7 Easy Ways to Relax on the Job (without Getting Fired)

By Stepfanie Romine, certified yoga teacher

Your boss just dropped another project on your desk. Your co-worker spends more time at the water cooler than at his desk. The phone won't stop ringing, your email inbox is so full it's about to burst, and you've got a meeting with a client in an hour.

Yep, you're stressed.

So how can you present your most cool, calm and collected self and accomplish all the tasks you have to do today?

Take a breather, and try a few minutes of yoga.

Most of us can't unroll a yoga mat and drop into down dog at the office, but that doesn't mean we can't take time for a bit of relaxing and energizing stretches. (Note: These poses are also appropriate for people with mobility issues.)

The next time you need to chill out, try some or all of these poses:


Neck rolls

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Gaze up to the ceiling, keeping your neck long. Then bring your left ear down towards your left shoulder and hold. Roll your head down towards the ground and bring your chin to your chest. Hold and finally, roll your head to the right and bring that ear to your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale through the nose in a slow and controlled manner. Repeat twice.

For a deeper stretch, extend the opposite arm down towards the ground and hold. You should be relaxing your neck muscles and using the weight of your head for this stretch. Do not attempt to force your head lower with your neck muscles or your hands. Stop immediately if you feel any discomfort.

Repeat five times on each side, taking long, slow and even breaths through the nose.


Mountain pose

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

Inhale through the nose and raise your arms overhead. Keep your arms shoulder width apart, and relax your shoulders. If you feel your shoulders creep up around your ears, relax them. Keep the belly strong, and gaze in between your hands, to the ceiling. Stay here for five breaths.

Alternative: After raising your arms, interlace your fingers, and press your palms toward the ceiling. Relax your shoulder blades. Remain for five breaths, with your gaze up to your palms.


Cat/cow stretch

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

As you inhale, arch your back and look up toward the ceiling. Lift the chin and allow your arms to relax next to you.

As you exhale, round your spine and let your head drop forward. Tuck the chin and allow your shoulders to roll.

Repeat five times.


Seated forward fold

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible. Spread your legs slightly wider than hip's distance apart.

Exhale and round your back, slowly lowering your chest in between your legs. Place your hands flat on the floor (see photo above) or grab opposite elbow with each hand (see photo below). Allow your shoulders to relax and round.

Stay here for five breaths. Inhale and slowly roll up, allowing your head to be the last part of your body to lift. Relax the shoulders back and down.


Click here for the rest of the stretches, with pictures!



Related links:

5 Yoga Poses to Help You Rest Better

Poll: Are You a Napper?

It's 3:00--Does Anyone Else Need a Breather?


SparkRecipes.com editor Stepfanie Romine is a certified yoga teacher and co-author of
"The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A vegetarian and runner, she has lived and cooked on three continents.