Ever get that feeling at work that you’ve been sitting for too long and now you feel like your legs are trying to run away from you back? Well, there’s a simple explanation for that. We as human beings are not meant to sit all day long. We’re meant to be upright, and our modern work society has certainly made our lumbar paraspinal muscles (lower back muscles) and core muscles pay the price. But the good news is there’s something that can be done about it. Just a quick 10-minute office yoga workout routine during your lunch break can help strengthen and protect your lower back and re-energize you for the rest of the work day!
10-Minute Office Yoga Workout Routine
Start your 10-Minute Office Yoga Workout Routine by warming the body up a bit. Jog in place, or do one or two sun salutations. This is important because you never want to stretch or work a cold body. Perform whatever warm up you want for at least 2 minutes.
- Start of with the Chair Pose. It’s called that because you essentially turn yourself into a chair. With your legs close together and hands at your side, exhale and bend your knees bringing your arms straight above your head as if you are signaling a touchdown all while sticking your butt back exactly like you would if you would sit in a chair, but hold that squat like position there. You will feel your legs start to burn. Hold the position as long as you can, 3-5 breaths or 60-90 seconds. Then slowly return to your starting position.
- Twisting Chair Pose. Exactly like before except now we’re going to face left or right. As you squat down, turn your torso to the left or right side with your hands in a prayer position. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can extend your arms putting the lower fingertips on the ground and the other into the air. Hold the pose for the same 3-5 breaths then return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.
- Tree Pose. This will test your balance and core strength at a basic level. This pose is basically a fancy way to stand on one foot. Starting in a standing tall prayer position slowly reach down and grab one of your ankles. Pull it up and place the bottom of your foot directly against the inside of your standing thigh. Bring our hands to a prayer position, and again if you’re feeling adventurous, signal touchdown! Contract your core to help keep your balance. Put your weight into your big toe. If you start to feel yourself falling, use the same principle as a skid in your car and lean into it rather than away from it. If you fall or have to put your foot down, it’s ok. Just come back as soon as you’re ready. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Then repeat on the other leg.
- Royal Dancer. This one is a little more of a challenge. It takes a large amount of balance as well as a good deal of flexibility in the lower extremities. Begin by putting about 80% of your weight into your right (or left) leg. Reach your left hand behind you and lift your left leg off the ground and grab your ankle with that hand. Lift your leg as high as you can while bending at the waste and extending the right hand out in front of you as if you are serving a plate. Use the same principles as before to keep your balance. If you fall the first few times don’t worry. You’re supposed to. Just do the best you can. Hold for 3-5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
- Spinal Stretch. Now we actually sit on the floor. If you have a sore lower back you will love this stretch. Bend your left leg and put your left foot on the floor. Stick your right foot under your left leg placing it on the side of your left butt cheek. You should already feel yourself stretch. Place your left palm on the ground. Stick your right elbow with your hand straight up on the outside of your left knee. Inhale and push your torso with your arm against the knee. Do this 3-5 times pushing more every time. Repeat on the other side when done.
- Bridge to wheel. This is another more advanced stretch, but again it will make your back feel amazing. Legs bent with feet on the floor, lie on your back. Raise your pelvis into the air and clasp your hands behind your back under your tailbone. This is bridge. You can just hold this pose or you could move on to the more advanced wheel. Place both hands on the side of your head. Start by raising your head and placing your crown directly on the floor but be careful not to put to much pressure on your neck. Using a good deal of shoulder and arm strength lift your head off the floor doing your best to completely straighten out your arms. This is hard. Very hard. It took me a long time to finally be able to do it so don’t beat yourself up if you have trouble at first. Once you have it only hold it for about 3 breaths. Come back to the floor for a moment and then repeat the process one more time.
One of the great things about this type of workout is it requires no equipment, can be done virtually anywhere, no workout clothing is necessary, and it only takes 10 minutes so it can fit in to any busy work schedule. It works by incorporating balance and breath control, which forces you to use your core muscles to keep from falling down. And a strong core equals a strong and pain free lower back. You’ll also find that most of the moves actually involve very little movement. It is a lot of standing still in uncomfortable positions. But some mild discomfort during the workout will lead to a much more comfortable workday!