Work stress can get all too real all too fast. And sometimes, even if we think we can’t afford a break, the best thing for us to do to is to step away from our desks, ease our bodies in soothing yoga poses, and take a few deep breaths as we regain a sense of calm and clarity.
If you want to improve your focus and boost your performance (we’re sure your boss wouldn’t mind), allow yourself just five minutes of personal time at the office today and move through this quick asana. We’re sure you’ll feel exponentially better afterward. (And if you’re at all worried about looking silly practicing these poses at your desk, don’t be. You’ll be the one filled with peace and gratitude after your yoga break.)
1. Upward Hand Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)
Start with this standing pose to immediately relieve any tension building in your back and shoulders. It’s bound to renew your sense of lightness as the workday bears down on you. Just stand with your feet hip-distance apart, straighten your legs, roll your shoulders back and reach your hands forward and up.
Lengthen your fingertips toward the ceiling, relax your neck and shoulders, and send your gaze up toward your hands. Hold and breathe deeply for 30 seconds.
2. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
This favorite balancing posture brings a little playfulness as well as some focus back into your day. Begin by balancing on your right leg. Lift your left foot up and carefully place it on the inner right calf or inner right thigh. Stand tall as you elongate through the spine and softly gaze forward toward a fixed point.
As you find your balance, you can bring your hands to heart’s center, or reach them up toward to the sky to grow your tree. Remain in tree pose on your right leg for 30 seconds before switching sides and repeating.
3. Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Now send some extra energy to your brain with this intense forward bend. Stand with your feet parallel and 3-4 feet apart (depending on your height). Place your hands on your hips, and inhale as you reach tall through your spine. Keeping a flat back, exhale and slowly lean your torso forward toward the floor, keeping your hips in line with your legs.
Place your hands gently on the floor in front of you, or if your flexibility allows, reach down and grab your big toes or the outer edges of your feet or heels. Gently pull your torso closer toward your legs, shifting more of your weight into the balls of your feet, keeping your legs straight. See if you can touch the crown of your head to the floor. Remain in this stretch for 30 seconds before slowly and carefully reversing to your starting position.
4. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottansana)
Now move into a seated position on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Flex your feet and maintain a nice, long spine as you reach your hands toward your toes. If you can’t reach, that’s okay. Just place your hands on the floor next to your shins. If you can reach, feel free to grab your big toes or the outer edges of your feet.
Inhale to create length in your spine and exhale to bring your torso a little bit closer to your legs. Keep breathing here for 30 seconds before carefully returning to an upright position. This pose works wonders for the back, shoulders, and hamstrings.
5. Lotus Pose (Padmasana) With Chin Mudra
End in this more meditative pose to lock in the tranquility and concentration benefits you’ve just earned over the past few minutes. Bend your right knee and lift your foot up into the cradle of your left hip, and then bend your left knee and lift your foot up into the cradle of your right hip. (If this is too much, just sit comfortably with your legs crossed.)
Sit tall with your core engaged. Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up, and gently touch forefinger to thumb on each hand to create the chin mudra (or energy seal). Simply sit here with your eyes closed and breathe deeply, connecting with your mind and body for at least 30 seconds. Then carefully undo the crossing of your legs and repeat on the opposite side.