Many of us are working from home during the pandemic which has its pros and cons. It may certainly be nice not having a commute, but on the other hand, our at-home work stations, whether it’s an office or the kitchen table, may not be super ergonomic. To keep the body happy, pliable and pain free, here are some everyday stretches you can do to undo your home office posture. For this sequence you can use a large towel.
Fold your towel into thirds and roll it up into a bolster. Place the rolled-up towel between your ankles while standing on your shins and take a seat on the towel. Stretch your arms forward at shoulder height palms facing up. Stretch the fingers out wide on one palm and point the fingers downward toward the ground. With your other hand wrap one finger at a time and on the exhale stretch each finger downwards away from the wrist. Repeat with each finger and follow up with the other hand. For the counter stretch, reach out both arms wide into a “T” at shoulder height. Make stop signs with your palms and take a breath in pressing the palms away from your center. On the exhale curl one finger down at a time into a fist and then curl the whole fist towards the ground. Repeat the process from “T” arms one more time.
Shoulder Floss with Strap
Stand up on your shins and unfold your towel. Grasp the towel ends overhead and pull the towel apart. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and on the exhale dip the towel behind you slowly, while still pulling it apart. Bring the arms slowly back up overhead and repeat three more times, pausing anywhere that could use an extra breath or two.
Take a cross legged seat on the edge of your folded towel. Place the right hand on the floor next to your hips and drop your right ear towards your right shoulder. With the left arm extended, point and reach the fingertips away from your neck towards the ground. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side. Optional, add slow neck movements forward and back while keeping the chin very heavy.
Hip Flexors and Shoulder Release
Step your right foot forward into a low lunge with the back knee on the ground. Make sure you have a right angle in both knees and hips and keep your legs hips-distance wide. Stretch the arms out wide into a “T,” wrap your right elbow under the left and intertwine the wrists (eagle arms). On an inhale lengthen the elbows away from your shoulders, and on the exhale stretch sideways to the right. Repeat, lunge, eagle arms and side-bend on the second side.
Lazy Pigeon Pose to Open the Hips
Sit on your right hip and bend your knee to a right angle. Reach your left leg back behind you keeping your knee bent at a right angle also. Try to get both legs at a right angle to each other. Turn your chest towards your right shin, perpendicular to you, and fold over your right shin. Relax the head and neck.
Psoas Stretch/Low Back Relief
Roll your towel back into a bolster and place it underneath the sacrum and hips while lying on your back. Bring the right knee into your chest and extend the left leg long towards the floor. Hug the right knee tighter into the chest to release the low back. Stretch the left leg longer and lower to the floor to open up the hip flexors. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the second side.
Figure 4 Twist for Hips and Back
On your back cross your right ankle over your left knee. Keep the figure-four shape and let the legs fall to the left. “T”-out your arms and turn your gaze away from the legs to the right. Take five breaths and repeat on the second side.
Savasana with Neck Traction
Roll up your towel into a roll the width of a tennis ball. Lie on your back and spread out the arms and the legs comfortably. Tuck the rolled-up towel at the base of the head (right where the neck and your head meet) for some gentle traction. Keep the back of the neck long and your chin heavy. Rest for five minutes.
Photos courtesy of Coolidge Yoga.