YOGA AT THE OFFICE / ON A CHAIR / AT A DESK

I was sitting at work today and was completely longing to go upside down. I’ve been getting lots more hang time there of late and it’s becoming so much fun, and bit by bit I’ve been noticing I’m more comfortable being the other way up every time I practice it. However, I’m still on the fence about whether it’s ok to just bust out inversion poses at work where well, no one really sees anyone else upside down much at all. Maybe soon I will, just at the kitchen area, and say an upside down hi to my colleagues.. Yes, that would make me totally less strange..

Which brings us to work yoga! Some of you have classes at your offices, which is brilliant, and if you do, do give them a go as it’s so beneficial to get some flexi time to break up your day and bring some breath and stretch into your body. But those of us that don’t (yet), I’ve pondered on some yoga moves that wouldn’t look too conspicuous at your desk.. so here are my top picks! :)

REVOLVED CHAIR POSE  | Parivrtta Utkatasana |

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• With both your feet on the floor, extend your body forward leading with your head and fold from the hips.
• Take your right hand and place is on the outside of the right foot, using your upper arms and elbow for a light leverage
• Rotate your torso, leading with your heart, as far up as you feel like
• If comfortable, lift the right hand up towards the sky!

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• Here, you can increase the twist by taking that lifted right hand over your back to your left hip.
• Stay here and breathe.
• Repeat on the other side.

To check your alignment, look to check that your nose is over your big toes! This pose is such a great relief for the lower back as we often hardly move it for hours on end at our desks. The shoulders, neck and upper back get such a nice openness from this pose which is such a welcome break in the day.

Note: If you want to be less conspicuous with that high reaching arm but you can’t bind, you can still do this pose but instead of binding your arm, you can just place it where comfortable on your back. :)

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HALF LORD OF THE FISHES POSE VARIATION  | Half Matsyendra Variation |

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• Start by sitting upright, leading up with the tip of your head.
• Slowly, leading with your chest, twist to the right. Really make sure you lead with your chest and not just your head.
• Take the right hand to aid your twist and hold here for a few breaths.
• Repeat for the other side.

IMG_4074This twist gives a good stretch to the neck, back, shoulders but also stimulates digestive fire (good to do before lunch!) and is a nice one to boost your energy when you start to feel tired.

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HALF LOTUS WITH BACKBEND  | Ardha Padmasana |

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• Take one foot up onto your lap and and close to your body.
• Leading with your chest, raise it upwards to the ceiling while drawing your shoulder blades back.
• Tip your head back, taking care to still keep the shoulder blades down your back and not cramping up near your head.

If comfortable here, try the deeper backbend next! You can keep one foot in lotus position or if you are finding it a little unstable, take both feet to be on the floor. Try to reach the top of your chair if you want to give it a go! But be careful not to push your body too far or strain anything. Just go as far as is comfortable.

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I love heart openers as it gives such a wash of energy when you need it. I find them so vital to do to combat the amount of sitting over our desks we do these days. And with the days being shorter, the more heart openers we can do everyday the more light we let into ourselves.

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LOTUS POSE  | Padmasana |

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• Start by taking the right leg up, and really opening the hip. Play around here, move it all angles to release tension held in here.
• From there place foot on top of the left leg, like in half lotus above.
• Take the left leg and try place it above the right thigh. This makes quite a pretzel-like shape!
• If you can’t go into full lotus, stay in half lotus, or simply cross your legs as you naturally would.
• Then hold your knees with your hands, tilt your weight back, chin up, chest up and hold your balance!

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Such a nice pose to restore your balance in your body and mind. It calms the brain, and stimulates your pelvis, spine, abdomen, bladder and generally is a such a restorative pose. Be sure to breathe and relax your muscles while you’re here and don’t hold any tension, even when trying to find your balance. You find that you will find it quicker when you relax, and just feel for it instead of pushing hard to find it.

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SCALE POSE  | Tolasana |

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• If you’re able to hold lotus in the above pose, lets try Scale!
• From the above pose, come back down to a seated position, with legs still in lotus.
• Place your hands on either side of your thighs and hold the sides of your chair.
• Now, lift and hold!

To your colleagues this will just look like you’re peering very closely at your screen.. :D One of my favourite poses, this is great to build strength in the arms and shoulders. Remember, don’t hold tension in your body, relax into the pose!

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COW FACE POSE  | Gomukhasana |

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• With feet on the floor, hold your arms stretched out to your side.
• Lift your right hand up, and your left hand down in a circular motion (like a clock) and try and bind your hands together behind your back.
• Stay here for a few breaths.
• Repeat on the other side.

Important notes: The crucial thing with this pose is to make sure your shoulder blades are both kept down. It doesn’t matter if your hands cannot touch behind your back. Also, you might find that one side is easier to do than the other, so don’t worry!

So! Let me know how you get on with doing these in the office.. Anyone noticed? Any funny colleague’s surprised faces? Snap a picture and share it with me! I’d love to see what you do!!!!

