Yoga for Computer Users

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Sitting in front of a computer all day can wreak havoc on the body, says San Francisco Bay Area yoga instructor Sandy Blaine, who's taught yoga and repetitive stress injury (RSI)Cprevention seminars at high-tech companies for more than a decade. "I have seen firsthand, again and again, how damaging the combination of stress and the physical requirements of continual computer use can be," she writes in her slim guide to yoga-based self-care for the technological age.

After a brief overview of the problem—basically, sitting too long with bad posture, often under stress—Blaine presents a program of postures, breathing techniques, and lifestyle practices to help prevent RSI. She divides these into two sections: "Desktop Yoga," yoga breaks to take during a workday, and "Computer-Free Yoga," to be done at home before or after work. She also offers sequences and guidelines and ideas for incorporating yoga into everyday life.

Most of the poses in "Desktop Yoga" focus on the upper body&mdsh;stretching and strengthening the back, chest, shoulders, neck, arms, and wrists. These include seated versions of Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose), and some forward bends. To counteract the effects of slumping at the desk, Blaine includes Salamba Makarasana (Supported Crocodile Pose) against a wall, which may be impractical for some cubicle dwellers.

The final section, "Everyday Yoga," offers some excellent suggestions, such as practicing being ambidextrous by stirring soup or opening doors with the nondominant hand. Near the book's end, Blaine cautions that her program is fo-cused on preventing injuries, not treating them, and that some of the exercises may exacerbate an existing condition. So practice with care.