Self-isolation and self-distancing measures mean that many of us - if not most of us - are currently working or studying from home. The situation is not entirely bad. Working remotely does have benefits. There's no commute and you can wear what you like mostly. But of course there are many downsides.
Unless you've splurged on a few work from home furniture essentials and unless you're keeping up your workouts from home, many of us are sitting in the one spot all day long. And this can lead to some seriously stiff shoulders, back and neck.
We spoke to yoga instructor Amy Carmody for some guidance on the ergonomics of remote work.
"One of my biggest concerns is the inadequate ergonomics people are now working within. Long working days at the desk were already problematic, so now with a large portion of the world's population working from their couches, beds or kitchen table we need movement and an emphasis on good posture now more than ever.
"I encourage everyone, rather than just one big workout at the end of the day, get up every 20 minutes and move around. Set an alarm on your phone and have a drink of water. And to counteract excessive sitting, every twenty minutes do one of these five stretches."
A neutral spine requires the three 's' points to be stacked on top of each other. Bring the back of your skull, scapulas and sacrum against the wall, hold that for a few deep breaths. Try to maintain this position as you move away from the wall. This is our ideal posture, the position we should be standing, walking and even sitting at our desk in. The most pronounced postural deviation I see as a teacher is the skull being too far forward (text neck) and the pelvis being tipped either forward (anterior) or backward (posterior).
Lay on to your back, place the feet beneath the knees and organise the belly in and down to the spine. Exhale lift off the glutes into a low bridge, keep the front ribs contained in the torso. Do not let them pop up to the ceiling. The pubic bone and front pelvic points pull a little to the belly button. Very active glutes wrap the tailbone so we can traction and free up any compression in the lower back. Prolonged sitting can cause the glutes to atrophy or become lazy, which then tips the pelvis out of neutral, leading to compression in the lower back.
Come into a 90/90 degree lunge with the legs. Ensure the back knee is directly underneath the hip. Our aim is to position the pelvis the same way we did in the low bridge; neutral. Turn the back glute on firmly to wrap the tailbone straight down, draw the belly back. The more you engage the back glute, the more release and stretch you will feel along the hip flexors and iliopsoas.
Bent Knee Forward Fold
Stand with the feet directly under the pelvis, keep the feet apart rather than together. Hinge at the hips, bend the knees a lot and bring the hands to the ground in front of the feet. The aim here is to release the entire back body, so keep the knees really bent to create more hip flexion and therefore more release for the lumbar spine. Interlace the hands together at the back on the skull and gently bring the head in, pressing the head gently back into the hands. This will release the neck extenders that are usually very overactive when we suffer text neck or stare at a computer screen all day long. Option to sway gently side to side with deep breaths.
Supported Chest Stretch
Place either two blocks or books under the back body, one at the scapulas and one beneath the skull. Reach the arms out wide, be passive with the arms so that the front of the chest and shoulders can feel a stretch. Allow the shoulders to roll back and release, so that pec minor (right near the armpit wall) can stretch, this gets very tight and can cause posture to round you over. Legs long and relaxed, breath in to the sides of the ribs. Perfect after a long working day, hold between 3-10 minutes.
Amy Carmody Yoga is one of many fitness and gym centres offering online workouts. ACY has daily yoga classes that are professionally pre-recorded so you can practice the class at any time. All new sign-ups will get a 5-day free trial.