3 Ways to be an Office Yogi

For those of you who sit at office desks all day, you’re more than familiar with the strain that computer work puts on the human body. Prolonged desktop-computer work causes shoulders to tense and round forward. It causes you to clench your teeth and jaw, and generally encourages holding tension in the upper body that just isn’t good for physical or mental well-being.

Bring Your Yoga Practice to the Office

The first step in releasing the tension brought on by desk-work is to be fully conscious of the body. Remember: even though your shoulders might slouch forward when they’re plopped in front of a computer, they are exactly the same shoulders you used to extend into all those empowering goddess poses at your last yoga class. The only difference between the two environments is the way your mind interacts with your body. When you’re hyper-focused on all the thoughts flitting between your eyes and the computer screen, it’s all too easy to slump over and forget about your body until a sharp pain reminds you that you to sit up straight.

A regular yoga practice will help body awareness become an integral part of daily office life. One of the first visible signs of body awareness of course is good posture — a straight spine, relaxed shoulders, and an aligned neck — and yoga helps improve each these elements by encouraging core strength and a balanced self-corrective mentality. The more conscious of the body you naturally are throughout the day, the more likely you are to catch that slouch and gently correct it. For those who want to take it a step further and desire even a little more integration between yoga class and daily life, there’s chair yoga. Chair yoga is a great way to practice yoga at work without attracting a lot of attention. These simple upper body exercises help release tension in the head and neck and promote a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

Remember Your Eyeballs

After the spine, a computer worker’s eyes are easily the most at-risk part of their anatomy. Eyes just aren’t built to stare at a bright, two-dimensional screen for hours on end. Between 64 percent and 90 percent of all people who work with computers develop computer vision syndrome, a form of severe eye strain that includes eye dryness and irritation as well as headaches and neck pain.

One of the unsung benefits of at-work yoga exercises are that they force you to look away from the screen. To take your eye care a step further; follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break from the screen and look at something 20(ish) feet away. This will help relieve digital eye strain and prevent long-term eye damage.

Dress the Part

One often overlooked benefit of bringing a yogic awareness into the workplace is that it encourages you to be comfortable in your own skin. Professional dress is an important status signal in our society, but not all of the professional dress conventions are healthy. High heels anyone? Greater body awareness inevitably awakens a sense of caring for body holistically.

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t just mean eating well, it means caring for everything from your mental well-being to the health of the tiniest bones in your toes. It’s only natural that with increased awareness, some of the more harmful professional fashion conventions will go out the window. Now, it’s not going to work to wear your yoga pants to work, but there is a lot of middle ground between gym clothes and constricting pantsuits. How do you navigate that no-man’s land? The key to maintaining a professional appearance while disavowing harmful fashion conventions is to patiently and deliberately build a work wardrobe that’s polished and coordinated but also allows you a full range of movement and comfort. Stick with classics like wrap dresses and cropped slacks. They won’t leave you feeling restricted, and you’ll look and feel great.

For many modern workers, computer-work is a necessary part of the job. Integrating your yoga practice with office life will help keep your body healthy and happy.

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