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Yoga at Work

Written by Stu Watson

yoga at work and relieving stressIf office insanity is taking a toll on your health, take a stretch break and feel better on the spot.

When I learn from someone that they are into yoga, it does not surprise me. They are invariably fit, lean and full of energy.

Good things happen to them.

Put a Little Yoga in Your Office:
Kick-Back Log-On Pose: Interlace your fingers behind your head. Relax your elbows and shoulders. Smile, breathe and stretch your elbows back. Let the tightness release slowly.
E-Mail Meditation (for those times when you log on to 200 waiting messages): Breathe slowly and focus your attention on your breath. Make the out-breath two times longer than the in-breath. This will immediately calm you.
Photocopier Stretch: Place your hands on the edge of the copier. Stand back with feet apart. Drop your head and chest. Breathe and relax your shoulders.

I was talking with one friend, Caroline, a few years ago when she bounded up from behind her desk, came over and stood on her head.

As I recall, it was a move loaded with enthusiasm and surprise, the desire to share. I forget the point she was trying to make, but she would enjoy a chat with Darrin Zeer, author of Office Yoga: Simple Stretches for Busy People.

Zeer, a stress-reduction consultant in San Diego, Calif., wrote the book to give his clients something they might actually read. Most self-help and diet books, he notes, are so detailed and regimented that they only add to stress. So Zeer created the sort of book he might want to read: Simple, easy to understand and easy to apply.

Zeer is no longer a yoga instructor, but in the past, he has taught yoga at the Golden Door and Glen Ivy Hot Springs spas, and to corporate clients.

Yoga, Zeer says, means "life in balance." In the West, we are familiar with a small part of yoga, the stretches known as asanas. His book focuses on stretches, but it also includes breathing exercises and meditations that fit neatly into the day-to-day.

While the book begins with a wakeup meditation, it moves into yoga exercises for the office. "I wanted to focus on the corporate environment, because that seems to be the group that's the most stressed out," says Zeer. The book also includes ways to apply the tenets of yoga while doing such things as lounging on the couch, coping with road rage or running.

"When people jog, they run in a stressed way, very tight, and with poor posture," he says. "Sometimes I see people with clenched fists, their shoulders up to their ears, so what I try to pound into people is to try to relax their body."

To make his yoga menu more palatable, Zeer has named his stretches in a familiar way: the Close the Deal Warrior Pose, the E-mail Meditation, the To-Do Stretch, Keyboard Calisthenics.

"I'm trying to give people stuff to do in the gaps," says Zeer. "You've got 10 seconds there, you're stressed out, you're about to go into an important meeting, so I have a before-the-meeting stretch."

The key thing, Zeer says, is that his approach is selective, not prescriptive. There is no "must-do" list or required number of exercises to do each day.

"People have micro meltdowns," he says. "When everything is piling up, you're no longer efficient. That's a good point to open my book."

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