An IT professional’s day is filled with a myriad of pressing responsibilities. Besides quick fixes of simple problems at a basic level, there are regular, and seemingly endless, updates along with software and hardware issues. All while spending between eight and 14 hours per day sitting in front of a computer.
Maybe that’s why 52 percent of IT professionals suffer from neck pain, back pain, spondylitis, diabetes and a host of other modern-day health issues.
To lead a healthy and less stressful life, we have to find a way to eliminate these painful predicaments from our daily doings. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to these computer-age maladies: the 5,000-year-old ancient Indian practice of Yoga.
Countless studies have proven the benefits of Yoga for health, strength (physical and mental) and inner peace. Yoga is no longer just an Indian practice, either. Significant numbers of people practice yoga daily across the world, especially in western countries. In the United States, more than 2.4 crore people are regular practitioners. Yoga has been adopted by British school curriculums, and one out of every eight Germans practices it daily. The United Nations recently adopted an Indian-led resolution declaring June 21 as “International Day of Yoga.”
Yoga really is for everyone, and it’s especially helpful for IT professionals who sit at their desks for long periods of time. We’ve all seen photos of toned and fit individuals holding impressive looking positions. These positons are called asanas, which denotes the art of “sitting still.”
Practicing asanas is helpful in restoring and maintaining well-being and improving flexibility and vitality. There are many different ways to do asanas — standing, lying on your back, and even standing on your head, although your co-workers may look at you strangely. We’ll get back to asanas in a bit.
For now, let’s assume you’re not comfortable doing a full-blown head-stand on your desk. Here is a simple invigorating exercise you can do while seated in your cubicle. There are eight steps to this exercise:
Step 1 — With both feet flat on the floor and looking straight ahead, turn your head slowly to the right as far as you can comfortably go. Hold the position for several seconds, and then return your head to the centre. Now repeat the action turning to the left.
Step 2 — Tilt your head forward and let your chin drop towards your chest, relax and hold the position for several seconds, then bring your head back up level.
Step 3 — Tilt your head straight over toward your left ear, hold it for several seconds and then return it to the centre position. Repeat the action on the right side.
Step 4 — Tilt your head backwards so you can see the ceiling, hold for several seconds and then bring your head back down to a level positon.
Step 5 — Press your forehead into your palms. Resist any jerking motion, hold this position for several seconds, and then return your head to the upright position.
Step 6 — Press your left hand against the left side of your head. While gently pushing against your head, try to bring your ear towards your left shoulder. Hold this positon for several seconds and then repeat on your right side. Take care not to have any jerking motions.
Step 7 — While leaning your head forward, clasp both hands on the back of your head. Gently push your head upright while resisting lightly with your hands.
Step 8 — Place your left hand against your left temple. Push you chin towards your left shoulder while gently resisting with your left hand. Hold the position for several seconds and then release. Repeat the exercise on the right side.
Doing these simple yoga moves can help relax tense muscles, increase blood flow and temporarily heighten mental awareness. Do them as many times as you like, and as often as you need.
For those who are a bit more adventurous, and willing to try some new things, here are a couple of the more well-known and simpler asanas to sample:
Marjariasana and Bitilasana: Also known as the Cat and Cow poses, these are dual exercises to help ward off stiffness of the arms and shoulders and reduce back pain. Begin by placing your hands and knees on the floor in what is called a “table top” position, with your chest and stomach parallel to the ground.
As you exhale, curl your spine towards the ceiling while bringing your head down slowly putting your chin into your chest. Hold the position for a few seconds, then inhale and push your belly towards the floor while slowly lifting your head towards the ceiling.
Continue these two poses sequentially while inhaling and exhaling. This will be a great respite for neck pain while giving a gentle massage to your spine and belly organs. Here is a simple video on how these poses are done.
Bhujangasan: Also known as the Cobra pose is a great way to mitigate discomfort in back muscles, neck and abdomen. It is also helpful to alleviate stiffness in back, stress and anxiety disorders. This one is simple and effective.
Lie down on your stomach with your feet pointed behind you and your hands palm down on the ground beneath your shoulders. Inhale slowly as you lift your chest off the ground by straightening your arms. Hold this pose for as long as you feel comfortable, then slowly return to the starting position. Again, check out this video.
The English author Thomas Fuller said, “Health is not valued till sickness comes.” In today’s fast-paced world too many of us seem to run ceaselessly in an endless pursuit of money and position, until one day, we find ourselves suffering maladies of the body that could have easily been prevented. So start today, choose a balanced life of harmony — of mind, soul and body. Make yoga a part of your balanced life. It will invigorate your performance and increase your happiness.