The spiritual meaning of namaste is that “the divine in me respectfully recognizes the divine in you.” Namaste invokes the feeling of spiritual oneness of heart and mind, with the person one is greeting. In Hinduism, it means “I bow to the divine in you”. My personal saying is “the light in me salutes the light in you.”
Self-quarantining and working from home has many of us are sitting for long periods of time in a living room or dining room chair. Even if you have an ergonomic chair – and good for you – those of us working from home are sitting a lot longer than usual. Because of the different tabletop environment and seating combination, we can be leaning into or down to the keyboard, stressing several areas of the back and neck and creating pain.
There are so many kinds of yoga, but the best thing about yoga is that is a practice so there are no have-to’s. As you practice, you become more flexible. I believe this flexibility stretches to the mind and spirit as well. Plus, the deep breathing and holding poses actually help exercise the inner organs.
First of all, get out of the chair at least once an hour. Try these yoga poses today and start where you are. The images I use here are reflective of the poses only; you don’t have to go to the seashore or a mountaintop to do these! Get yourself a good yoga mat and start. That’s it.
A few caveats: each movement is a breath. Breathe in to stretch, exhale to extend. Do not do anything that creates pain. Check with your doctor if you have had surgery before doing any yoga.
The Stretch and Forward Fold:
Many of us stretch naturally upon waking, but this yoga stretch can really stretch out your entire body. Stand with your feet hips width apart – inhale – and stretch your arms up and overhead, palms to touch – exhale as you bring your hands to prayer pose in front of your heart. Continue this breath for each movement. Inhale and bring arms down as you bend from the waist down in a forward fold. Exhale. Let hands rest on thighs, shins, feet, or floor, with the crown of head pointing to the floor; head facing knees. Inhale look up while keeping hands placed on legs. Exhale and fold forward, crown facing floor.
HINT: Completely let go of your upper body and allow gravity to work in the standing forward fold. Bonus points for binding arms behind your back and reaching up and over to open through the chest. This is great for writers.
What it helps:
- Stimulates liver and kidneys
- Stretches legs and hips
- Strengthens thighs and knees
- Helps digestion
- Can relieve symptoms of menopause
- Relieves headaches
- Reduces anxiety
The Tree Pose
Like a tree, extend your roots down and blossom your arms up toward the sun. Bring all your weight into one foot, and root down through the four corners of your foot on the floor. Stretch your foot along the floor, lift and place your toes down. Place the sole of the other foot against the inside of the thigh, calf, or ankle – never the knee. Imagine pressing the sole of the foot into the standing leg and the leg into the foot. Soften your focus to a still object about three feet in front of you. Repeat on the other side. Try and hold each side for one minute, or work your way to one minute in 20 second increments.
What it helps:
- Stretches the thighs, groins, torso, and shoulders
- Builds strength in the ankles and calves
- Tones abdominal muscles
- Remedies flat feet
- Therapeutic for sciatica
Cat Cow Pose
– a personal favorite for the back
Start on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and hips over knees. Slowly inhale and on the exhale, round your spine and drop your head toward the floor. This is the cat pose. It always reminds me of those Halloween cat silhouettes. Next, inhale and lift your chest, head, and tailbone toward the ceiling. This is the cow pose. Try to work your way to three minutes repeating the poses with the breath. You will feel your back release.
What it helps:
- Creates a wonderful flexion and extension of the spine
- Promotes mobility
- Relieves lower back tension
- Can help improve posture
Yoga is great for increasing your body’s flexibility and core stability, correcting posture, and breathing—which all contribute to having a healthy back. It is safe to do daily, but make sure that you are not doing anything that makes existing discomfort worse, and that you are not stretching into a position of pain. As a yoga student for years, I basically go by the motto: “as long as it feels good, do it.”
Until next time, love and light.