Backstage

  • ISHTA yoga instructor <a href='http://www.jennifervagios.com/' target='_blank'>Jennifer Vagios</a> shows us a few easy yoga poses that you can do at the office
  • <b>Shoulder Opener</b><br />
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<b>Get Started:</b> Stand in front of a wall (or chair) with your feet hip distance apart. Place your fingertips on the wall, shoulder distance apart at the level of your waistline. Start to send your hips toward the middle of the room and walk your feet back so that they’re under your hips. Your body will come into an “L” shape, where your torso is parallel to the floor. Press the entire palms of your hands into the wall keeping the arms as straight as possible. <br />
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Spread your fingers wide—your middle fingers should point up towards the ceiling. Line your ears up with your upper inner arms. Draw your navel in towards your spine (engage your core). If you’re rounding in the lower back, there’s a chance your hamstrings are tight, so feel free to bend the knees just a bit. Breathe.<br />
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<b>Inhale:</b> Grow long in the spine and press into the hands, allow the ribs to open and expand in all four directions. <br />
<b>Exhale:</b> The ribs contract and surrender into the pose.
  • <b>Side Lean</b><br />
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<b>Get Started:</b> Stand in front of a chair or next to a wall. Place your left hand on the wall or chair (simply for support). Stand with your feet hips distance apart, with you torso facing forward. Line your shoulders over your hips and release your arms alongside your waist. Your palms should face the midline of your body. <br />
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<b>Inhale:</b> Reach the right arm up alongside your ear (palm faces the midline of your body) <br />
<b>Exhale:</b> Lift up and out of the waist, flexing over to the left. <br />
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Keep length through both sides of your waist, allowing the stretch to be felt in the right intercostal muscles (the muscles in between your ribs that help you breathe). Repeat on the other side.
  • <b>Neck Stretch</b><br />
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<b>Get Started:</b> Stand or find a comfortable seat. Your legs should be hips distance apart. Place your left hand above your right ear and tilt your head towards your left shoulder. Keep your face forward. <br />
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<b>Inhale:</b> Create space in the neck muscles<br />
<b>Exhale:</b> Visualize moving into that space, releasing any tensions or thoughts of the day. <br />
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Repeat on the other side.
  • <b>Happy Hips</b><br />
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<b>Get Started:</b> Find a comfortable seat. Your legs should be hips distance apart and all ten toes pointed forward. Cross the right ankle over your left thigh and flex that foot strongly. Lift your heart (chest) forward. You can reach your fingertips behind you to create more space across the chest and collarbones. <br />
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<b>Inhale:</b> Create length in the spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head. <br />
<b>Exhale:</b> Hinge at the hips and walk your hands in front of you in prayer pose and rest your elbows or forearms on your shin or keep them behind you as I am in this photo. <br />
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You can make this pose as intense a hip opener as you want to by hinging more deeply forward (remember to keep length in the spine; you’re not trying to get your forehead to the shin). Repeat on the other side.
  • <b>Wrist Release</b><br />
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<b>Get Started:</b> Extend your right arm in front of you at shoulder height with your palm facing up. Take your left hand and press your right hand back towards your body, flexing your wrist back. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • <b>Quadricep Stretch</b><br />
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<b>Get Started:</b> Stand in front of a chair or next to a wall. The left side of your body will be up against a wall. Place your feet hips distance apart. Bend your right knee and grab hold of the top of your right foot or ankle and press the foot into the hand. Draw your heel towards your butt. Engage your core muscles to keep the spine long and maintain space across your chest. Relax your jaw and forehead. <br />
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<b>Inhale:</b> Grow long in the spine<br />
<b>Exhale:</b> Keep drawing the right knee towards the floor and pressing the foot into the hand. <br />
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Repeat on the other side.
  • <b>Hamstring Stretch</b><br />
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<b>Get Started:</b> Stand in front of a chair with you feet hips distance apart. Place your right heel on the chair in front of you and flex your ankle so your toes point up. <br />
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<b>Inhale:</b> Create length in your spine and reach your chest forward.<br />
<b>Exhale:</b> Hinge at the hips and rest your fingertips on either side of your shin.<br />
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Repeat on the other side.
  • <b>Lower Back Release</b><br />
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<b>Get Started:</b> Find a comfortable seat and place your knees a little wider than hips distance apart. All ten toes should face forward. Allow your torso to round over your thighs. Release the crown of your head towards the floor and relax your shoulders. Keep engagement in the core muscles to protect the lower back.  <br />
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<b>Inhale:</b> Lift your chest up and create length in the spine<br />
<b>Exhale:</b> Let go of any tensions of the day and let out a sigh.
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9

8 Poses for the Office Yogi

There’s always an intention to start “becoming healthy” in the New Year, and yoga is a great resolution. However, the truth of the matter is we’re all running around at warp speed trying to get things done…the next thing you know, that intention to take a yoga class a couple of times a week—or even once a week—goes right out the window.

With this frazzled state of mind comes anxiety, which causes us to breathe up in the chest. If we’re not breathing efficiently and the muscles of the body are tight, we’re literally stressing ourselves out.

What’s cool about yoga is that you don’t need an entire physical practice or class to chill out. Yoga isn’t about the asana (physical postures), it’s about calming down the chatter in the mind so that you can find ease in life…on and off the mat. By stretching out the body and creating space to literally breathe better, you immediately calm the nervous system and therefore calm the mind.

Now, whether you’re standing or sitting all day, here are a few poses you can do without having to roll out a yoga mat and put on spandex.

Choose one—or all—of these postures, hold for 5 to 10 breaths and immediately find some peace of mind.

Scroll through the slideshow above to see each pose and a description of how to achieve it.

Jennifer Vagios MS RD YRT
ISHTA yoga teacher and Dietitian/Nutritionist
Follow Jen on Twitter and Facebook

Images courtesy of Andreea Waters of Kai and Gipsy
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