Corner Office Anatomy – Why Your Work Gets On Your Nerves

OfficeviewIn this segment of Corner Office Anatomy, I want to talk about one of the most vital parts of your body, but one that you might not think about so often while you are in the office (or at any other time for that matter).

It’s a part of your body that could hold the key to your success or failure as a professional in this modern urban era. Still, you probably power through day after day of your career without giving it a single thought. What could be so important yet so easily ignored?

Your autonomic nervous system, of course.

Unless you are an anatomy buff, you are probably wondering what in the world is that, and what does it have to do with your workaday experiences?

The autonomic nervous system is extremely complex, and it is impossible for me to explain it you entirely in this post. To put it very simply, it’s a system of neurons, nerves, plexuses, neurotransmitters, etc. that is responsible for regulating the involuntary (a/k/a unconscious) functions of your body, you know, things like your heart rate, blood circulation, sweat glands, digestion, and the basic rhythm of respiration. Basically anything in your body that carries on without your needing to think about it.

There are two parts of the autonomic nervous system that are constantly interacting with each other to react to your environment and maintain your body’s essential functioning. One part, the sympathetic nervous system, prepares the body for emergencies—it’s the famous “fight or flight” system. 

The other part, the parasympathetic nervous system, is known as the “rest and digest” system because it supports the day-to-day functioning of your internal organs. The parasympathetic system always working, it’s just that when the sympathetic system kicks in, certain of the parasympathetic functions (like digestion, elimination, basic rhythmic breathing) are altered while the body prepares to deal with a threat.

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So, what does this all have to do with you and the office?

Well, the sympathetic nervous systems gets triggered when you perceive stress (for example, a tiger is chasing you or your home is on fire). In response, your body does a number of things, like increasing your heart and respiration rate, releasing bunches of adrenaline, and slowing down the other bodily functions (like digestion) that are not absolutely necessary to deal with a threat to your survival.

Obviously, this kind of reaction has been hugely effective for us humans as we have evolved through extremely dangerous environments. But even though our modern urban living is (usually) far safer than it has ever been in our evolutionary past, our day-to-day lives are still full of the kind of stress that triggers our sympathetic nervous system.

Especially in the workplace.

Things like difficult bosses, office politicking, deadlines, incessantly beeping electronic devices, and overwhelming task lists frequently create a “fight or flight” response in our bodies. Basically, our bodies can’t process the difference between fighting a woolly mammoth or running away from a spear wielding enemy, and a constantly buzzing phone or preparing for a career-breaking presentation.

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The physiological experience of the sympathetic nervous system being triggered—increased heart rate, dilated pupils, sweating, out of control breathing—is the same no matter where the stress comes from.

Our bodies were not designed to withstand the near constant triggering of the sympathetic nervous system, which is such a common occurrence in the modern world of work (and, thanks to technology that allows you to be connected to your work 24/7, the modern world of rest).

The more the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, the less the rest of your body is able to maintain its regular, peaceful functioning—and the more wear on your nerves. Over time, your overall health will suffer and your ability to handle stress will decline. I know I don’t need to tell you what a breakdown of your nervous system will do to your effectiveness at work, or your ability to handle all the other aspects of your life.

So, in order to counteract the effects of stress, it is vital to learn how to calm the sympathetic nervous system. This is exactly what many of the yoga, meditation, and mindfulness techniques are designed to do. 

There are numerous techniques I could teach you, but in this post I’m going to give you just 3 mini-practices that you can use to calm your sympathetic nervous system particularly while you’re in the office. You don’t even need to leave your chair for these techniques to work!

Seated forward fold

Forward folds are hugely calming (for a variety of anatomical reasons that I won’t get into here). You can certainly stand up, or sit on the floor, and fold over your legs, but that’s not always possible in the office so try this one right from your chair.

Forward Bend_BlueSit about half way between the back and front edge of your chair with your feet flat on the ground and set widely apart (about as wide as the two sides of the chair seat). Take a deep breath in as you sit up tall with your hands resting lightly on your lap. Then, exhale as you  drop your arms in between your legs and roll yourself forward until your fingers or hands touch the floor. If your fingers/hands don’t reach the floor, you can let them dangle, or if that is uncomfortable, then just rest them on your thighs. Stay here and breathe deeply for at least 5 breaths—or as long as you need to feel calm and stable.

Double exhale breathing

Yogic breathing techniques (which are broadly called “pranayama”) have long been known to calm the sympathetic nervous system by slowing the heartbeat, reducing blood pressure, and producing a sense of calm and stability. How it happens is not entirely clear, but it has to do with our ability to consciously control a function–respiration–that is affected by all the other involuntary functions. 

