Easy stretches you can do at your desk to melt away shoulder tension.
For many, sitting at a computer all day is the norm. Breathing shallowly, stress, sitting for long periods of time, and bad postural habits can accumulate tension in the back, neck and shoulder area. This part of the body can end up feeling as if it were carrying the weight of the world. Ouch!
With a little bit of effort, tension can be minimised and even eliminated. As a yoga teacher, I’ve often witnessed people with busy schedules putting self-care at the back of their priorities, but if we don’t care for ourselves, who will?
My guru once told me that I was only as young as my back was flexible. So with this in mind, it’s worth the effort involved to keep this area tension-free.
Here are my top five upper back, neck and shoulder stretches. You can even try them in a chair.
Remember with all exercise please check with your doctor first for suitability. Exercise at your own risk.
1. Seated stretch
Sit up tall on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Interlock the hands as you inhale, stretch the arms up above you. At the same time remember to relax the shoulders. Make sure the chin isn’t sticking out. Exhale and hold for five more breaths, then lower the arms. Repeat five times.
2. Shoulder freer
Sitting up straight, isolate just the left shoulder as you move it up and down slowly five times. Repeat on the right side for five times. Now move the left, immediately followed by the right for five breaths. Now repeat but this time, lift both shoulders up and down at the same time for five breaths.
3. Breathe out that tension
Sitting up tall, place the hands just below the belly button, fingertips, horizontal, facing towards each other. Inhale and watch how the hands separate a little as the belly expands. Exhale as the fingertips come closer together as the diaphragm comes in. On the next breath, start inhaling into the belly, the sides of the body, then the chest, armpits, upper chest and imagine the breath reaching the shoulders. Remember the lungs start at the shoulders. Exhale and squeeze all that stale air out. As you exhale, mentally let go of anything that no longer serves you. As you inhale, breathe in positivity. Do this for 3 to 10 minutes.
4. Slide the hands up the back stretch
I love this one. The key is not to force or be violent with yourself. Gentle is more effective.
Stretch the right hand up towards the ceiling. Next slide the left hand up the back and try and clasp hold of it with the right. If you can’t reach try using a yoga belt or even holding onto your T-shirt. Make sure shoulders are away from the ears. Relax into it and be mindful of your breathing. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
5. Where’s your neck at
Lastly, as you walk and sit in life, try not to stick your neck. Stop being like a pigeon and start being more like an elegant giraffe.
Remember to look after yourself. No more rounded shoulders, lots of deep breaths and enjoy your day!
Here’s to tension-free living. Aah!