Mindful Movement: Take A Break With These Yoga Poses When WFH

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It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re absorbed in one task or another. Being focused is great, but not at the expense of your health — how often have you pushed through mental sluggishness and physical discomfort for the sake of clearing what’s on your plate? 

These days, most of us are cooped up at home, even for work, blurring the boundary between the demands of our job, family, and personal time. When we’re distracted, we can become stressed. When we’re stressed, we put our health and wellness under strain.   

This is where mindful movement comes in. 

Mindful movement is the act of bringing awareness to the movement, tapping into sensations of both the body and breath to encourage emotional regulation and lower stress levels. Unlike workouts that push the body to the limit for that last rep, this practice is calm and intentional. By slowing down, we can ground the body and mind through the breath. 

Mindful movement can be a range of different things, from a slow walk around the neighbourhood to Tai Chi or yoga.

Our practice today

Whether you’re working from home or bingeing a series on Netflix, remember to check in with yourself: How often are you getting out of the chair and moving? Are you conscious of your breath? How does your body feel?

We can use simple questions like these as a starting point. When we focus on the body and breath, it calms the mind and recentres our attention onto what is truly important: our wellbeing and the present moment.

Give yourself a 10-minute timeout to do these yoga poses to add some mindful movement to your day. These stretches can be done anywhere — on a mat or even in your chair — and will focus on moving together with the breath. Your body will thank you! 

Breathe

  1. Find a comfortable seated position on a chair or mat. On a mat, you can choose to sit on the mat itself, a yoga block, or pillow. 
  2. Close your eyes and inhale in through your nose and exhale out from your nose, gently bringing awareness to how the body feels. Whether you notice any tightness or feel nothing at all, just breathe into your body without any judgement.
  3. Stay for five to 10 smooth, long breaths. 
  4. This practice allows us to stay present by tapping into the breath. 

Side Body Stretch

  1. Inhale as you stretch your arms over your head as you lengthen the spine. 
  2. Exhale and catch your left wrist with your right hand, and stretch yourself to the right side. 
  3. Inhale and exhale as you feel the stretch in the left side body, and breathe into that area. 
  4. Stay for five to 10 full breaths and switch to the other side. 
  5. This is an invigorating side body stretch. 
  6. Chair option: Same steps.

Twist

  1. Inhale as you stretch your arms over the head, lengthening the spine. 
  2. Exhale and twist to the right side, right hand behind you and left hand on your right knee. 
  3. Breathe into the twist. 
  4. Stay for five to 10 full breaths and repeat on the other side. 
  5. This is a gentle spinal twist. 
  6. Chair option: Same steps.

Figure 4

  1. Inhale as you bring your feet onto the mat, bending at the knees. Your palms are flat on the floor behind your body, fingers pointing towards your hips. 
  2. Exhale and bring your right ankle to your left knee so your legs are shaped like a figure four. 
  3. Breathe here for five to 10 full breaths as you feel a stretch in your right hip. 
  4. To intensify the stretch, walk your palms closer to the hips. 
  5. This is a gentle hip opening stretch. 
  6. Chair option: Bring your right ankle on your left knee. Gently lean your body forward to feel the stretch in your right hip.

Cat-cow

  1. Come to a table top position with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Stay with the spine flat and neutral.
  2. Inhale as you arch the spine to open into cow pose, tilting your tailbone up to the sky and opening your chest.
  3. Exhale as you come into cat pose by rounding the spine, pressing your palms firmly into the mat, and drawing chin into chest.
  4. Moving with the breath, complete each pose five times.
  5. These moves support spinal mobility. 
  6. Chair option: Place your hands on your knees. Draw your shoulder blades together to arch your back as you inhale into cow pose. Exhale as you round your back, tucking chin into chest for cat pose. 
Sara Leong is passionate about yoga, health, and wellness, and bringing all these together for balanced living. She is a certified yoga instructor and full-time copywriter, and when she is not on the mat or writing, she is planning on what to have for dessert (balanced living!). You can find her on Instagram @activelysara