One of the most effective, simple breathing techniques is the double exhale.

Practice like this. Sit comfortably in your chair, with your feet on the ground and your hands resting lightly in your lap. Inhale for a count of 3 (or 4 or 5, depending on your lung capacity and state of mind); exhale for a count of 6 (or 4 or 10 etc.). Continue like this for at least 5 minutes. 

Breathwork - Yogic Full Breath_Blue

Pause meditation

It’s now well-known that meditation (especially mindfulness meditation) lowers your stress levels and calms your sympathetic nervous system. But it’s also well-known how hard it is to spare any time for a dedicated meditation practice.

Worry not—there is a way to incorporate some mindfulness meditation into your very busy day. Just practice this “pause meditation.”

To do it is simple: at different moments in your day, such as before you make a difficult phone call, respond to an email, or go into an important meeting, pause and take 3-5 deep inhales and exhales (take more if you have the time or are feeling particularly stressed out).

You are sure to feel more calm and stable, even after just a few breaths. Remembering to pause is as much part of the practice as the breathing, so the more you train your mind to take the pause, the more you will experience the mental clarity that comes with a focused practice.

Will you try one or more of these this week? Tell me if you do, I want to know how it feels for you.

Of course, there are many, many more techniques that you can practice both in the office and at home—and I am happy to share them with you if you would like (contact me here to set up a class). In the meantime, start practicing what I’ve shown you in this post and you will get a good start on calming your overworked sympathetic nervous system.

As always, if you are interested in learning more about how yogic breathing techniques (pranayama), mindful movement (asana), meditation, and work-life balance can help your life in the office run smoothly then inquire here.

And if you know someone who will benefit from these teachings then don’t be shy and share this post with them!

Want more great tips on how to live a healthy and balanced urban life? Get the next Urban Practice post direct to your Inbox by clicking “Follow Urban Practice” or join me for daily tips and musings on Facebook or Twitter (@MyUrbanPractice)—lots of choices, lots of buttons. Click all the ones you want.

namaste

14 Thoughts to End the Year

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I started this year with an optimistic post about how good life will get if you stick to a practice of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.

But as this year comes to a close, I’m feeling a bit more sober. Not that I am pessimistic – my optimistic nature is just too strong and I know more than ever how good yoga, meditation and mindfulness makes one’s life. Maybe I’m just a bit overwhelmed by all that is going on in the world. And, on a personal level, I’m experiencing some uncertainty in my life, my practices and the directions I am going.

I’ve tried, but I’m feeling uninspired by the usual let’s-make-the-next-year-the-best-one-yet mantras that are ricochet-ing across the internet and social media right now. That attitude feels a bit forced at the moment, and my mind is swirling with more than just what-I-will-do-in-2015.

So to end 2014, I’m going to make a different kind of list: 14 thoughts that are on my mind as the year comes to a close. The list is part reflection of the past year, part musing about the coming year, and part just making a list to put my thoughts in some kind of order (as is my habit, being a lawyer and a hyper-organized Virgo).

1. Learning about the human body is endless. After 12 years of yoga practice, I’m still having insights every other week. This year I learned a ton about anatomy (and I’ve started sharing what I’ve learned with you too!)

2. One year is not enough time to master an advanced yoga posture. At least for me. Although I’m close, I didn’t quite make it to full Natarajasana…(I’ll be working on this one again in 2015).

3. Everybody’s talking about mindfulness. But it’s starting to sound like an over-hyped diet fad. The mind’s version of paleo (which I’m mostly unimpressed by). I still advocate joining the mindfulness bandwagon, but I also advise being mindful (ha!) of what you’re trying. And don’t try to do it alone, find a teacher.

4. Even with great discipline and teachers, mind/body practice is bound to be boring at times. Boredom is a huge distraction. Because it makes me want to skip my practice.

5. Despite the distraction, I keep coming back to try again. That is the practice.  

6. Learning about the world is endless. Like the Rastas say, “traveling is the ultimate education.” This year I learned from India again.

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7. Integrating what I learn from yoga, meditation and mindfulness practice into the rest of my life is no easy task. A practice unto itself.

8. Especially when I ponder life’s unavoidable injustices. Like our society’s latent racism. Or planes falling out of the sky (or simply disappearing altogether). Is suffering really all that optional?

