Falling asleep at your desk? When you sit still for long periods of time, blood pools in the muscles, making you feel tired and sluggish. Stretching will nourish muscles and increase circulation of oxygen to the brain, thus improving your concentration and creativity. Stretching also releases dopamine, a natural brain chemical which helps you feel happier and more positive :).
Get the most from stretching by following these tips:
• take regular breaks to change position and ease out tension
• move slowly and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds
• avoid over-stretching, ie there should be no pain
Shoulders and Back
1. Shoulder Rolls: begin by limbering up your shoulders and upper back. Roll your shoulders in circles, 3 times in one direction and then 3 times in the other direction.
2. Back Stretch: stretch your arms up toward the ceiling, bringing your hands together above your head. Look up at your thumbs. Arch back a little if this feels comfortable for you. Hold for 30 seconds or 7-10 slow breaths. If your neck feels tight, look straight ahead during this stretch.
3. Chest Opener: bring your arms behind your back and interlock your fingers. Your palms are facing each other. Stretch your arms back and keep them straight. Feel your shoulder blades squeezing together. Hold for 30 seconds or 7-10 slow breaths.
4. Side Stretch: hold your elbows above your head. Feel the stretch in the sides of your body. Breathe in and as you breathe out, draw your navel to your spine and stretch to the right. Breathe in to return to centre. Breathe out to stretch to the left. Breathe in to come back to centre. Repeat twice more to each side. This side stretch will help to release tension in the muscles along the spine.
5. Chair Twist: sit upright at the edge of a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Breathe in and as you breathe out, twist your body to the left, taking your right hand to the edge of your left knee and your left arm to the back of the chair. Stay for 3 slow breaths. Repeat on the other side.
6. Forward Fold: sit upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Begin folding forward slowly, keeping the front of your body long as your relax forward over your thighs. Your hands can rest on your lower legs or on a desk or table. Feel the stretch through your lower back and shoulders. Stay there for 30 seconds. Slowly uncurl, pressing your feet into the floor to help you return to an upright position.
1. Sit or stand upright, with your chin parallel to the floor. As you breathe out, gently lower your head, bringing your chin toward your chest. Allow the weight of the head to lengthen the muscles at the back of the neck. As you inhale, slowly raise your head and look up toward the ceiling, stretching the front of your neck. Avoid taking the head too far back: there should be no discomfort in the back of the neck. As you exhale, slowly lower your chin toward the chest again. Repeat 3 times with awareness of the neck muscles and the head moving through space.
2. Now as you exhale, take your right ear toward your right shoulder. Inhale as you take the head back to centre. Exhale as you take the left ear to the left shoulder. Repeat 3 times, slowly and with awareness.