By the time lunch hour rolls around, you may have already endured a marathon of meetings, sifted through a pile of work, and generally gotten so much accomplished, you should feel productive and amazing. But for many of us, you have to do it all over again after lunch to complete your workday.
Learn to use your lunch hour to reset your mind and body for the busy afternoon ahead. Instead of heading out to lunch with coworkers or eating at your desk, grab the work clan and recharge with yoga, instead. Yoga is like a moving meditation. Not only does it allow you to exercise every major muscle group in the body, but it also allows you to connect with your breath, body, and mind. A slower-paced flow is the perfect respite to counter the bustling activity of the workday. Plus, you won’t get sweaty or need to hit the shower if you keep the pace slow and simple.
Get a few colleagues to join you and use this routine to start a lunchtime yoga club at work. This particular flow is based on the sun salutations or Surya Namaskar.
Breathing and Centering: 3 Minutes
Start in a comfortable seated position and close your eyes. Allow your awareness to come to your breath and body. Scan your body from head to toe, and recognize where you might find signs of stress or discomfort. Set the intention to let that go.
Focus on your breath and start inhaling from the lower abdomen, allowing the air to fill to the mid-belly and finally the chest. As you exhale, start from the chest, go to the mid-belly and then lower abdomen. Upon the exhalation, feel your belly button move in toward the spine. You are breathing through the nose with the lips closed. As you inhale your belly expands and as you exhale, your belly contracts. Continue this way for eight to 10 cycles of the breath.
Warm Up: 3 Minutes
In a seated position, open your eyes. Sitting cross-legged or in half-lotus pose, reach both arms in front of you on the floor and allow your torso to come forward. Lower your head down and take five deep breaths.
As you come up to sitting, roll both shoulders back four times and forward four times. Switch the cross of your legs. Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and place your right hand on the floor behind you. Open the right shoulder into a twist. Look over your right shoulder and breathe. Hold for five deep breaths. Switch sides and twist to your left.
Yoga Flow: 20 Minutes
Pada Hastasana (Hand to foot pose with deep knee bends) Open the arms and swan dive forward bringing your hands to your feet. Bend the knees slightly if you can’t touch your toes. Here, you will pause and take three deep knee bends. Bend deeply at the knees with your hands on the floor and then straighten the legs as much as you can. Repeat three times.
Balasana (Child’s pose) From cobra pose, push back into child’s pose. Sit your bottom on your heels. If your knees or hips are tight, open the knees wide apart. With your arms outstretched forward, stay there for a few breaths.
Equestrian pose right foot forward Come onto all fours and bring the right foot forward. Lift the left knee off the floor and hold the low lunge for a few breaths for strengthening just as you did with the right leg back. Repeat the reverse lunge or bowing horse then shift forward into a lunge with the left knee on the floor. Reach your arms toward the sky.
Pranamasana (Salutation pose) Bring the arms down around and back to your heart space.
Repeat the entire sequence four to six times.
Cool Down and Relaxation Pose: 4 Minutes
Come down to the floor on your mat lying on your back. Bring both knees to your chest and gently rock side to side, left to right and back again. Holding on to both knees, rotate the knees in a circle in one direction as you press your lower back to the floor. Repeat four times. Rotate the knees in the opposite direction.
With your feet on the floor and the knees bent or with the legs elongated, lie in relaxation pose (Savasana) with your eyes closed and observing your breath. Stay in this pose for two minutes.
Once you get the hang of the routine, try to incorporate it 3-5 times per week. Notice how your mood changes at work, and how the stress, aches, and pains from sitting at your desk lighten up as you incorporate more yoga into your day.