9. On the flip emotional side, I am deeply moved by the union we experience with each other, alternately, through our anger, our fear, our inspiration, our hope. We are all in this together. We all can’t breathe.

10. These times are what they are. But times were different once. I am wondering lately about truth, what it is, why it seems so dispensable in our modern times. Wasn’t there a time when it was unbecoming to tell a lie (you know, like the days of the gentleman’s or lady’s honor)? When personal integrity was more valuable than getting whatever you want when you want it? I will explore this thought more in 2015…

11. Maybe that’s why simple silliness was so popular this year. You know, the ice bucket challenge…what a marvelous phenomenon seeing my FB news feed flow from outrageous allegations by politicians to race riots and bombings to ordinary folks dumping freezing water on their heads.

12. I’m not judging anyone though. I also like silliness relief. That’s why I like yoga selfies. Sooo not what yoga is all about, but so much fun anyway.

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13. The deeper I go into the yoga, meditation, and mindfulness teachings, I’m encountering more and more uncertainty. But this is a good thing. A famous Tibetan Buddhist master, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, once put it like this: the bad news is you are falling through space and have nothing to grab onto; the good news is that there’s no ground. We’re all falling through space whether we like it or not. But we’re not going to crash, so we just practice letting go into the falling experience.

14. One thing I am certain of – always – is the great pleasure I get from watching my students learn and progress. And I watched a lot of that this past year! So hats off to all my students: I appreciate you enormously.

Tell me, what’s on your mind as the year closes? Share it with me, below, or send an email here.

Plus, stay tuned for more posts relating to yoga, meditation, mindfulness and how it relates to your urban professional life. You can get the next Urban Practice post direct to your Inbox – just click the “Follow Urban Practice” button below.

In the meantime, join me for daily yoga/meditation/mindfulness tips and musings on Facebook (“Like” my page here) or on Twitter by following @MyUrbanPractice.

 

Corner Office Anatomy – Keep Your Knees Healthy

munity8In this segment of my Corner Office Anatomy series I’m focusing on a part of the body that endures a lot from your desk sitting work lifestyle: the knees.

It’s not that your knees are being overworked by sitting in your chair all day (and we all know that putting too much work on the knees can lead to uncomfortable pain and – sometimes – ugly injuries), it’s just that, shall we say, your knees are being underworked.

To understand what I mean, let’s think a bit about your knees. Unlike your shoulders and  hips, which are known as “ball and socket” joints because of their wide-ranging-motion capacity, your knees are called “condylar” joints. I don’t know why there isn’t an easier to understand term for the knee joints, but the point is that the knees are joints that move only three ways: bending (a/k/a flexion), straightening (a/k/a extension) and slight rotation to either side (when the knee is partially bent).

To make its three motions, your knees are connected to large muscle groups, both above and below the joint, through numerous tendons and ligaments (Note: I’m simplifying A LOT because I’m guessing you have better things to do than to fully dissect the intricate anatomy of your knees).

Now, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with your knees, such as bending them in the wrong way, putting an inappropriate amount of pressure that strains or tears connective tissue, or, as happens over time as we age, degeneration of the muscles surrounding the joint. 

For purposes of this post, though, I’m more concerned about the fact that you likely sit in your chair for 8 hours or more a day.

Why does that matter?

The thing about sitting in your chair throughout a work day is that your knees remain in the exact same position – about halfway between fully bent and fully straightened – for hours at a time. Although I don’t hear so many people talk about this, I don’t see how it is any different from the uncomfortable consequences of sitting on a plane for 8-10 hours straight, and plenty of people agree that long plane rides are bad for your knees.

So I’m here to say that long days at the office are bad for your knees. (click here to Tweet that point). And after a full career of sitting at your desk chair, your knees are going to have a lot to complain about.

But, as always, the tools and teachings in yoga can help

Before I get to some simple poses that you can use to keep your knees healthy throughout your professional urban life, a word about yoga and knees. You may have heard that yoga can hurt your knees – and you heard right. I’m not going to get into the myriad ways you can ensure your knees are safe while you practice yoga (if you want to know more about that topic, comment below or send me an email), but here is one fundamental point that you should keep in mind when doing anything with your knees: no pain, no pain.

What I mean is, whether you are practicing in a yoga class or trying out the poses I suggest to you in my posts, do not tolerate any pain from your knees. If you feel pain, back off.

Great, now that we have that sorted, here are a few poses that you can use to make your knees healthier (and, in the long-term, happier). 

Warrior II

One of the most important ways to keep your knees healthy is by strengthening the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joint. And one of the best ways to strengthen the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the knees is by practicing one of yoga’s quintessential poses: Warrior II.

