yoga exercises for optimum healthBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

We often talk about the benefits of Yoga exercises we enjoy in our daily life “off the mat.” However, there are also plenty of Yoga techniques we can do off the mat to make sure our practice improves! Here are some easy to incorporate exercises that will help deepen your daily Yoga practice.

1) Strengthening the feet and stretching the Achilles tendon. These exercises will give you a stable base for standing poses and help you with rooting your feet during the day. When brushing your teeth or washing your hands, practice rooting by rising up on the balls of your feet of and back onto the four corners of your feet.

Repeat throughout the day whenever you stand in front of a sink. This exercise works two muscles in the calf, the gastrocnemius and the soleus, and improves balance. Next, whenever you climb stairs throughout the day, stop once and stretch each foot by putting the toes on the edge of a higher step and letting the heel “reach” down. This will stretch your calves and eventually, allow your feet and calves to relax when needed.

2) Practice your office Yoga exercises. Before getting up from your office chair to visit the photocopier, close your eyes for a moment and visualize yourself standing, reaching out with one hand to grasp the document, turning and striding towards the machine in one long, flowing movement. Practice moving your body as smoothly as possible during the day; this will create complete efficiency of motion. Mindful movements during the day make it simple to absorb yourself in your personal Yoga practice later.

3) Improve your lung capacity with slow and deep diaphragmic breathing. Find a sound that acts as a natural metronome, such as your printer or the whooshing of a copy machine, or the clacking of subway cars. Practice breathing in all the way to your stomach for three clacks and out for three clacks, and adjust as your lung capacity improves.

4) Use isometric exercises to strengthen your hands and wrists by placing the palms together in a namaste position and pushing against each other. Repeat for 10 seconds in a sequence of 3 to 12 times while reading email, then gently stretch the fingers forward toward the forearm. Strong wrists provide support in many poses and increased flexibility in the hands helps with performing mudras while giving the arms additional support.

Although some of the above mentioned Yoga exercises might require multi-tasking, you will find them beneficial. Multi-tasking is a fact of life in the workplace. With repetition, these simple exercises can become habit and will make your time in Yoga class or in your home practice even more productive.

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