Fit, energized, and de-stressed during your lunch break! Without leaving the Office (Part 2)

Lower Body:

1. Hip and Glute Stretch
Sit straight and a bit forward on your chair, with both feet on the floor right under your knees. Lift your right leg and place the lower half (inside facing up), across your left leg. Hold on to your right knee and right ankle with your hands. Press gently against the inside of your right knee. This will release your hip joint. Hold for three rounds of breaths. If you like, you then can go to the next level and bring your upper body forward and over as much as possible. Gentle movements, leaning a bit further forward on each exhalation, will release your hip joint even further.
Repeat with the other leg.

2. Leg Raises
Sit with your back firmly against the back of your chair. Breathe in and lift your right leg parallel to the floor on the exhalation. If you can, hold for another round of breath, taking it back in on the the second inhalation. Otherwise, just slowly inhale and exhale while raising your right leg on every exhalation and lowering it on the inhalation. Do ten to twenty leg raises.
Repeat with the other leg.

3. Feet and Toes Stretch
Sit straight against the back of your chair and raise both legs about 45 degrees off the floor. (If this is too difficult, just raise them slightly off the floor.) Start rotating your ankles by drawing big circles with your feet. Make the circles as smooth and round as possible. Do ten circles to the outside and ten circles to the inside. Rest your legs down if you feel strain in your back. It helps keeping your back in firm contact with the back of your chair, even pressing into it.
Raise your legs again and point your toes down as far as possible. Flex your feet, pressing your heels forward and bringing your toes back as far as possible. Alternate this movement, making it smooth and deep. Do at least ten rounds.

4. Spine Stretch
Sit a bit forward on your chair, feet wide apart. Take a deep breath in and slowly lower your upper body forward, taking your arm with you and dropping your head while slowly exhaling. At the bottom of your exhalation, your head should be perpendicular to the floor, between your legs. Your arms should rest either on your shoes or holding your hands behind your lower legs. Either way is fine. Stay there for about thirty seconds and breathe slowly. Release your spine, neck and shoulders even further with every exhalation. Roll up slowly, stacking vertebra on vertebra, keeping your head down until your spine is straight again. Then slowly raise your head.

5. Variation with arms behind your back
Sit a bit forward on your chair, feet wide apart. Take your arms back, interlacing your fingers; the back of your hands resting on the seat of the chair. Pull your shoulders back, opening your chest. Take a deep breath in and lower your upper body forward just like in the # 4 Spine Stretch.
Instead of lowering your arms and shoulders while you bend forward, keep your shoulders back and your spine as straight as possible. Lead with your head forward and then down, while your arms come up straight behind your back, keeping your hands together, fingers interlaced if possible. When you are all the way down, raise your shoulders a bit further away from your ears, reaching even higher with your arms, as if your hands could reach the ceiling. Coming out of the posture, lower your arms first, bringing them forward.
Release your spine, neck and shoulders even further with every exhalation. Roll up slowly, stacking vertebra on vertebra, keeping your head down until your spine is straight again. Then slowly raise your head.

Total Body Stretch (standing up)

1. Elongating Spine with hands on desk
Stand about three feet behind or in front of your desk.
Place your hands on top of the desk, close to the edge, but so your entire hand is supported. You can either leave your hands flat on the surface, or, for a greater benefit, raise your palms so only your fingers stay. Spread out your fingers and place them firmly (like suction cups) on the desk.
Move a few steps backwards, so your arms are stretched out, while lowering your upper body until it is almost parallel to the floor. Your head should be in between your outstretched arms. You are actually forming an L-shape with your body. Now stretch your spine out by pulling back.
Keep your legs straight and feel the stretch in the muscles behind your legs (hamstrings and calves). Hold for three to six full, slow rounds of breath. Again, you can increase the stretch on each exhalation.

2. Hip and Glute Stretch, placing foot on chair
Move your chair either against a wall, or with the back against your desk, so it does not roll away. Stand in front of your chair and place your right foot on the middle of the seat. Keep your shoes on so you don’t slip, just place a piece of paper towel on your chair. Step back with your left leg until your right lower leg is at a 45-degree angle. Now bend your right knee forward until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right knee is above your right ankle. Feel the stretch in your left leg and hip. You can increase the stretch by pushing your pelvis down and bringing your upper body a bit back. Hold for about thirty seconds.
Repeat on other side.

3. Push-Ups with Leg Raises with hands on desk.
Place your hands firmly on your desk, and walk your feet away, so your body comes into a 45-degree angle; not a L-shape, because you keep your upper body just leaning forward. Your head is in alignment with your spine. Slowly lower your chest toward the desk, bending at your elbows, diving down with your nose almost touching your desk. (This is easier for men than women.) Just go as low and as fast or slowly as your body allows. Keep your lower body straight as if you had swallowed a stick. Do ten to twenty push-ups.
For variation:
Instead of push-ups, you can lift your right leg parallel to the floor, hold it for a moment and bring it into your chest. While inhaling, lift your leg and when you exhale, bend your knee and bring it forward toward the desk and your chest. Do ten to twenty rounds, working with your breath and core.
Repeat with the other leg.

4. Standing Yoga Mudra (forward bend)

Stand up straight, feet one foot apart, shoulders relaxed, chin parallel to the floor, chest open.
Take a few gentle, deep breaths. Remember “S-B-S” (Statue, Breathe, Smile). Feel as if you are pulled up gently at the crown of your head.
Take your arms back and interlace your fingers behind your back, pulling down with your hands and opening up your chest further, squeezing your shoulder blades slightly together.
Take a deep breath in. On your exhalation, bend over, allowing your straight arms to be lifted into the air and up as your nose slowly dives toward your knees. Allow your head to be perpendicular to the floor, releasing your neck muscles. Breathe.
Release by lowering your arms, bending your knees and slowly rolling up, stacking vertebra on vertebra, until your head comes up last. Stand still for a moment and smile.

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