If you are relatively new to this pose, I recommend using the chair a few times to practice getting your bent-knee leg into the right position.

Here’s how: start by sitting in the chair as you regularly would; then open the legs and bring your right leg to the outside of the right side of the chair; place your right foot down with your toes facing to the right (and parallel to the front edge of the chair); make sure your right knee is directly above your right ankle; then stretch your left leg all the way back, straightening that knee all the way to the left side of the chair until you can get the outside of the left foot on (or close to) the floor; take 5 deep breaths; then repeat on the other side.

When you have practiced this chair variation numerous times, then try the pose without the chair but don’t lose that focused alignment of your bent-knee directly over your ankle and your back leg stretched out with the outside of the foot touching the ground. Make sure you take 5 deep breaths (at least) on each side.

Kneeling (a/k/a Virasana)

This pose is a great way to stretch all of the muscles and connective tissues surrounding the knee. It’s also one of the only poses that fully flexes (a/k/a bends) the knee-joint. Because some of the degeneration that your knees will experience in your lifetime will be from lack of use (as opposed to wear and tear), making sure the deeper parts of the knee-joint get their fair share of movement is an important element in overall knee health. This is true because when you move your joints through their full range of motion it increases circulation and lubrication. Good stuff. 

Before you try this one, remember my word of warning: no pain, no pain. Most people don’t bend their knees this deeply ever, and different parts of your body (like the hips, ankles, shins) might object to you trying it for the first few times.

Be careful, go slowly, and don’t forget to breathe.

Test out this pose by using your chair seat as support for your hands as you lower your toosh to your heels. If you can’t lower all the way down, roll up a blanket or pillow and place it directly under your toosh with your feet on either side. You can also use a thick book, or any other prop you can come up with; the idea is to lift your hips and create more space between the upper and lower part of your legs (so that the stretch around the knees is not as intense). Also make sure that your knees are close together and that your toes are in line with your ankles – don’t let them splay out or in.

Stay in the this pose for short amounts of time at first – just 5 deep breaths. Then, as you feel more comfortable, you can sit for longer periods, building up eventually to 1 minute.

Knee Swirls

This pose is one of my favorite ways to strengthen the knees because it involves the lesser used movement of the knees – a slight rotation to either side. But because the knees cannot fully rotate to the sides, you have to be very careful to engage the upper leg muscles to keep them safe.

Start by bringing your feet parallel and bending your knees slightly. Then place your hands lightly on your thighs and gently “swirl” your knees in one direction 5-10 times.

DO NOT press your hands into your thighs; instead contract the muscles in the front and back of your thighs, and pull your lower abdomen muscles in and up. That way you will use the strength of your legs (and core) to make the motion safely.

Come back to the center and straighten the knees letting your hands fall by your sides (in the pose known as “tadasana” or “mountain”). Take a few breaths there to rest. Then repeat on the other side. 

Again – don’t forget to breathe. Yoga benefits us, not because of magic (well, it does feel like magic sometimes), but because we are learning to move our body in sync with our breath. In order to do that we have to first notice where we are tense and holding our breath, and then start to release the tension with deep exhales in order to complete the movements.

Supported kneeling (a/k/a child’s pose variation)

This one will relax your back and shoulders at the same time as deep bending your knees.

You’ve probably tried some variation of this pose, either with the forehead on the floor in a fetal-like posture or with the forehead on the chair but with the legs open like I showed you in a prior post.

Practice this variation anytime you need a bit of comforting repose – while you are relaxing you will also get the wonderful benefits of fully bending the knees.

Don’t forget to use a blanket or thick book like in the kneeling/virasana pose above. And start with short amounts of time and gradually build up as your knees get used to this pose.

There are, of course, many more yoga poses that will build strength and flexibility in your knees, and I can share those with you another time. If you are needing some immediate and more extensive attention to your knees, send me an inquiry here.

In the meantime, start practicing what I’ve shown you in this post and you will get a good start on creating a healthy lifestyle for your knees – even if you spend large parts of the day sitting at a desk chair.

If you are interested in learning more generally about how yogic breathing techniques (pranayama), mindful movement (asana), meditation and work-life balance can help you lead a healthier urban life then inquire here. And if you know someone who will benefit from these teachings then don’t be shy and share this post with them!  

Want more great tips on how to live a healthy and balanced urban life?  Get the next Urban Practice post direct to your Inbox by clicking “Follow Urban Practice” (button on the right). You can also join me for daily tips and musings on Facebook here or on Twitter @MyUrbanPractice.