(Instagram: @charlenelim, #YogaLovewithChar, Twitter: @charlenelim, or if we’re friends on Facebook, grab me there!! :) )

 

TEARS IN HEAVEN

Death happens everywhere, to everyone and is such an inevitable, sad, beautiful thing in life. I tell you what though, the pain never leaves you. Not an angsty frustrated pain, but just a slow burner. It is something I didn’t quite think I’d have to face so early in life but one cannot predict these things nor can we fully prepare for it. So sometimes when pain washes over you, I’m thankful for songs like this that can express everything you’re feeling without me having to use much words, because it is quite an unexplainable sensation. Something like a mixture of fear, deep sadness, regret, hopelessness, but yet, a calm.

They never are inconvenient feelings, feelings crop up when they do and we should never be shy or ashamed of them when they do wash you over in ‘unsuitable’ locations. Like work for example! Or in the middle of a dinner party.. yes it’s happened!

You can’t avoid them, so don’t suppress it. Let the feelings happen, process them and feel them even though it might make you cry, its alright. Crying isn’t bad, and crying isn’t ‘unsuitable’, because hey, we’re all human, we have emotions and it’s what makes us who we are. Suppression never helped anyone, trust me. Then try to stay positive, think of all the great times (yes this might make you cry a little more) but it’s important to uphold loved ones in our thoughts and memories. And through this, let yourself feel everything, the bad, the good, the sad, the angry.

And hey, remember you’re not alone in this. Look to your friends and loved ones for support – a hug, a quick text, a chat. There’s no need to hide your feelings. Share and the load is always lighter.

YOGA POSES TO STOP FEELING S.A.D.

Oh what a depressing little topic!! Even as I say so, I smile a little as it does sound like an absurd disorder, and to be honest, who wants to be labelled with having any kind of disorder?

The excerpt from Wiki says ‘Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summer blues or seasonal depression, was considered a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental healthy throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer.’

Interesting, as I never thought it could affect anyone in the summer.

Symptoms include:
• Difficulty waking up in the morning
• Nausea
• Oversleeping and overeating
• Lack of energy
• Difficulty in concentrating
• Withdrawal from social activities
• All which leads to pessimistic feelings in life

Symptoms for summer SADness swing the other way; instead of oversleeping you have insomnia, instead of overeating you lose your appetite, but still same for the social withdrawals.

I’m not 100% sure why I am writing about this; I am slightly subdued these past weeks but I am not sure if it is my general sadness from returning back from a winter dreamland in the mountains to ‘real life’ or SADness from the season. Either way, there are treatments like sunlights, dawn simulation to wake you up in the mornings, melatonin supplements but you know, they seem a little overkill for me right now.

Yes I have a pretty difficult time waking up these days, and I feel nauseous, lacking in energy, zone out really quickly and feel kind of low for non specific reasons. But I’m not going to get a lamp.. just yet.

Instead, I’ve been raiding my yoga mind for what poses that will spring some energy back into my day. True, it has been harder getting onto the mat, but once you start, the concentration slowly returns and slowly but surely you do feel better.

1HEART
OPENERS!

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So you’ve got a sad feeling heart, let’s get them open with heart opening poses. Not only does it make you feel really great in general to really get space in that chest, it reduces stresses held in that area throughout the day from bending forward so regularly. Pigeon pose (above) releases stress in the hip area and with the variation here that includes a little backbend, you’re getting your heart nice and open too.

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Camel pose (above) is a serious fixer for racing minds and relieving stress in the hips and lower back. I find a great sense of freedom when I am in this pose. The wide open chest, the gaze backwards and upside down – it really makes you feel like you’ve surrendered to the day and are completely in the moment.

2SEATED
STRETCHES!

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Right after you’ve stirred from your sleep, seated stretches are brilliant to do. Why? Because you can still sit in bed while you do it (mainly) and it wakes you up slowly and gives you just that little energy injection to get on with the day. I am the worst at waking up (I totally dislike it) and honestly, this does work.. once you’ve sat up in bed that is. Above is a wide angle seated side stretch, but any of the seated stretches will do. The idea is to get those sleepy lead-laden leg muscles invigorated and ready to get you stepping out of bed. Always bend from the hips, don’t round your back and go as far as you’re comfortable!

3DOWNWARD
DOG

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Now your legs are warmed up, and you’re out of bed, right before you step into the bathroom to brush your teeth, get some hang time in downward dog. Three legged, three legged with a bend, bent knees, forearm dog, just get down there! This pose stretches the whole body, and as you push those hips up, you’re really awakening your mind as you concentrate on doing so. Stay here for as many breaths as you want, or do as many variations of downward dog as you want – the important thing is that you spent your few minutes taking time to breathe some energy into your body.

10-15 minutes is all you need in the morning to spend some time preparing your body and mind for the day ahead. Yoga doesn’t have to be hour to two hour long stretches of your chunk of the day with yoga clothes and a proper mat – get doing it anywhere, anytime, and wearing whatever it is you’re wearing at the time. Your body and mind will thank you for it :) A yoga pose (or two) a day will keep the SADness away!