This pandemic has influenced our daily work flows and routines. Whether it has increased the amount of sitting as you now find yourself working from home for the day, or you find yourself commuting more (Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, driving, etc.), or coming up with a creative way to make an income online as your other job may have been terminated.
No matter the circumstance, it is apparent that our world here has shifted. This takes a toll on our physical and emotional health. To adapt to this COVID-19 world a lot of us are spending more of our day in front of a screen, in a stagnant seat, doing what must be done to get through this.
Hands up, if you can relate to that compressed feeling in your low back after a day at your computer? What about the tightness in both your hips and hamstrings? A tension headache resulting from your neck being pulled towards your screen? What about a shift in your posture?
Fortunately for us there are some shapes that can be utilized to help lessen the pain from sitting throughout the day. A restorative yoga sequence aims to move the spine in all directions, through gentle twists, back bends, inversions, and forward folds.
Each pose has a different benefit. For example, a twist helps to balance our energy and digestive fire, detoxify the organs, and improve circulation; an inversion improves circulation and promotes lymphatic drainage; a forward fold squeezes blood and waste out of the abdomen, improving circulation and digestion; whereas, a backbend returns fresh blood and nutrients to these organs.
These movements aim to calm the body, activating the portion of the nervous system that is responsible for resting and digesting (parasympathetic nervous system). Who wouldn’t benefit from a gentle way to destress going into 2021?
So let's explore some basic restorative yoga poses that can be done in the comfort of your own home, morning or the evening, to help offset “computer posture.”
Simple Restorative Yoga Sequence:
Props needed: a flat surface, a bolster pillow or pillow with a long sturdy shape, and two blankets/towels.
Restorative Backbend ~ Supported Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): 10-15 minutes.
Come to a seat on the ground. Place the bolster long ways behind the lower back (right up against the sacrum to provide enough support to lower back). Lower onto the bolster, bringing the feet together forming the shape of a diamond with your legs. Bring arms to the side and allow the chest to open up. Take a few nourishing breaths. Option to place a towel underneath the knees for additional support.
Benefits of this pose: lowers blood pressure, helps open up the mid back and chest, countering the posture in a chair.
Restorative Inversion ~ Viparita Karani (Elevated Legs up on a Wall). 10-15 minutes.
Come to a seat facing a wall, place a towel/blanket underneath lower back to prop up/support back, this is optional based on comfort. Extend feet up against the wall. Have a soft bend in the legs. Relax hands to the side, can use a small pillow behind the head for added comfort. Note: legs can be placed closer together.
Benefits of this pose: allows the mind to settle, lowers blood pressure, provides fresh blood to heart. Beneficial for varicose veins/spider veins, helps with excessive fluid retention, brings the blood and lymph fluid that pools in the legs back to the abdomen, providing fresh blood flow to limbs afterwards.
Restorative Twist ~ Elevated Twist on Bolster. 3-5 minutes each side.
Come onto your back, place the bolster/pillow to the left of the left leg. Keep shoulders rooted on the ground while bringing the right leg over to the left side to be placed on the bolster. Keeping the left leg straight, bring hands to the side to open up the chest. Take a few nourishing breathes, repeat on the other side.
Benefits of this pose: stretches the small muscles in the spine releasing pressure on the intervertebral discs. Opens the lungs, and diaphragm, improving our ability to breath and activate the calming portion of our nervous system. Counters the compression in the spine of sitting all day.
Restorative Forward Fold ~ Supported Upavistha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose). 3-5 minutes.
Bring the legs out into a wide legged stretch and place the bolster/pillow in front of you. Gently lower tummy, lungs, and head down on bolster, feeling the contact of the bolster against your abdomen. Place more blankets/pillows underneath if you need to be higher off the ground. Option to place blankets under the knees for further support. Take full, deep breaths from pelvis to collarbones.
Benefits of this pose: soothes the mind, and calms the nervous system. Helps to alleviate tension headaches, improves circulation to the abdomen, digestion, and respiration as blood pressure begins to decrease.
Note that these times to remain in each pose are a recommendation, modify for your own schedule and comfort. Restorative yoga is meant to be comfortable, if you find discomfort, modify and adjust until you are comfortable using blankets, towels and pillows.
Click here (or watch below) to view a short video from Sky of Sky Yoga and Wellness, sharing some simple postures that can be done in your chair throughout the day while working at your computer to minimize spinal pain.
Sky is a recent graduate of the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, and a previous student of Tahlia Sage and Petra Sovcov (Healing House).
Sky Corbett-Methot is a Holistic Nutritionist and 500 hour yoga and meditation instructor that also teaches prenatal yoga, postnatal yoga, and yoga with baby classes. She is a holistic wellness coach that combines a unique “just for you” approach that utilizes movement, meditation, and nourishment to enhance vitality. Find out more about Sky and SkyYoga & Wellness at: https://www.skyyogawellness.ca or find her on Instagram @sky_the_dauntless
Petra Sovcov is not a Medical Doctor (MD) or a Naturopath (ND), she is a Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) and Clinical Herbal Therapist (CHT). The suggestions or recommendations made on this site are not meant to be a substitute for advice from your MD, or as a substitute for any prescriptions you may be taking. Suggestions followed will be the responsibility of the reader, and are stated with the intention of interest and education only. If you have a health issue, please see your primary care physician (MD) first and foremost.