Updated: Sep 30
Let's face it, the working landscape has drastically changed and remote work is now here to stay. This ushers in a whole new set of ergonomic challenges for an ineffectively designed workspace. Chiropractors have reported a jump in the injuries associated with ergonomics since the stay at home guidance began.
Commonly mentioned are aches and pain in the neck, shoulders, back and wrist areas. Other issues on the rise are eyestrain and tight hips. Yoga can help prevent all of these very easily. If you already suffer from some of these, then Yoga can also reduce the effects and promote healing.
There are a number of asanas that can be used in these specific instances. Keep in mind that warm up is always important, and stretching unprepared muscles can cause damage. Remember to breathe steadily during stretches.
Yoga for Eye Strain
Eye strain is heavily linked to increased screen time. There is actually a Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), that is known to affect people who use screens for a prolonged period. Yoga has a few ways of dealing with eye strain that effectively work on healing the damage already done and preventing further damage from occurring.
First, and most effective is Palming, is done in darkness with the palms cupping the eyes. Palming soothes the optic nerve, which is often irritated. Sit in a darkened room with your elbows leaning on a table. Relax your back and shoulders, rub your hands together vigorously to warm them, then place your palms over your eyes. Don’t press the eye sockets and don’t lean on the cheekbones. Visualize total blackness, the most relaxing color for the brain, and breathe deeply. Continue this palming action as long as it feels soothing—for just a few seconds or up to five minutes. When you are ready to emerge, gently remove the hands from the face and slowly open the eyes.
Two other exercises that keep the eyes healthy are Eye rolling, which is just slow rolls with the eyes and Distance Gazing. Distance gazing involves shifting your focus from something close to something far. Don't strain to look at details, just look and see what you can. Spend a few seconds looking at something close, then something far.
Neck and Shoulders
Seated Neck Stretches
Maintaining full range of motion in your neck can help to ease neck pain in the long term. In a seated position, turn your head to the right, and lift your chin slightly, holding for 3–5 breaths, feeling the stretch along the left side of your neck and shoulder. Repeat for the other side as well. Next step is to hand your head back and let the neck muscles relax. Hold for 3 - 5 breaths again.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
The Seated Forward Bend pose is great for stretching your whole body, but if you tilt your head forward and back while holding the stretch it offers a great chance to stretch your neck with the shoulders already opened as well. Sit comfortably and stretch our your legs in front of you. reach as far as you can with a straight back and hold the stretch. Now hang your head forward and hold for 3 breaths. Tilt your head back and hold for 3 breaths.
Lower Back De-Compression
Post pandemic companies are trying to move towards remote work culture. With the current on-going trend, you spend 8-9 hours sitting in front of your office desk with a slouching shoulder most of your time. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can be a major cause of back pain. It increases stress on the back, neck, arms and legs and can add a tremendous amount of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs on the long go. These effects of remote work need to be countered.
Sitting leads to 40 to 90 percent more stress on the back (disc pressure) than standing posture. – Cornell University Ergonomics Web
Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha svanasana)
We have covered Downward Dog in many different posts. Let us just say in this context that downward dog will stretch and align your whole spine, while strengthening and firming your core and leg muscles. An invaluable pose when performed properly.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
The same principle as Seated Forward Bend, but in this case you stretch the lower back fully. Take all the pressure off and stretch those muscles at the same time. It increases flexibility and results in a stronger spine. Also, great for getting rid of the tension caused by sitting stationary for long periods.
Marjaryasana (Cat Pose)
Bitilasana (Cow Pose)
This is one of those poses that if performed properly will tone your whole upper body, including the neck. Practice rounding the back and the hollowing the back completely, also follow through with your head. Look down and tuck your chin for the cat pose, and point your chin as high as it can go for the cow pose.
Upward Bound Fingers Pose
Seated Upward Bound Fingers Pose
This pose helps to stretch the whole arm, activate the rotator cuffs and ease tension in the wrists. It can also be done during Mountain pose to stretch the whole body. During this pose, try to interlace the pinky finger as well as the others. Don't let it just hang out. Engaging the pinky stretches the particular tendon attached to it, which gets ignored otherwise.
Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
This pose may need straps or a belt or some suitable prop for ease of use in the beginning. Even with the prop it is a hugely useful exercise for flexibility and strength in the rotator cuffs, which directly influences how much strain the wrists take.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
A great hip opener for easing tight and strained muscles. In the beginning, you may not be able to go quite so low with your butt. That's okay, your muscles in their tight state will only allow so much movement, however if you go as low as you can, you are stretching your muscles to what they allow. They will elongate and loosen over time.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
This pose is especially good for countering a slouched spine condition. It will gently stretch your abs and surrounding areas while firming up the back muscles.
Yoga for Good Sleep
Although not strictly to do with remote work, good sleep is a necessity to heal and refresh. This next pose should be performed as a cooldown after this routine anyway, but it is also a great pose to do just before bedtime. It relaxes the body and also prepares you for Nidra Yoga, if that is something you wish to practice.
Child Pose (Balasana)
This pose is intended to just rest. Let your body become heavy and drop all physical tension.
Take 10-15 minutes during your workday to implement these simple stretches! These yoga poses will not only offset stress and help you clear your mind, but also relieve muscle tension and stiffness.