Working from home, I find that the former habits that I kept at the office are slowly deteriorating. It’s fun to work from the couch or bed some days at first, but if it becomes a habit, it’s likely to affect your productivity and performance.
As a yoga teacher, I believe it’s important to be aware of how our bodies are aligned for working as well as our minds. Just like we need rest after a long jog or a quick sprint, our minds need a break too. When the mind gets tired, it’s more likely to get distracted. When the mind is distracted, we lose focus, and those are usually the days when we arrive at dinner and aren’t sure what just happened all day.
10-Minute Work-from-Home Yoga Break to Refresh
I recommend building breaks into your day just like you would to take a break for eating and using the restroom. Using one of those breaks during the day to do some light movement is even more effective because it will calm the nervous system and reinvigorate the mind in a focused way without agitation.
I’ve created a quick 10-minute yoga sequence that is essential for a midday break and will leave you feeling rejuvenated, creative, and ready to return to your work with a fresh perspective. You can practice along with me using this follow-along practice on YouTube or simply follow the instructions below.
Shoulder Rolls (30 seconds)
- Begin in a comfortable seat. Lift your shoulders towards your ears and then roll them backward and down the back. This will help counter any unconscious slouching throughout your day of working on a computer or phone.
Wrist Stretches (1 min)
- Take the palms to touch at the center of your chest, and then move the thumbs down until you have a 90-degree bend in the elbows. The thumbs should land right below the sternum. Press the hands together lightly creating a little tension in the arms. (30 seconds)
- Release the hands and make loose fists. Create gentle, easy circles with the wrists. After fifteen seconds make circles in the opposite direction. (30 seconds)
- This will help you to counter any tension you might be holding from typing.
Puppy Twist (30 seconds each side)
- Begin on your hands and knees. Inhale and lift your Left hand up towards the ceiling. On your exhale, thread your left hand behind your Right wrist. Rest your Left shoulder and cheek on your mat. Then, extend your Right arm forward.
- To release, bring your Right hand back underneath the Right shoulder, press down and un-twist back to hands and knees. Then, do the opposite side. This will help your body and mind release stagnant energy.
Cat and Cow (30 seconds)
- On your inhale, let your belly drop towards the floor so that your head and tail lift. Reach your chest forward and up, and allow your chin and gaze to lift with it for Cow Pose. On the exhale, press through your hands and tops of feet and puff up your back for Cat Pose.
- Repeat for five cycles of breath. This will help lubricate the spine and act as a salve when we haven’t moved much or have sat for long periods of time.
Down Dog (1 minute)
- From hands and knees, tuck your toes, press through your hands and lift your hips, making a triangle shape with your body. Let your head relax, take your gaze to your toes and bend the knees. Press through the hands and arms and lengthen the sides of the waist. Breathe. This will help calm your nervous system and improve circulation.
Plank Pose (1 minute)
- From Downward Facing Dog, move your chest forward, and lower your hips in line with your torso so that you’re at the top of a push-up position. You may need to move the toes back slightly to find the full length of your body. Take the gaze slightly forward, and breathe. You’ll likely build a little heat here, and so will help with circulation.
Reverse Tabletop (30 seconds)
- Come to sit down with your knees bent and soles of your feet on the floor hip-width distance (or 6-9 inches) apart. Take your hands behind you and place your fingers forward toward your heels. Lift your hips and look up at the ceiling. This is invigorating and is a great counter position for the shoulders.
Camel Pose (1 minute)
- Stand on the knees, and take the palms to the low back. Narrow your hip points and begin to lift the sternum and the chin. Look up at the ceiling.
- If this position is accessible and easy, you can move the palms to the backs of the thighs where the hamstrings are, or to your heels. To release, engage the belly and narrow the hip points to lift the torso back to neutral.
- Camel pose will lift your energy and prep you for focused work.
Short Meditation (2 minutes)
- Come to sit on the heels or place a block under the seat, and let the hands rest on the lap. Close the eyes or let the eyelids become heavy. Begin to pay attention to your breath, observing each inhale and exhale. Continue for 2 minutes. Meditation helps to improve focus and reduce stress and anxiety.
You can practice this once per day throughout your week to enhance your break from work, counter your body posture from working from home, and increase your focus and performance. Enjoy this practice!
Maria Loida is the Yoga Teacher for Future CEOs in New York City. She helps women become leaders at work without burning out. Sign up for her newsletter for weekly support in your journey to achieving your highest goals at work while bringing your best Self home.