for long periods.
Strength is important, but so are flexibility and mobility. These yoga poses will provide a stretch to open the smallest fibres between your joints:
The spine moves forward and backward (flexion and extension), side to side (lateral flexion), and twists too. Sitting loads, especially if slumping over a computer, encourages flexion but misses out all the other movements.
Adding side bending, back bending and twisting to the natural forward motion of sitting helps improve posture and reduce back pain by bringing strength and flexibility to the muscles that stabilise the spine. These yoga poses do just that:
Are your eyes dry, scratchy, burning or tired? Is your vision blurry? Screen time strains the eyes – whether you’re working from home or binging on Netflix, most of our oculus uterque are suffering. Tired eyes can lead to headaches and difficulty concentration, as well as physical ailments such as tight shoulders and back pain.
We can remedy eye strain with care, rest and yoga. Try these eye strengthening exercises:
- Move. Without moving your head, look up and down, left and right, and diagonally a few times each way.
- Close/Blink. Keep your eyes moist by lowering your lids regularly.
- Warm. Rub your palms together, then place your warm hands gently over closed eyes.
- Stare. Focus your eyes and stare at an object without blinking.
And a few yoga poses to sort out your sore eyes:
Whether you’ve got a minute or an hour – treat yourself to a break from sitting! Try some of our yoga suggestions, or just stand up, shake it off (literally!) or have a mini dance-off! “You put your whole self in, you take your whole self out, you put your whole self in and you shake it all about…”
Office body rehab!
This practice is for you if you have been spending a lot of time sitting – whether that be at a desk, at the kitchen table or on the couch. In this practice, we will work on our core, glutes, and back, while adding in plenty of yummy stretches, twists, and opportunities for relaxation. Hopefully it’ll be just the reset your body has been craving!
Main photo courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto.