Yes, yoga at the office—we dare you to try it! Based on my burgeoning understanding of Katonah Yoga, an alignment-based yoga system developed by Nevine Michaan in New York City and Bedford Hills, New York, here are a few postures to help you get through each day feeling a little happier and healthier. This sequence incorporates quiet meditation, invigorating breathwork, and deep stretches. When practiced regularly it can give your immune system a boost, open your interior spaces, and clear your mind so you can perform at your peak.
Take a seat with your hands resting on your thighs, feet resting on the floor. Breathe and feel your body for 2 minutes. Hear all the sounds around you; simply let them in and out of your awareness smoothly.
Staying seated, inhale your arms high and bring your hands to touch above your head. Keeping your arms super straight, lift your inner body off of your hips, and breathe space in your belly as you take 5 breaths.
Stand tall and take your right wrist with your left hand; lengthen over to your left side. Extend the spine tall, keep the right foot grounded, and lift both lungs up evenly; gaze underneath your right arm for 2–5 breaths. Then repeat on the other side.
Place each elbow into the opposite palm. Take a moment to really fit the center of each elbow bone into the center of of each palm. Once you have that fit, imagine that you’re pulling your arms apart, even as you hold them together well, and feel the opening in your lungs and liver. Breathe spaciously for 5 breaths, pulling out to the sides, holding in to the center, and lifting up the frame of your arms.
Extend both arms out in front of you, then cross your left arm on top of your right. Bend your elbows and back your forearms up toward one another, bringing as much of the palms of your hands to touch as possible. Lift that structure up in front of your face, rest your chin on your left upper arm, then breathe your chin and your arms away from your face and up; hold for 3–5 breaths. As with your frames, keep “separating” your arms while you hold them in this twist, and swallow if you can to flush your thyroid. Cross your arms the other way and repeat.
Supported Chair Pose
Rest your fingertips on your desk and lift your heels up so you’re standing on the balls of your feet. Bend your knees, reach your seat back and out, and turn your pelvic floor to face the floor. Lengthen the front of your spine, keep lifting your kidneys, and let your lungs open for 5 breaths.
Framed Chair Pose
Frame up your arms in your chair. Sit back in your hip joint rather than your thighs, smile big and breathe for 5 more breaths. Cross your arms into the other frame—the way that feels less natural. Keep smiling. This is hard work but a great flush for your whole body.
Heels down, arms tall. Smile big for 3 full breaths. Feel the flow of energy coursing through your entire body.
See also Work It: Chair Warrior
Stand tall, frame up your arms, and fold forward. Important: Keep your knees bent so you can breathe deeply. Belly on thighs, armpits on kneecaps, send your sitting bones high and breathe deeply for 3–5 breaths.
See also Six Stretches to Do at Work
Listening, Hands to Heart
Release your arms to dangle down. Roll up slowly to stand. Keep your chin down for a few moments to recalibrate and place your left and then your right hand on top of your heart. Breathe there sweetly for a couple of breaths until you’re ready to move on.
Sit back down and reach your left hand across your front body. Let your fingers rest on your right side [where your liver sits]; place your left palm on the base of your skull. Well-grounded, breathe deeply.
Seated Cat and Cow
Inhale to round your spine, exhale to open your lungs wide. Enjoy the expansion and the clearing.
See also Meditation in the Workplace
Seated Simple Twist
Place one hand in front of you on your desk or chair and one hand behind you. Inhale, lengthening your spine, and bring your heart around for 3–5 breaths before switching sides.
Breath of Fire
Extend arms out to 60 degrees, cup hands, and take 100 swift exhalations from your belly out your nostrils like you’re blowing out a candle with your nose. Let this clear your sinuses, your respiratory system, and most importantly, your busy mind. To end, inhale deeply, hook your thumbs above your head, sip in 3 more tiny inhalations. Now exhale and bring your hands down to your heart as you empty your breath out of your nose.
Sit quietly for a moment; feel your radiant clarity.
Liver Flush Frames
Once again, frame up your arms (this gets easier with time and practice) and inhale your arms up, exhale your arms down.
Let this movement flush your liver and leave you more peaceful and steady.
Rest your hands on your thighs once again, and sit for as long as you wish, resting in your body and sensing a fresh flow and fluency throughout.
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Elena Brower is the author of Art of Attention, a renowned yoga workbook, now translated into five languages. Studying and teaching since 1998, she’s respected globally for her distinct blend of alignment and attention in her teaching of yoga and meditation. Her audio meditation coursework, Cultivating Spiritual Intelligence, is beloved for its accessibility and relevance, and her yoga teaching is influenced by several traditions including Katonah Yoga, Kundalini and ParaYoga. Elena is also the founder of Teach.yoga, a global website for teachers, and her second book, Practice You, will be published in 2018 by Sounds True. Practices with Elena can be found on YogaGlo.com.