The Union of Inspiration and Fear

My last couple of months have been busy settling down into the rhythm of fall. Lots of long over due projects and harvest holidays have kept me from sharing my thoughts with you. But there’s been a lot on my mind.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about unity, and how all us humans are united in some (and probably many) ways. Years of yoga practice have influenced a habit that I have to notice both obvious and non obvious connections all around me.

You may not know this yet, but “yoga” is a Sanskrit word that comes from the ancient root “yuj” which means “to join.” The “yuj” root is the same as the root in our word “yoke” that means to tie something together (usually an oxen to a cart or some old school scenario like that). So yoga is most often translated literally as “union.”

Union with what? Well, traditionally, yoga was practiced to bring about union with “God” (whatever that means). But the interpretations have varied over the years and the practice can seek to bring about union with others, union with the divine, union with nature, union with your inner wisdom, etc.

Either way, if you dive deep enough into the study and practice of yoga you will end up hearing about union. And for me, that has made me view the world totally differently than I did many years ago before I started learning all this stuff.

I now look around and, instead of focusing on so many differences, I can often see the ways we are all connected. Even when that’s not the most obvious view to have.

I’ve noticed this union in two drastically different yet similar situations over the last couple of months.

The first was the New York City Climate March (that took place on September 21, 2014). Official estimates are that nearly 400,000 people showed up to march through the streets of Manhattan voicing their concern for what appears to be painfully drastic climate change taking place all over our planet.

I was one of the 400,000 there that day. The numbers included people from all walks of life, all ages, all political leanings and all kinds of personal activist agendas. But we were all united in one thing: our love for our home, this planet.

Such unity is inspiring and so we were also united in our inspiration: to do better by the earth, to be better humans.

The second was (and is) the growing panic and fear around Ebola, which has been building since the first reports of the current outbreak started making headlines here in the U.S.

I have been saying since August that Ebola is the one world problem that I am truly worried about (the rest – political shenanigans and military aggressiveness – I have no doubt will all work out for the best in the end). Ebola doesn’t care if we are black or white, rich or poor, liberal or conservative; all those things fall away in the face of a virus that does its (malign) work inside the human body.

I think we know on a deep level that in front of Ebola we are all the same. That is why many of us – like me – are filled with fear (but not to be confused with panic, which is fear run amok). Interesting thing, though, is that the whole Ebola situation is showing us how we are inextricably united: we all have to work together in order to keep this one under control.

In other words, we are all in this together.

There’s a certain beauty in seeing “union” where ever you look, even in the places where you would rather look away. And yoga teaches you to see the world that way.

If you want to know more about how yoga, meditation and mindfulness shed light on our the unity of our human experiences send an inquiry here.

Plus, more posts relating to your urban professional life are coming soon and you can get the next Urban Practice post direct to your Inbox – just click the “Follow Urban Practice” button below.

In the meantime, join me for daily yoga/meditation/mindfulness tips and musings on Facebook (“Like” my page here) or on Twitter by following @MyUrbanPractice.

Corner Office Anatomy – How To Use Your Chair to Relieve Your Lower Back

In this segment of my Corner Office Anatomy series I’m focusing on a part of the body where almost everyone has or will experience pain: the lower back.

Why is lower back pain so unavoidable?

Well, as with all body experiences, the answer depends. It could be any combination of causes like bad posture, weak abdominal or back muscles, physical injury or repetitive stress, or even the suppression of emotions (which requires an exertion of physical effort in the body, particularly in the area around the lower back). 

A simple (but limited) common sense explanation is that the lower back – particularly, the vertebrae of your lower lumbar spine – is responsible for carrying all of the weight of your upper body all of the time. So of course it gets tired! And tired can lead to bad spinal alignment, which can lead to slipped or degenerating discs, which can lead to pain, etc. etc. (this does not explain other, more serious, conditions related to genetics or traumatic injury – so if you are experiencing debilitating pain go to see a doctor before you try yoga).

There’s another simple explanation. If you are a modern urban professional (like me) then I can bet that you spend a large amount of time sitting at your desk in a chair that is probably not the best for your posture and that surely exacerbates some of your lower back pain by pushing all the weight of your upper body onto your precious lower back region.

And I bet you don’t get out of that chair as much as you would like, or that you have heard you should.

So, with that in mind, in this post I am giving you 5 poses to help you relieve the pain in your lower back using that same chair that you sit in so much of the work day. 

