A short yet effective exercise for your mid day break from sitting. It's a physical fact that we are shorter at the end of the day compared to when we rise in the morning.
This is because the force of gravity constantly increases compression of the spine and our entire body. Stretching exercises, like yoga, help with this problem by encouraging us to lengthen the spine and balance the effect of compression. Here is a very easy-to-follow and short exercise which will reduce the tiredness and heavy sensation at the end of a long day. Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair with your feet placed on the floor about hip-distance apart. Place your palms flat on your thighs, and lengthen your spine. Imagine your head balanced over heart, and heart balanced over your hips. Inhale and exhale evenly for five counts each and began the exercise:
1. Inhale and lift your arms overhead, taking hold of your left wrist with your right hand and pull very gently.
2. On an exhalation, bend to the right. Stay there for three breaths. As you inhale, come back up to vertical and change wrists.
3. Exhale, and bend to the left. Stay there for three breaths. Inhale back up to a tall spine.
4. Exhale, release your arms. Circle your shoulders a few times, rolling them up, back and down.
5. On the fourth roll, interlace your fingers behind your back with your arms as straight as you are able to make them. If you don't have room behind you, reach back and hold onto the outside edges of the back of your chair.
6. On an inhalation, lift your chest; imagine a nice arch by making a reverse backbend. Stay here and draw three full breaths into your body.
7. Exhale and release your hands, place them on your knees and round your spine to make a backbend.
8. Tuck your pelvis and pull your navel away from your knees, coming into a seated cat pose. Breathe deeply and feel the broadness of the back body. Let your head dangle to open the back of the neck.
9. From where you are, begin to fold forward, letting your upper body fall through your thighs. You may be able to reach the floor with your palms flat but that's not the point of this exercise. Holding on your ankles or shins or where ever you can comfortably reach is just fine. The idea is to try to have your head drop lower than your hips, this is an inversion.
10. Slowly roll up and find length in your spine.
11. On an exhalation, twist to the right. You can place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and your right hand on the back of your chair. Check to make sure that your right armpit-chest area is lifted. Remember to include your head in the twist as well.
12. Repeat to the other side.
This entire exercise should not take more than ten minutes, but is quite refreshing.