You're at your desk, so stressed out that your shoulders are somewhere up around your ears. Your head is pounding, and no Botox in the world will smooth your furrowed brow. You can't yell at your boss, and happy hour is nowhere in sight. • But if you've got a few minutes, relief could be just four simple stretches away. Veteran St. Petersburg yoga teacher Denise O'Dunn has her own Balance and Bliss Ayurvedic Lifestyle Center, and she also teaches yoga classes in the community and at corporations. Here are four poses she suggests trying at your desk when you need a break.
Start by slowly breathing through your nose. Move carefully; the idea is to relax tense muscles, not hurt yourself. Hold each pose for three slow breaths (or longer if you have the time).
1. Side stretch
Raise both arms and stretch to one side, hold, and then the other. This gets your circulation going, frees up your frazzled nerves and gets your spine moving as it's meant to — not just hunched over your keyboard.
Keep your spine moving with a slow twist to each side. Your neck can follow, but be careful, especially if you're very tense. Otherwise, keep your chin lined up over your chest. Move only to the point where you feel resistance, not pain.
3. Back arch
Sit at the edge of your chair, put your hands behind you, and gently arch backward, raising your chin. Squeeze your shoulder blades together; it's a great way to improve circulation in your tense upper back.
4. Forward fold
Cross one leg so your ankle rests on the opposite knee. This stretches your hip muscles, notoriously tight in those who sit all day, contributing to lower-back pain. Then slowly lean forward to intensify the hip stretch and give your lower vertebrae a little more space too.