Belly breathing

Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, abdomen breathing, deep breathing or costal breathing, belly breathing is the most basic and fundamental breathing exercise in yoga. The process is simple: inhale deeply allowing the lower belly to move out (which is flexing the diaphragm) and the rib cage to expand to the side (not up toward your ears) and exhale deeply allowing the reverse to happen (ribcage and belly back in).

If my description doesn’t make sense to you, try to think about how a baby breathes (or if you have a baby nearby, go and take a look). If baby is lying on its back, you will see its belly moving up as it inhales and down as it exhales.

Do a round of 25 inhales and exhales belly breathing sitting in your chair with your back upright and your feet planted on the ground. This deep breathing exercise actually strengthens your lower abdomen muscles and will help take pressure off the lower back so you experience less pain over the long-term.

Knee to chin

This pose will both strengthen your lower abdomen muscles and stretch the lower back muscles.

Start by sitting in a chair with both feet on the ground. Inhale deeply. Then as you exhale bring your right knee toward your chin, round your lower and upper back and tilt your head down. Inhale and return your right foot to the ground.

Inhale and exhale like that 5 times with the right leg and 5 times with the left leg. 

If you want a bit more challenge you can try both knees at once. Be sure to lightly grip the sides of your chair as you inhale with your feet on the ground and then exhale lifting both knees toward your chin, rounding your back and tilting your head forward.

Do 5 rounds of breath and try to use that deep belly breathing.

Twists

Twists are a great way to gently stretch your lower back. But make sure you keep your knees parallel to each other and your feet planted firmly on the ground (this protects you from over reaching and aggravating any lower spinal issues).

From your seated position, bring your left arm across your body and grab either the seat, arm or back of your chair on the right side. Wrap your right arm around your back. Turn your head toward your right shoulder. Breath deeply for 5 breaths.

Come back to the center and take a few deep breaths.

Then do the other side. Bring your right arm across your body and grab either the seat, arm or back of your chair on the left side. Wrap your left arm around your back and turn your head toward your left shoulder. Breathe deeply for 5 breaths.

Extended leg

This posture will gently stretch your lower back and work on strengthening the muscles in your abdomen and lower back.

Before you try this one, move your chair so that it is leaning against something that won’t move, like your desk or the wall. 

Then stand to the side of the chair, with your feet about hips width, and at a distance equivalent to the length of your leg. Bend your right leg and gently place your foot on the seat or arm of your chair and extend your leg (if you have tight hamstrings, you can keep your knee bent). Wiggle your left leg back if you need to so you get the right leg fully extended.

Press into your left foot and engage your quadricep. Stand up tall, with your shoulders right over your hips. Breathe deeply for 5 breaths.

Bring the right leg off the chair slowly and then do the other side with the left leg extended on the chair. 

Don’t forget to breathe. Yoga gives us relief, not because of magic, but because we are learning to move our body in sync with our breath and in order to do that we have to notice where we are tense and start to release that in order to complete the movements.

Supported fold

This one will relax your lower back and allow you to deepen your breath even more. Don’t be surprised if you want to stay in this one for a longer time!

Place the back of the chair against your desk or the wall. Sit on the floor in front of your chair and either extend your legs out to either side (as pictured) or cross them Indian style. Put both your forearms on the chair seat and gently place your forehead on your forearms. Allow your back to round. Breathe deeply for at least 5 breaths.

You might need to adjust your chair for this one, move the seat up or down so that you can comfortably place your forearms and your head down. If you are uncomfortable with your toosh on the hard floor, then fold up a towel or small blanket and sit on it.

All of these poses can are variations of traditional poses that are done on the floor. If you do the poses all together, the entire sequence will take you about 12 minutes.

Just 12 minutes! You can do this sequence every work day. And your lower back will thank you for it.

There are, of course, many more postures that will relieve your lower back pain and tension, and  I can share those with you another time. If you are needing some immediate and more extensive attention to your lower back, send me an inquiry here.

In the meantime, start practicing what I’ve shown you in this post and you will give some much needed relief to your lower back.

Plus, if you are interested in learning more generally about how yogic breathing techniques (pranayama), mindful movement (asana), meditation and work-life balance can improve your urban life then inquire here. And if you know someone who will benefit from these teachings then don’t be shy and share this post with them!  

Want more great tips on how to live a balanced urban life?  Get the next Urban Practice post direct to your Inbox by clicking “Follow Urban Practice” (button on the right). You can also join me for daily meditation/movement tips and musings on Facebook here or on Twitter @MyUrbanPractice.