Nine and a half hours is the average time an American adult spends staring at a screen. Whether it's work, Netflix, social media, catching up on the news, or studying, our modern life is set up to be sedentary. Changing our habits and brining purposeful movement back into our daily lives is something we know will make us feel better, but takes action. We've set out some of our favourite ways to minimize the stress and tension that staring at a screen in a hunched up, uncomfortable position brings.
If you can, take your laptop, tablet or phone to the floor and if you can't, just take yourself to the floor. Take a cross legged seat (prop youself up on a cushion if you need some extra comfort) and feel yourself ground. Use that grounding to find lift in your upper body and feel the length of your spine. Take a few quiet breaths, let your shoulders relax and and your palms rest on the top of your knees.
From here, if it feels good, on an inhale lift your arms over your head and if your shoulders allow it today, bring your fingertips to touch. Aim to keep your neck relaxed and your shoulders down and away from your ears. Play with bringing your arms in front of and behind your head and see how that feels in your body. Breathe gently and be aware of any extra space you feel in the sides of your body.
Now that we have found some extra length in our spine, we can rotate it and find a full range of motion. Hunching over our screens we can loose connection to what our bodies can do and a simple twist is an easy way to re-connect. From seated, on an inhale gently twist towards your right. Aim to find the twist coming from around your bellybutton area. Your pelvis stays still. Bring your left hand to to your right knee and your right finger tip just behind you. On an inhale, find that length in yoru spine and on an inhale, gently twist a little deeper. Avoid dipping your head or using your neck to twist, and try to keep your shoulders nice and spacious and away from your ears.
From seated, bring your left leg out straight and leave the sole of your left foot flexed and resting against your inner left thigh. You can prop your right knee with a cushion if you have any discomfort. This is a nice and gentle hip opener and counteracts tight hip flexors and releases tension in your lower back.
If it feels good today, you can even come forward on an inhale and take a forward bend. Just come as far as feels good,and keep energy in both of you legs and feet as you do this. It should feel like a nice release and a gentle stretch through the hamstring of your left leg.
From here, you have two options, you can go with for more of a hip release by bringing the sole of your left foot to touch your right. Use another pillow under your left knee if you used a prop for the version above. You can either stay upright or come forward by gently rounding your spine and melting towards the floor. Do whatever feels good today.
The other option is to bring your right leg out straight so you are in wide legged forward fold . Again, you can stay upright or this time with a straight spine, come forward. Keep you pelvis grounded into the floor and your shoulders away from your ears. Think release with intention, aim not to flop into any variation but move with purpose into these stretches to prevent injury and get the most out of your movements today.
The back of our bodies are just as important. If it is comfortable, come onto your belly and use your forearms to support you. Depending on how tight you feel today, this may feel uncomfortable, counteract this by engaging your glute muscles strongly, pressing your pelvis into the floor, keeping your legs strong right down to the tops of your feet against the ground. Bring your shoulders down, let your neck be relaxed and actively press into your forearms. This is an energetic pose, a gentle backbend, but it requires focus and intention throughout your whole body. Let this bring awareness to how you treat your back the rest of the day. Do you let it slump, are you careless with it, does it send you signals of aching because it feels unsupported?
From here, press your palms into the earth and make you way back to kneeling in a table top position (all fours). Bring your right knee forward and place it just behind and slightly to the right of your right wrist. Your right shin will be on a diagonal. Bring your left leg back behind you, with the top of your left foot pressing into the ground. Aim for your hips to be square towards your screen. Stay upright with your hands just slightly wider than shoulder width and your finger tips pressing into the ground. Keep the right foot flexed and if you feel any pressure or pain in your knee, place a cushion or block underneath it, or come out of the pose for today.
If everything feels good, you can come forward on an inhale and settle into a slightly longer hold to release any tension in your hip flexors, groins and glutes.
As always, try and finish any practice, even if it's just 5 minutes, with a grounding and relaxing stretch. Our go to favourite is child's pose, perfect for when you only have time for one pose that day also. From kneeling, bring your bum back to your heels and your forehead to the ground. Put a cushion underneath your forehead if you need help releasing today. Let your arms and hands fold wherever feels good and take a few gentle breaths. This pose is all about release.
This post is all about suggestions, ways to get you thinking of moving in a different way doing something you likely do every day. Try this and then see where your practice takes you, maybe it's rocking an inversion or maybe it's five minutes of child's pose. What feels good will change everyday, just like you. You might feel like you have a routine, but how you move within that routine can always be different. Break one pattern and see what else changes in your life.
The Namaste Team