Turning Workplace Stress into a Simple Stretch

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You want to exercise, you want to relieve stress and tension, but you don’t have anytime to leave the office. What’s a busy professional to do? Lucky for you there’s an easy solution. There are many yoga-based stretching exercises you can do anywhere, anytime, whether you’re in your office, at the grocery store or even in bed.

Workplace stress has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. Stress rates in the workplace have grown significantly in the past few years. The American Institute for Stress has implicated stress as the cause of nearly 90% of doctor visits in the U.S. The total annual costs of stress to the average employer are staggering.

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This increase in stress has, for many companies, resulted in: 1) reduced productivity and morale, 2) increased injury (including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome), 3) higher costs for health benefits, and 4) greater turnover. Yoga can help. Yoga offers definitive results such as: reduced tension in the body and mind, increased energy, improved concentration and increased strength and flexibility for greater stress resistance and fewer workplace injuries. Yoga exercises are simple and can be modified for different skill levels and abilities – perfect for the office environment.

The popularity of workplace yoga is spreading, as companies nationwide (including IBM, Microsoft, Nike, Intel, AT&T, GE to name a few) are embracing the practice as a low cost method of stress reduction that is extremely easy to implement. But, what if your company doesn’t offer an on-site yoga program or you work from home or with a small group? No problem. There are a number of simple ways to bring the benefits of yoga into your daily life right now.

To feel your best at work:

1) Take a few minutes to focus on your breath.

When we’re anxious and stressed our breath becomes shallow. Notice the quality of your breath and improve the quality by using the following techniques:

• Breathe through your nose. This slows your breath, lowers your heart rate, filters out allergens and relieves tension.

• Breathe slowly and smoothly to relax your mind and body.

• Relax your belly as you breathe, so your belly gently rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale. This allows for proper movement of your diaphragm, relaxes your muscles and brings oxygen to the lower part of your lungs where oxygen exchange is most efficient, increasing your energy.

 

• Focus on your breath. Just a few minutes of focusing on your breath keeps you in the present moment and thereby relieves the anxiety and mental chatter around past and future events.

2) Take a few minutes every hour to do some simple stretches.

Stretching throughout the day will:

• Reduce muscle tension.

• Improve circulation.

• Reduce anxiety, stress and fatigue.

• Improve mental alertness.

• Tune your mind into your body.

Here is a simple stretch you can try right now.

Crescent Stretch

• Stand with your feet parallel, about hip width apart.

• Raise arms overhead interlacing fingers (chest open, shoulders back)

• Exhale, reaching your hands to the right.

• Take 3 long slow breaths (while reaching to the right)

• Inhale, reaching your hands up, back to center.

• Exhale, reaching hands to left (3 breaths)

• Inhale, back to center

• Repeat 4-5 times

• Release arms and shake them out.

Stretch Benefits:

• Improves circulation and increases energy

• Tones, stretches and relieves tension in muscles in your arms, shoulders, chest, back and abdomen

• Limbers your spine

• Trims your waistline

Give yourself five minutes a day to practice simple yoga-based breathing and stretching exercises. Don’t be surprised when, within a few weeks, you feel more energy and less stress on the job.


Nancy Wile is a long-time yoga teacher and the founder of Yoga To Go. She has a doctorate in education and has spent many years teaching people about their health and wellness. She created the popular “Work is a Stretch” program, which people can watch from their computer, while doing the exercises from their desks. To view additional free yoga exercises that are quick, simple and effective, please visit =>http://www.YogaTG.com or http://www.workisastretch.com


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